Today, Chicago is known as one of the most architecturally impressive cities in the world. As the Windy City will boast the tallest structure ever designed by a woman (The St. Regis Chicago – Jeanne Gang), we’re recognizing a few famous Chicago architects who are women and have made their mark on the Windy City.

Marion Mahony Griffin

A pioneer for women in architecture and famous female architects in history, Marion Mahony Griffin was one of the first women to graduate from MIT and the first licensed female architect in Illinois. Exceptionally talented, Griffin became Frank Lloyd Wright’s first employee, paving the way for other women in her field. Remembered for her romantic watercolors and powerful presence, Griffin showcased her talents across the world, spreading an appreciation for Prairie-style homes in Australia and India especially.

Famous female architect in history Marion Mahony Griffin

Photo Credit: National Library of Australia

Sketch of building by famous female architect Marion Mahony Griffin

Photo Credit: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Danielle Tillman

The only African American woman in her graduate school program, Danielle Tillman knew she wanted to be an architect from a young age. Tillman currently serves as Managing Director at bKL Architecture, where she continually pursues her passion for community development and public work. With a passion for infusing architecture with social consciousness, she has sought out projects that naturally integrate with the community, including Chicago’s Whitney Young Library. Her work spans across Chicago’s neighborhoods, from numerous Chicago Public Schools projects and the GEMS World Academy building in Lakeshore East, to Exhibit on Superior in River North and Wolf Point West on Chicago River’s edge, placing her among an ever-growing number of famous female architects making an impact in the community.

Famous female architect Danielle Tillman

Photo Credit: bKL Architecture

The Chicago Young Library designed by famous woman architect Danielle Tillman

Photo Credit: bKL Architecture

Carol Ross Barney

A native Chicagoan and former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Carol Ross Barney has dedicated the majority of her impressive career to the public realm. Barney helped found Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA) and served as the first president. Now the founder and principal of Ross Barney Architects, Barney continuously receives accolades for her work and designs, garnering recognition as one of the Windy City’s beloved and famous women architects. She recently led the expansion of the Chicago Riverwalk, one of the city’s most popular destinations for locals and tourists alike.

Famous woman architect Carol Ross Barney

Photo Credit: Whitten Sabbatini

Chicago Riverwalk extension designed by famous female architect Carol Ross Barney

Photo Credit: Ross Barney Architects

Jeanne Gang

Jeanne Gang has taken the Chicago skyline by storm, having designed the world’s current tallest structure designed by a woman, Aqua, only to overtake that feat with The St. Regis Chicago. Inspired by ecological systems, Gang has become a leading architect of her generation with a uniquely creative approach to design that connects her projects to the surrounding communities and environment. With the completed St. Regis Chicago tower, Gang will lead the historic expansion of O’Hare International Airport with its new Global Terminal which will place Gang among the most famous female architects from Chicago.

Famous female architect Jeanne Gang pictured with The St. Regis Chicago tower

Photo Credit: Studio Gang


We hope you enjoyed reading our list of some of the most famous female architects in Chicago. The women we mentioned have provided unique contributions to the architecture space, to the city of Chicago, and to the world. There are many more who have made a lasting impact on the Windy City, and we celebrate these women, their accomplishments, and their future endeavors.