Andrew Balster has joined CannonDesign as a senior vice-president and the leader of our Chicago office. Widely respected for his contributions to the fields of architecture, urbanism, public policy and academia, Andrew will focus on the growth and development of our 200-person Chicago practice — strengthening our community relationships, mentoring teams, and creating new client partnerships across the health, education, commercial and science industries.
Andrew joins CannonDesign after serving as the executive director of Archeworks, a design lab and think-tank focused on using the power of design to confront social, cultural and environmental urban challenges. Prior to that, he was the director of Virginia Tech’s Chicago Studio — a program that integrates education and practice by embedding undergraduates in design offices — and a senior designer at SOM where he worked on projects ranging from small civic centers to super-tall towers and entire urban districts.
“Chicago is one of the most influential cities in the country, and Andrew is one of the most influential design leaders in Chicago,” said Robin Cibrano, executive director of office strategies at CannonDesign. “We have a long-standing track record of success in the city, and I’m looking forward to watching the office — CannonDesign’s largest office — continue to thrive under Andrew’s leadership.”
In addition to managing teams and projects, one of Andrew’s greatest passions is public interest design. While at Archeworks, he oversaw a postgraduate certificate focused on this human-centered and inclusive design practice. The most recent class partnered with the National Public Housing Museum to explore the social, psychological and emotional dimensions of public housing and related issues concerning urban disinvestment, housing and social justice. At CannonDesign, he will continue to explore opportunities to design for social equity and justice through Open Hand Studio — the firm’s platform for public interest design — and through community and civic partnerships across Chicago.
Reflecting on his decision to join CannonDesign, Andrew points to his love for the city of Chicago and the impact CannonDesign is having locally. “I am a firm believer in Chicago and have always been fueled by a desire to make a profound difference in the city,” he said. “CannonDesign has been deeply rooted in Chicago for decades and has the expertise, talent and scale needed to transform the way our communities think about solving complex problems. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with firms across the country and can say that I’ve never worked with a design practice with such rigor, creativity and capability than CannonDesign.”
Andrew earned a Master of Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelors of Science in Architecture from the University of Minnesota. Dedicated to educating the next generation of designers, he was a visiting lecturer at TU Delft in The Netherlands and a previous visiting professor at Virginia Tech. He has given lectures and talks around the world, using architecture, public policy and sociology as the basis for discussions in France, New Zealand, Mexico, The Netherlands and the United States.