Aphrodite Angelakos, SE, AIA; FOREFRONT Participants; Marian Cook, Office of Innovation, State of Illinois

Eleanor Gorski, City of Chicago and Ann Thompson, Related Midwest during their panel presentations

FOREFRONT Participants share thoughts after a presentation

FOREFRONT Table Discussions being led by Gail Rost, UIUC, left and Mike Toolis, Stantec, right

Moderator Ellen Dickson, FAIA; Marian Cook presents to the participants; Sayuj Srivastava, MArch student and Craig Smith, RATIO



Joseph G. Burns, P.E., S.E., CEng, F.IStructE, F.ASCE, FAIA, RIBA, LEED AP

Managing Principal
Thornton Tomasetti 
Chicago, IL 

With more than 35 years of experience, Joe is a passionate advocate for the deeper integration of architecture and engineering, which he promotes through technical innovation in the design of structural systems, collaboration in practice and leadership in building science education. A member of Thornton Tomasetti’s board of directors, he oversees the firm’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, India and Brazil. A recipient of the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Special Achievement Award, he was also named to Structural Engineer’s Power List and Engineering News-Record‘s (ENR) Top 25 Newsmakers.

“The FOREFRONT Symposium comes at a critical time for the AEC industry, where design education needs to intersect with all aspects of delivery of projects in our built environment – architecture and planning, engineering and information technology, development and construction, and operations & maintenance.” - Joseph G. Burns


Nick Cameron, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Director of Digital Practice
Chicago, IL 

Nick, the Director of Digital Practice for Perkins+Will, develops and executes the strategy for advancing tools, workflows, and emerging technologies that enable our design teams to deliver outstanding solutions to our clients. His expertise lies at the intersection of design and process. Since joining Perkins+Will in early 2016, he has been instrumental in advancing and evolving the firm’s digital practice by focusing on the business of design, while consistently improving and streamlining our work processes and infrastructure.

Throughout his career, Nick managed complex projects throughout China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea with international design teams located in multiple offices around the globe. Time, geography and culture created challenges to the collaborative nature of architectural design. The alternative communication and process strategies Nick developed for these teams led to the design, development and launch of digital strategies, including desktop and mobile applications.

“BIM, however you define it, will fade away. New design technologies will arrive, ones which are easier to operate and automate laborious tasks allowing us architects to do what we have been doing for hundreds of years, design. Design will not change, just the tools will, I am sure of that.”  - Nick Cameron


Marian Cook

Chief Strategy Officer 
Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology 

Marian is currently the Chief Strategy Officer for Innovation and Technology for the state of Illinois, having moved to public service in 2015. She started as a Systems Engineer with IBM, reengineering processes, implementing systems and creating business and technology strategies. Moving to international consulting firms, she worked globally developing business growth and turnaround strategies. In management, she turned around troubled business units and founded new consulting practice areas. She successfully founded her own management and technology consulting firm, then moved to the client side as a technology and strategic alliance executive. Overall, she has held multiple senior executive roles, including CEO and CIO, across industries and company size.

“In a world of accelerating and converging trends, walls must come down and big picture thinkers will prosper. Seek and synthesize patterns, create new paths, and connect dots, not just collect dots. FOREFRONT creates a space to do this, where ideas and actions can come together to create the future.” – Marian Cook 


Lynne M. Dearborn, PhD, AIA

Associate Professor 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School of Architecture

Lynne M. Dearborn, PhD, AIA, is Associate Professor and past Program Chair in Health and Well-being for the School of Architecture, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She focuses on the intersection of environmental design, policy, well-being, and health. She works to create a built world where all people can be happy and healthy. Through her research, studio teaching, and service, she seeks to identify and ameliorate inequitable and detrimental environmental conditions experienced by marginalized groups. Applying evidence-based and participatory methods, her design studios focus on human needs, experiences, and aspirations, often working in partnership with communities challenged by post-industrial environments and accompanying disinvestment and unhealthy conditions. Through her service at the local and national levels, Lynne guides efforts to broaden the pipeline into architectural education and to create more supportive contexts for diverse students to insure a strong foundation and ultimate success in the profession. She is the author of numerous publications addressing questions of social justice and equity among minority peoples, engaging physical, social, economic, and political aspects of the environment to address human health and well-being. She leads an interdisciplinary team of faculty and graduate students exploring how designed environments can lead to healthier outcomes for vulnerable populations. This team is one of nine university-based teams in the inaugural cohort of the AIA’s Design + Health Consortium.

