Joseph T. Connell

IIDA, LEED AP
Principal, Chicago

If you grew up in Rockford, IL in the 1970’s and 80’s, chances are someone you knew designed or made industrial tools. This prevalence of drafters, designers, and industrial workers led Joe to receive some old triangles and a T-square from a neighbor, and he spent many hours of his youth drafting in his basement. All this practice allowed him to hone his skills from an early age, leading to a professional internship in high school.

This firm where he interned specialized in designing places of worship, which formed the basis for his human-centric design philosophy. He learned that design encompasses an expansive definition beyond aesthetics, most notably how space and structures can reflect the activity and aspirations of users. It is here that Joe learned how to create spaces that resonate.

Today, Joe knows every environment – whether an office space, hospital, or school – must honor and dignify its users.


One of Joe’s high school assignments was to design and draft a bench vise. The American Society of Manufacturing Engineers had sponsored the assignment, and qualifying work was entered into their annual contest. Joe’s design won, and his prize was a check for $20 and his name in the paper.  Very exciting for a 15-year-old, but nothing compared to the call he got the next day: a local firm told him to come by the office with his portfolio. He didn’t even have a driver’s license, let alone a portfolio, but they hired him anyway.

"Design should be an unselfish act of love. It is an expression of caring. Caring for how people behave, what they do and what they will feel like in a space."
Fun Fact

Joe is an avid cyclist and has been since he was a kid.  While his neighbors sleep, Joe’s in the saddle logging 20 to 30 miles before his workday begins.

Joseph T.'s Featured Work

Work
Interface Headquarters
Atlanta, Georgia
Work
Bank of Canada Head Office Renewal
Ottawa, Ontario
Work
SRAM Headquarters
Chicago, Illinois