Perkins + Will
Perkins+Will Chicago / Courtesy Perkins+Will


Crown Hall at IIT
Crown Hall at IIT / Courtesy Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr
Hot Doug's
Hot Doug's / Courtesy Wikipedia
Tree Studio Building
Tree Studio Building and Annexes / Courtesy Wikipedia



The Chicago flagship office of Perkins+Will, established in 1935 by Lawrence Perkins and Philip Will, Jr., remains the largest in the firm, with more than 200 architects, interior designers, and planners. From its first project nearly 75 years ago, the Crow Island School, to the Rush University Medical Center Hospital Tower, the Chicago office has a legacy of award-winning projects in nearly every arena, including K-12 and higher education, healthcare, science, technology, commercial, and civic design.

Perkins+Will surveyed 25 people in its Chicago office and compiled their recommendations below.


Best Architecture, Old and New 

There is no shortage of architecturally significant sites in Chicago; topping our list are the Rookery Building, the vibrant sunken Exelon Plaza at Chase Tower, and Crown Hall, a classic Mies building that is home to Illinois Institute of Technology’s architecture school and an icon of modern architecture.

Among newer architectural additions to the cityscape, we love the Poetry Foundation building on Superior—an understated but striking building that seamlessly blends in with its urban context and nature. Come for the reading room and wonderful community events; stay for the gorgeous design.

We enjoy stopping by the Graham Foundation for its architecture and modern art exhibits not to mention its scenic Gold Coast neighborhood, which includes Wright’s Charnley-Persky House.

Best Dining, Drinking, Entertainment and Shopping

We are big fans of newer Brendan Sodikoff restaurant Cocello for its impressive craft cocktail menu (think delicious negronis), relaxing atmosphere, and thoughtful Italian menu with great seafood and seasonal ingredients.

GT Fish & Oyster boasts some of the best fish and chips in town, custom martinis, good people-watching opportunities, and great design, to boot.

Worth the trek west is Hot Doug’s, the legendary hot dog establishment that will close its doors for good this October. Go on a Friday and brave the line for their famous duck fat fries.

For a much more upscale vibe, dine inside a classic Mies van der Rohe building (and home of our office) at Travelle at the Langham Hotel.

New darling on the scene, Boarding House from Alpana Singh (of “Check, Please!” fame), is beloved for not only its food but also its stunning setting and beautiful décor. 

CH Distillery is a cool space in an old loft building, and the distillery is the star of the show—creative cocktails made with liquor made on the premises.

The tiki lounge is back with Three Dots and a Dash, a hip bar that serves delicious food (to go with all that rum).

Chicago is largely considered the birthplace of improv comedy, and as such, has produced a number of past and present luminaries, including Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert. Check out Baby Wants Candy—a hilarious improvised musical that integrates audience suggestions. For a quintessential Chicago live-music experience, head to the Green Mill—jazz of all types in a richly historic space.

If shopping is on the agenda, check out the Modern Cooperative, a well curated vintage furniture and accessory shopping experience in the renovated Thalia Hall in Pilsen. While you’re in the neighborhood, stop at Dusek’s next door for a meal, or head to Skylark for hard-to-find craft brews on tap and tater tots. Heading north? Retro-modern Andersonville enclaves Scout and Room Service are worth a visit. Finally, we love P.O.S.H. for antique French and English housewares and gifts in the Tree Studio Building.