In 1999 he founded FREE (Fernando Romero EnterprisE). The firm maintains a strong research component while translating moments in contemporary society through architecture. Romero worked under Rem Koolhaas at OMA, while project manager he led the competition-winning design for the Casa da Musica. He has lectured worldwide—throughout Europe, North America, Asia, and South America, and has been a guest professor at Columbia University in New York. His approach to architecture has been influenced by a deep focus on research and innovation. Romero has published books that reflect his vision of architecture, including Translation, Hyperborder and most recently Simplexity, with German publisher Hatje Cantz.




Keith Besserud, AIA, is the director of BlackBox, a research-oriented computational design resource within the Chicago office of Skidmore Owings & Merrill.  With design partner, Ross Wimer, Keith set up the BlackBox studio in 2007 to lead the development and integration of advanced computational concepts within the multi-disciplinary design processes of the office.  In particular the group is interested in exploiting various types and sources of data to guide form-finding design processes.  Within this approach the group relies on parametric frameworks built with scripting expertise and parametric software, as well as a variety of simulation and search optimization tools, including those that are commercially available as well as those that are custom-developed by the team.



Director Juan Betancur AIA, LEED AP, has extensive experience in the design of supertall, commercial and mixed-use sustainable building projects around the world. Before joining AS+GG in 2008, Juan was an associate and studio head at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he concentrated on large-scale projects in China.  Juan’s approach to design emphasizes the geographic, environmental and cultural contexts of each project. Rather than imposing a preconceived style, he allows the project to grow organically out of the site and the design process itself, always striving to arrive at a result that wouldn’t fit anywhere else.



Tom Brock, AIA, is a practicing architect in Chicago, and Associate Studio Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, where he has taught since 1999.  He holds a B. Arch degree from the University of Cincinnati and an M.Arch degree from the University of Pennsylvania. At IIT he teaches advanced undergraduate design studios and directs graduate-level comprehensive studios. He also serves as chair of thesis projects and conducts advanced technology courses. In 2011, he was appointed director of IIT’s Master of Integrated Building Delivery degree program. In 2010, he was named PCI’s Young Educator of the Year for his work in establishing and conducting the PCI Foundation’s Funded Architecture Studio Program.



James has more than 25 years of international practice experience along with his academic experience. He has worked with Raphael Vinoly, Richard Gluckman and Fox & Fowle in New York City and PTW in Sydney. His projects have included work in the US, China, Spain, Switzerland and Australia. James is a registered architect in New York and New South Wales Australia. His teaching responsibilities include third and fourth year design and building technology courses, and electives exploring issues of integrated practice, prefabrication and digital production. James is a leader in developing award winning interdisciplinary design studios and using software to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration at Cal Poly. His work and research also focuses on connecting conceptual design to digital fabrication methods using digital tools to supplement the design process. James is currently developing an updated Master of Science in Architecture program.



Russell Fortmeyer is a design journalist, electrical engineer, and sustainability consultant with the LA office of the global engineering firm, Arup. He is involved in master planning, building projects and advanced digital modeling analysis, sustainability framework development, and built environment research. He is a contributing editor for GreenSource magazine, columnist for Architectural Review Asia Pacific, and contributor to Architectural Record, where he previously worked as the technology editor. Russell serves on the boards of the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design and the LA chapter of the US Green Building Council. He is a member of the  faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and has lectured at numerous architecture schools, including the University of Southern California, University of Sydney, and the University of New South Wales. His key projects have included the LEED Silver-rated Seattle Public Library, LEED Platinum-rated TreePeople Center for Community Forestry in LA, Kinghorn Cancer Center in Sydney, and the sustainability master plan for the COFCO Agricultural Eco Valley in Beijing. His book, Kinetic Architecture: Innovative Facades, co-authored with Charles Linn, is due from Images Publishing in early 2013. He holds a BS in Architectural Engineering from Kansas State University and MA in Architecture from UCLA.



Debra Gerod joined Gruen Associates, a 65-person broad-based planning and architectural firm, in 1988 and became a partner in 2002.  During her tenure at Gruen Associates, Ms. Gerod has focused on the collaborative delivery of projects, primarily in the public sector.  Her work includes large-scale, significant civic and cultural projects such as courthouses, embassies, performing arts centers, museums, libraries and transportation projects.  Ms. Gerod is the leader of the team recently selected to Master Plan Los Angeles’ historic Union Station. Ms. Gerod is a Regent of the California Architectural Foundation, a member of the California Council’s Integrated Project Delivery Committee, a member of the Board of the Los Angeles Affiliate for the ACE Mentoring program and serves on the National Affiliate Council for ACE.  She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado/Boulder.