“Each day teaching architecture is a new adventure in refining students’ abilities to imagine a world superior to what surrounds us and then helping them figure out how to realize their vision. They may imagine a more beautiful world, a more just world, or a more ecologically sound world, but whatever the vision, their enthusiasm is infectious and keeps me going.” - Lynne M. Dearborn


Randall Deutsch, AIA, LEED-AP

Clinical Associate Professor 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School of Architecture

Randy Deutsch, AIA, LEED AP is the Associate Director for Graduate Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he oversees graduate student recruitment, admissions, yielding activities, the award of scholarships/fellowships, enrollment, orientation and advising; coordinating reviews in graduate design studios; collaborating in alumni development efforts; and, contributing to operational and strategic planning beneficial to the school and the Director. As Clinical Associate Professor he teaches Design Studio, Urban Design, Professional Practice, Construction Management, Building Technology and Digital Technology. In one of his construction courses, over 100 19-year-old architecture students each model and put together a caissons-to-rooftop set of high-rise documents in Revit. Randy is a BIM authority, IPD advocate, and licensed architect responsible for the design of over 100 large, complex sustainable projects, and has appeared in Architectural Record, Architect Magazine, DesignIntelligence and other periodicals. Randy has served on Chicago Architectural Club's Board of Directors, AIA Chicago Board as Director and Vice President, and leads an annual Executive Education program at Harvard GSD. Randy is recognized as a professional thought and practice leader, speaker, and recipient of the AIA Young Architect Award - Chicago.

Randy is the author of three books, most recently Convergence: The Redesign of Design (AD, 2017) on the nature of the ongoing convergence of technology and work processes, identifying where things are converging, and what that means for architecture. Randy is also the author of Data Driven Design and Construction: Strategies for Capturing, Analyzing and Applying Building Data (Wiley, 2015) on the innovative individuals and firms who are leveraging data to remain competitive while advancing their practices; and, BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice (Wiley, 2011) tracking the social and organizational impacts of the new technologies and collaborative work processes on individuals, organizations, the profession and industry. 

"We do students a disservice when we prepare them for a world that no longer exists, teach them the wrong things – well, and educate them for their first day out of school, and not for all the days thereafter."                                          – Randy Deutsch 

Ellen Bailey Dickson, FAIA, ALA, LEED AP, NCARB, NCIDQ

Bailey Edward 
Chicago, IL 

Ellen Bailey Dickson is founding principal of Bailey Edward, a woman-owned architecture, engineering, and construction management firm. Dickson holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and studied at the Ecole d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme in Versailles, France. She has been recognized as AIA Fellow, AIA Young Architect of the Year, NAWBO Business Woman of the Year, one of the ‘Top 100 Women Making A Difference’ and a ‘Woman of Influence’.

Dickson’s a/e/c practice has grown over its 25-year history from a sole proprietorship into a corporation with annual receipts in excess of five million dollars. As Managing Principal, Dickson acts as Principal-in-Charge, Project Manager and Senior Designer for government, education and community design projects. Her leadership skills create a positive team environment amongst the designer, client and contractor.

“Through active engagement between academia and practice, a much needed connection towards a mutual goal, meaningful design that will better society and provide a healthy practice, will turn into a strong self-supporting structure for the profession. There is an often-cited gap between architectural education and practice as if they were on opposite banks of a raging river. Today’s speeding current, as epitomized by the rise of technology and the architect’s diminishing role as team leader, is shifting the banks of both while eroding much of architecture’s foothold on shaping society. UIUC’s Forefront Symposium is laying the first stones of bridge-building between the shores of education and practice to ensure that we keep our profession valid and strong amidst change.” – Ellen Bailey Dickson 

Brian K. Ferguson 

Retired Principal
Los Angeles, CA 

Brian Ferguson has a diverse background in architecture, planning, workplace strategies, project development, and corporate real estate.  He has served those disciplines on both the client side and as a design/consulting practitioner.  He graduated in Architecture from the University of Illinois and spent most of his early career in educational buildings.  His concentration for the last 25 years has been on corporate architecture, workplace strategy, and client relationships.

Brian is a retired Principal from Gensler where he served in the LA and Charlotte offices as a Client Relationship Director and Head of a Regional Consulting Practice.   Prior to Gensler, his other senior positions included Global Director of Workplace Strategy at PricewaterhouseCoopers, VP Head of Occupancy Planning at First National Bank of Chicago, and Founding Partner at Kent Associates, Architects in Chicago.  He also had his own design/consulting practices in NYC, Tampa, and LA.

“Well-conceived design solutions, including the process by which they’re achieved, can power a client’s attempt to achieve broad organizational goals, realize tangible business objectives, and contribute top and bottom line benefits.  Architects, while uniquely positioned to demonstrate leadership and value in this process, have yielded much to other competition.  The system loop of Educator-Practitioner-Client needs to be strengthened in order to reverse this trend.” - Brian K. Ferguson


Peter Mortensen 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School of Architecture

Peter Mortensen joined the Illinois School of Architecture as Director in August 2014 on a three-year appointment that concludes in August 2017. Previously, he served for four years as Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, in which role he had leadership and coordination responsibilities in the area of undergraduate academic affairs. Prior to that, he was for four years an Associate Provost Fellow. Mortensen’s faculty appointment is in the Department of English; his scholarship focuses on the histories of rhetoric and literacy in North America.


