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Best of Chicago 2009 

Best Emerging Architect

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Rendering of Masdar Headquarters in the United Arab Emirates by Gordon Gill

Rendering of Masdar Headquarters in the United Arab Emirates by Gordon Gill

Courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

The Reader's Choice: Gordon Gill

We no longer butcher many hogs or make much steel, but Chicago can still turn out talented architects—and Gordon Gill is one to keep an eye on.

Gill, 45, specializes in environmentally sustainable large-scale buildings. His designs have a machine-like aesthetic, looking—and functioning—as much like devices as buildings. While an associate partner at the Chicago office of architectural powerhouse Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Gill led the design of China's Pearl River Tower, a 71-story building (set for completion next year) that harnesses wind and sun to produce as much energy as it uses. Now at Smith + Gill Architecture, the firm he formed in 2006 with fellow SOM expat Adrian Smith, Gill has upped the ante with Masdar Headquarters, an eight-story mixed-use project under construction in the United Arab Emirates. The complex is billed as the world's first positive-energy building—meaning it will produce more energy than it consumes.

Gill hasn't snagged a groundbreaking Chicago project yet, but his firm's got the next best thing: a major green updating of the Sears—er, Willis—Tower that may include painting the black 110-story behemoth silver. —Lee Bey

&Our readers' choice: Jeanne Gang

  studiogang.net

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