Dean Hill, ASLA, CGP is the Director of Sustainability at greenscreen®, the leader in green wall technology since 1993.  As Director of Sustainability, Dean is formulating the corporate environmental agenda and forwarding sustainability initiatives relative to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) directives.  He has over 18 years of experience in the design/build and landscape construction sector.  Dean is very active at both the national and local levels of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).  He currently sits on the Landscape Architecture Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee, ASLA PR and Communications Committee and is a past president of the Indiana Chapter.  Dean holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.


Kurt is a design engineer with the renowned consulting engineering practice Buro Happold working with facades, structural design and complex projects.  His career spans twenty years and multiple industries from automotive, industrial, product and architectural design.  The technological journey started during the automotive digital design revolution, and segued into the architecture technological shift when he joined Frank Gehry’s studio in 1999.  Of the ten years with Gehry, 6 years was in a facilitative position as a director of design technology.  He specializes in the “engineering of design”, and all areas that encompass technical design; technology integration, process development, rationalization, modeling, simulation, optimization, collaboration, fabrication, rapid prototyping, and reverse engineering.



Rick Kruger, Director of Technical Services and New Product Development, has been in the metal wall panel business since 1984. He joined Copper Sales in 1988, which became a division of Firestone Building Products in 2005. During his tenure, he has designed numerous wall panel systems, including both barrier and rain-screen systems fabricated out of aluminum plate, honeycomb and composite materials. A graduate of University of the Pacific, Kruger is a member of the Metal Construction Assn. and CSI.



Will Laufs, PhD, PE LEED AP, IWE works in the field of structural, façade engineering and specialty structures design in the US and worldwide, focusing on the use of new materials, transparent glass enclosures, challenging international structures with complex geometries and architectural building elements, where 3D- structural form- finding and detailing have an important influence on appearance and identity of spaces. He works in New York, having been educated in Germany. Will believes in the unity of architecture, sustainability and structural engineering, focusing towards one single integrated design approach, having been trained in both Structural Engineering and Architecture (



Jennifer Marmon founded Platform for Architecture + Research in Los Angeles after completing a master’s degree at The Southern California Institute of Architecture. With PAR, Jennifer created a platform for exchange and diversity of thought that focuses on iterative development of design ideas and their value in the world. In the early days, Jennifer worked with HOK Architects where her experience on complex projects such as museums, institutions, and high rises formed a broad practical foundation that she has built upon in subsequent years. Alongside her architectural practice, Jennifer has been active as a visiting critic at The Southern California Institute of Architecture, University of Southern California’s School of Architecture and UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design. In the aim of exploring new architectural models and materials, she recognizes the merit in combining practice with academia. Accordingly, PAR commits substantial resources toward proactive research and development proposals.



Justin Nardone is an architect and design engineer at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill in Chicago. He has diverse expertise in computation, fabrication, interoperability, and analysis. At SOM he creates and manages complex digital models for the design and structural disciplines. Prior to his work at SOM he was a consultant with Gehry Technologies specializing in fabrication, simulation and risk management. He also has experience in interactive media systems and has collaborated on installations for The Art Institute Chicago and MoMA. In addition, his expertise has enabled him to teach a variety of courses at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and other accredited schools as well as training architecture professionals in the use of computer aided design technologies.


Mic Patterson is a designer, researcher, educator, and entrepreneur whose work focuses on the building skin. He has concentrated his professional and academic career on advanced facade technology and structural glass facades. Most recently, Patterson participated in the establishment of the Enclos Advanced Technology Studio (ATS) where he works as the Director of Strategic Development. Enclos is a leading national specialty facade contractor, and ATS is its dedicated facade think-tank with the mission of anticipating and realizing the future of the building skin. Patterson has taught, written extensively, and lectured internationally on diverse aspects of advanced façade technology. He is the author of Structural Glass Facades and Enclosures.



AIA, LEED AP joined the engineering firm of Thornton Tomasetti in 2008 to help develop and lead their Building Skin Practice, a division of the firm that specializing in the design and engineering of innovative building skins. Edward has over 15 years of experience in architecture, innovative building skin technologies, and building systems fabrication and construction. Throughout Edward’s career he has specialized on projects involving sustainable and innovative building skins. His experience evolved from design positions within international architectural firms to a design/technical leader of a prominent ETFE design/manufacturer to his present role as a skin consultant for Thornton Tomasetti.


Bradley Samuels is a Founding Partner at SITU FABRICATION, a digital fabrication shop that specializes in the engineering and construction of complex and technically demanding projects. Working primarily in the fields of fine art and architecture, SITU FABRICATION’s team of architects, artists, and craftsmen are equipped to develop and implement creative, intelligent and efficient fabrication solutions for projects in a wide range of scales and materials – from sculptures to building facades.




