Working between Chicago and New York, Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley founded their firm in 2012. RECORD asked them five questions about their work in preparation for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Scroll through the slideshow above to see some of their key projects.

Architectural Record: Tell us about your practice. What differentiates you from other firms?

Norman Kelley is superficial. For us, superficial carries with it not only notions of medium or surface treatment, but is motivated by the particularities of audience participation. We initially design for the quick look, but even more so, for the double-take—that is, the moment when we’ve caught your attention and you return for a closer look.

How do you get into the creative headspace?

It used to be that we’d go out and have a cigarette. Now that we’ve both quit, I still find myself taking cigarette breaks, sans cigarette. Short walks, up and down the block.

Who are your design heroes?

Leon Battista Alberti, Stanley Tigerman, Caruso St. John, Lina Bo Bardi, and Julie Rushing.

What do you hope to contribute to the Chicago Biennial?

Now, and always, our practice is concerned with teasing out the persuasive power of our discipline’s core craft: drawing. For the Biennial, we’re experimenting with the limits of drawing as it wrestles three-dimensions—in this case, a very large model that is at once a lightbox reenacting Jeff Wall's iconic photograph, Morning Cleaning, and an idiosyncratic puzzle of collaged surface treatments.

Most importantly, when it comes to pizza, deep dish or thin crust?

Carrie prefers thin crust, while Thomas goes for the deep dish.


The Chicago Architecture Biennial runs from September 19, 2017, to January 7, 2018. Read more of our coverage of the event here.