Charles Smith, FAIA, LEED AP

Principal, Chicago Office Practice Leader

Charles Smith


Great design doesn’t happen in a silo. To provide solutions that best serve our clients, the communities they serve and our society, we must tap into the strength of our converging expertise. That’s Charles’ philosophy on transforming communities. 

With more than 25 years of experience in typologies spanning the education spectrum, Charles is a well-versed strategic leader who has built a career engaging with top-tier institutions across multiple education sectors. His unique perspective has helped clients reimagine the future of innovative spaces, as he has dedicated most of his career to the convergence of education, health, and science and technology. Making a strategic shift to reshape Chicago's design landscape, Charles leans into his commitment to civic engagement and passion for the city to lead teams of designers who are creating experiences that align with community needs, evolving service models and high-growth job sectors. 

A few clients and collaborators

  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Washington
  • University of Chicago
  • Miami University
  • Iowa State University


  • Strategic partnership with clients
  • Alignment of mission, budget and design
  • Unique design solutions for unique opportunities
  • Client communications and accountability


  • Mentoring the next generation of leaders
  • The strong women in his family—executive wife and two doctor daughters
  • Professional perseverance navigating highs and lows of the cyclical industry