Jonatan Schumacher is responsible for research and strategic development related to integrated structural design, facade design and building information modeling. Having studied in the fields of product design, architecture, manufacturing, kinematics, engineering and computer science, his versatile expertise includes digital fabrication, parametric modeling, automatic and generative geometry creation based on performance parameters, computational analysis in the disciplines of fluid dynamics, environmental and structural performance and work-flow integration through automation and custom interoperability. He has in-depth technical knowledge in various parametric modeling platforms, as well as data mining, problem modeling and knowledge exchange through the APIs (application programming interfaces) of REVIT, TEKLA, CATIA/Digital Project, Rhino/GRASSHOPPER and Ecotect. Jonatan works closely with the structure, skin, sustainability, and performance groups at Thornton Tomasetti. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Product Design and Engineering from Middlesex University, and a Master’s degree in Architectural Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, where he also teaches as an Adjunct Professor.



Daniel is a specialist in advanced modeling and computational design strategies, with expertise spanning a wide spectrum from architectural systems optimization to urban energy modeling.  His interest lies in the development of man-made things with the efficiency, intelligence and beauty found only in natural systems.  Since earning his Master of Architecture from the Architectural Association of London, Daniel has worked as computational design researcher and/or consultant for Gensler (where he works currently), Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, PositivEnergy Practice, OMA (Rotterdam office), ARUP (London office), Ross Lovegrove Studio(London), and X-Architects (Dubai).  His work and writing has been published in Detail, AD, Architectural Record, Dwell, and many others.



Mark Sexton is a founding partner of Krueck+Sexton Architects.  Along with Ronald Krueck, he designs and manages all of the firm’s work. His dedication to craftsmanship, material, and detail enables the firm’s built work to express the values of modern design with a timeless quality. Mark’s strong belief that exceptional architecture can and does make a difference to people’s lives is a hallmark of the firm’s work.  His portfolio is defined by a wide range of project types that explore the possibilities of glass.   The firm’s work includes award-winning projects such as the Herman Miller Showroom in Chicago, Phillips Plastics Corporation in Wisconsin, The Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies and the restoration of 3 landmarked Mies van der Rohe buildings in Chicago, including S.R. Crown Hall and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive.



Ann Smith is the leading expert in architectural mesh systems, having over 10 years of experience as Business Development Manager with Cambridge Architectural. Ann partners with every client during the initial design phase to develop a mesh solution that’s custom fit to the architect’s design intent, seamlessly integrating sustainable mesh systems into a project. Her collaboration with multidisciplinary teams of architects, contractors and installers has led to momentous projects such as the Hotel Americano in New York City and the Miami Intermodal Center. Ann instructs courses on the dynamic potential of mesh systems as well as AIA accredited courses on design and functionality of sustainable mesh systems.



Geoffrey Thün is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan and a founding partner of RVTR Inc., a research-based practice with studios in Toronto and Ann Arbor. His research pursues the integration of complex systems theory in design practice and ranges across scales from examination of regional ecologies and infrastructures to the development of high-performance prefabricated building systems and interactive responsive architectures. This work has received support from the U.S. Dept. of Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NRCan, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Power Authority, and the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute. With partner Kathy Velikov, Thün was recipient of a 2008 Young Architects Forum Award from the Architecture League of NY, and a 2005 Canadian Architect Award of Excellence. RVTR was awarded the 2009 Canadian Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture. Thün was the faculty lead for North House, an inter-institutional trans-disciplinary project to develop a net-energy producing residential prototype for the near north, recognized with a 2010 OAA Award of Design Excellence, and a 2010 R&D Award of Excellence from Architect Magazine and a 2011 RAIC Award of Excellence for innovation in the practice of architecture



Jeffrey Vaglio offers a versatile skill set with experience in both structural engineering and architecture. He works as Associate Director of the Enclos Advanced Technology Studio (ATS) in Los Angeles, a collaborative think-tank that is devoted to investigating the future of façade engineering and project delivery strategies.  He has participated in the design and engineering of numerous structural glass facades and skylights including cable net walls, point-supported glazing, grid shells and double-skin facades.  Jeffrey is currently a PhD Candidate in Architecture at the University of Southern California where he has also studied innovation theory and leadership extensively.



Sasha is Façade Design Director and Commercial Office Building Practice Area Leader at Gensler with over 14 years of experience on projects in the United States, Asia and Europe, including large-scale mixed-use developments, office buildings, schools and hospitals. With a strong emphasis on research and implementation of sustainable design, Sasha is particularly interested in exterior envelopes and advanced concepts of high-performance building facades and their integration. Between 2008 and 2010, Sasha worked at Gensler Shanghai office where he led a team designing the Exterior Facade for the 632-meter Shanghai Tower, which will be the second tallest building in the world when completed in 2015.  Educated at University of Belgrade, Columbia University and University of Illinois, Sasha is active member of CTBUH – Young Professionals Committee, and also serves as board member of ICBEST- International Council on Building Envelope Systems and Technologies. Sasha currently leads façade team on new Rehabilitation Institute tower in Chicago and lectures across the country on façade design and Genselr’s work.