Ann Thompson 

Senior Vice President, Architecture and Design
Related Midwest  
Chicago, IL 

Ann Thompson is Senior Vice President at Related Midwest. She directs the company’s Architecture and Planning Department and is responsible for architectural design, engineering, zoning and municipal approvals for all of the company's projects. Since joining Related in 1995, Ms. Thompson has managed numerous residential and mixed-use developments for the company, overseeing the design of nearly 2,700 residences throughout her career. Her notable projects include Park Tower, Residences on Lake Shore Park and 340 on the Park, the first LEED-Silver residential tower in the Midwest. Ms. Thompson was involved with the redevelopment of three stalled condominium towers in the South Loop now known as the South Loop Luxury by Related collection, leading the full redesign of the buildings’ common areas and amenity spaces, and selecting new finishes for individual units. Additionally, Ms. Thompson has led design efforts for Related Midwest’s recent luxury developments in Chicago: 500 Lake Shore Drive, OneEleven, Landmark West Loop and One Bennet Park. She is currently working on a master plan for a 60 acre site in Chicago as well a legacy site at 400 Lakeshore Drive.

​Ms. Thompson is a licensed architect in Illinois and a member the American Institute of Architects. She is also a member of the Lycée Français de Chicago Facility Committee and serves on the Benefit Committee for the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Ms.Thompson serves on the board for both Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Chicago Loop Alliance and the Womens Board of the  Alliance Francais.​ She received both her Bachelor and Master of Architecture degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Michael A. Toolis

Vice President and Regional Business Leader
Stantec Architecture
Chicago, IL 

Michael A. Toolis, Vice President and Regional Business Leader for Stantec Architecture, provides direction and support to ensure the alignment of top-line strategy and bottom-line performance of Stantec regional business centers. In this capacity, he provides leadership in driving net revenue growth, strategic account leadership, market diversification strategy, new acquisition integration, design excellence and innovation in professional practice.

Former Chairman and CEO of VOA Associates Incorporated until the firm’s acquisition by Stantec Architecture, Mr. Toolis led the growth strategy, market diversification and reputation of the multi-disciplinary design services firm. Under his leadership, VOA amassed an impressive portfolio of award-winning national and international projects. His vision to expand the scope of design opportunities for VOA professionals led to the successful integration with Stantec Architecture.

Mr. Toolis is an active civic and industry leader who has been devoted to community philanthropy and professional mentorship throughout his career. He is an active board member on not-for-profit community organizations and foundations, and supports the University of Illinois Architecture Program and University of Wisconsin School of Real Estate.

As an architect, Mr. Toolis has over 39 years of experience leading significant architecture and design projects. He is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board, is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is a LEED Accredited Professional.


Jon Van Benthem, AIA, LEED AP

Industry Strategy Manager for Architecture
Denver, CO 

Jon is the evangelist for the architectural profession at Autodesk both inside and outside the organization. His role is to align Autodesk offerings with the business of architecture, acting as a liaison among our clients and our internal sales, consulting and development teams.

A licensed architect (Colorado) and graduate of the University of Illinois (BSAS ’92, MArch ’94), Jon has worked in traditional architecture firms, design-build companies, consulting/owners’ representation, and real estate development.  He was Owner and Managing Principal of his own architecture firm, abe Designworks, for several years before joining Autodesk.

“Technology can be quite bipolar, having both a light and a dark side.  Its incursion into the design professions – and architecture in particular – is met simultaneously with excitement and dread.  To keep from being consumed, we must learn to engage technology differently and to leverage its potential as a force to enhance the value of our work.” - Jon Van Benthem


William Worn, AIA

Clinical Associate Professor 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School of Architecture 

William Worn has national NCARB registration and is registered in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Arizona, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. He served as Commissioner on the Illinois Building Commission and Chaired the Accessibility Committee. He is past President of the American Institute of Architects in Illinois, representing the interests of more than three thousand architects statewide. Mr. Worn is Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois where his research interests lie at the intersection of sustainability and health. William holds both LEED(TM) and EDAC national accreditations.

Mr. Worn is recognized nationally for his expertise in matters related to housing for people with disabilities. He has developed curricula for teaching the accessibility requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act to HUD FFHEO enforcement officers. He was selected by the Illinois Attorney General to assist in the re-writing of the Illinois Accessibility Code; and was selected by the Illinois Capital Development Board to teach seminars statewide on the new Illinois Accessibility Code. He served on the MOPD Accessible Housing Task Force in Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General’s Access Committee. He was awarded the AIA Citation of Honor for his work on behalf of people with disabilities.    

“In the past, the answer to every architectural question was a building. Now the best answer is a beautifully crafted question. Our role as educators is to inspire in students the ability to link questions with innovation.”  - William Worn, AIA


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