Chris-Annmarie Spencer

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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. Chris-Annmarie joined Wheeler Kearns Architects in 2004 and became a firm principal in 2019.

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 nonprofit – 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.

Chris-Annmarie also led the Go Green Community Fresh Market project in Englewood, in one of Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods that significantly lacks adequate access to healthy food. The renovation transformed 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. It is the first project in a much larger visionary, equitable-development campaign to revitalize Englewood called “Go Green on Racine”.

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 serves as the Board President for AIA Chicago Foundation and helped establish the Diversity Scholarships program. Chris-Annmarie lives in Oak Park with her husband, Grant Gibson, their two children, and their dog.

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
2022-2024 AIA Chicago Foundation Board President
2020 AIA Chicago Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee – Member
2020-2022 AIA Chicago Foundation – Vice President
2018-2019 AIA Chicago Foundation Board – Treasurer
2017-2019 AIA Chicago Foundation, Board Member
2017-present AIA Chicago Foundation – Chair of New Diversity Scholarship Committee
2013-present American Institute of Architects
2013-present National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)
2012-present Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA)
Individual Honors
2021 Crain’s Chicago Notable Women in Construction and Design
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
2022 AIA Birmingham Design Awards Juror
2020 AIA Dallas Design Awards Juror
2020 AIA National Young Architect Juror
2019 Texas Architects Design Awards