Chris Nikkel, Senior Associate

Chris Nikkel

Chris is a versatile designer whose experience includes healthcare, hospitality, education, banking, residential and non-profit projects. He specializes in digital architectural technologies including modeling, imagine, rendering and design presentations to create both virtual forms and physical structures.

Chris worked on a multi-phase project in Normal, Illinois that encompassed a 113-room Hyatt Place Hotel and a 33-unit residential building. He helped to lead the initial design efforts and followed the project through construction documents. The project embraces the Town of Normal’s vision for their Uptown neighborhood, and joins with recent and planned projects to extend its character. Chris also led the design for a ski resort in Taos, New Mexico. The design for the ski club is part of a larger master plan for an internationally known resort town in the western United States. The complex program includes a multi-level enclosed parking garage, high-end ground level retail, a private club and roof terrace, as well as a multi-unit residential project.

Most recently Chris led the design and implementation of the renovation of 203 North LaSalle in downtown Chicago. The 30,000 sf renovation of the first two floors includes the LaSalle Street entry lobby and canopy, interior arcade, tenant lounge, fitness center and conference facilities. In Chris’s role as architect of the building, he led the development of interior building standards and continues to work on various projects as needed.

Chris is active with the Chicago Architecture Foundation educational programs, acting as a mentor and juror for local high schools involved in the Newhouse program and competitions.


The most interesting building in Chicago is…

One of them would have to be the Union Station Power Plant at 301 W. Taylor. The building itself is almost a perfect cube, but the grouping of the windows and proportion of the smoke stacks give it an elegant vertical expression. I am especially drawn to the feeling of permanence created by its isolation among the train tracks and river.


My two favorite materials would have to be…

Steel and Concrete. Steel can go through such a transformation over time. Many of my favorite color compositions are created as steel rusts and deforms over time, not by the hand of a designer. On the flip side, concrete has both the ability to be incredibly solid and elegantly fluid. This flexibility urges the designer to define what the material can be.


When I’m not at ESA I enjoy…

Photography, running, and exploring Chicago


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