Chris-Annmarie Spencer

Born and raised in Manchester, Jamaica, Chris-Annmarie received a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies from the Caribbean School of Architecture at the University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica. After receiving her degree, Chris-Annmarie and her family immigrated to the United States and she continued her education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, earning a Master of Architecture. In 2004, Chris-Annmarie joined WKA and in 2019, she was promoted to a firm principal.

Chris-Annmarie has led many noteworthy projects, with a particular focus on community-driven work and adaptive re-use including The Alice at the Goodman Theatre, Mansueto High School, and Wolcott School – the first school designed specifically for students with learning differences in the Chicago region. Most notably, on Chicago’s west side, Chris-Annmarie helped transform a century-old factory structure and three vacant overgrown lots into a prominent community asset, Inspiration Kitchens Garfield Park. This non-profit – which offers job training for unemployed and underemployed individuals – has won ten national and local awards including the 2013 Rudy Bruner Gold Medal Award for Urban Excellence.

Currently, Chris-Annmarie is leading the Go Green Community Fresh Market project in Englewood – one of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods that significantly lacks adequate access to healthy food. The renovation of a dilapidated two-story masonry building built in 1906 into a grocery store serving fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and prepared meals, along with social services, is the first project in a much larger visionary, equitable-development campaign to revitalize Englewood.

Chris-Annmarie’s outstanding work and leadership in the profession has been recognized with many prestigious awards including the 2015 AIA Chicago Dubin Family Young Architect Award, and the 2017 AIA National Young Architect Award. In 2019, Chris-Annmarie was among 40 accomplished and diverse individuals nominated as a 2019 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, joining a legacy of building, and strengthening the pipeline of civic leaders who will influence the future of Chicago. In 2008, Chris-Ann and her husband Grant Gibson, an architect at Garafolo Architects won third place in the White House Redux Competition. In 2012, Chris-Annmarie was recognized as a local innovator by the Chicago Urban League during their Economic Empowerment Summit.

Chris-Annmarie is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). She participates in the Architects in Schools (AIS) program, Green Apple Day of Service, and annually hosts students from Wolcott School for a career day. She is Treasurer on AIA Chicago Foundation’s Board and helped establish the Diversity Scholarships program. Chris-Ann lives in Logan Square with her husband, Grant Gibson, and their two children.

2004                    . MArch, University of Illinois at Chicago
1998 BArch, Caribbean School of Architecture
Professional Experience
2019 Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago, Principal
2004-present Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago, Project Architect
2003-2004 Xavier Vendrell Studio, Chicago, Intern Architect
2003 Worn Jerabek Architects, Chicago, Intern Architect
Professional Registration
Professional Affiliations
2017-2019 AIA Chicago Foundation, Board Member
2013-present American Institute of Architects
2013-present National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)
2012-present Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA)
Individual Honors
2020 Interior Design Best of Year – Firm Leader, Honoree
2019 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow – Class of 2019
2017 AIA National Emerging Professional – Citizen Architect Exhibition, Washington D.C.
2017 AIA National Young Architect Winner
2015 AIA Chicago Dubin Family Young Architect Award Winner
2012 Chicago Innovator “Thinking Beyond the Box, Empowerment through Innovation”
Chicago Urban League
2008 White House Redux Competition, Third Place
2008 CAC Burnham 2.0 Exhibition
2004 10 Visions Exhibition with Garafalo Architects
2004 Roche Traveling Fellowship, UIC
2004 Schiff Fellowship, Nominee, UIC
2004 SOM Traveling Fellowship, Nominee, UIC