Ralph Johnson

FAIA, LEED AP
Principal, Design Director, Chicago

Ralph grew up on the South Side of Chicago, just down the street from Frank Lloyd Wright’s R.W. Evans House. He found the design of the house fascinating, and by the time he reached grade school, he had already decided to become an architect. Ralph, never one to stray from his goals, became the first in his family to go to college.

Ralph started his career by doing industrial architecture for Chicago’s famous stockyards. Though not a particularly glamorous job, he knew it would be a great learning experience—and he was right. From the stockyards, Ralph eventually went on to design some of the most iconic buildings in Chicago and around the world. He was inducted in 2015 into the prestigious National Academy of Design.

Outside of architecture, Ralph takes inspiration from minimalist art of the 1960s. He lives by the philosophy that the best thing anyone can do is learn from their toughest challenges.

An early sketch of the Shanghai Natural History Museum, which was inspired by the pure geometric form of a nautilus shell.
“Architecture to me is about layering the practical into the artistic. Some architects are known for a specific style, a certain form or expression; my work, while rooted in Modernism, is based on context—a concept that is the foundation of my approach.“
Ralph at 100 North Riverside Plaza
Ralph led the design of 100 North Riverside Plaza, one of eleven projects recognized with an AIA National Honor Award. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
Ralph playing banjo
Ralph loves bluegrass and plays the banjo. Here, he performs at a Chicago studio "jam session." He also enjoys watercolor painting in his free time.
“You never stop learning. Everything is a learning experience, especially for new graduates. Graduation is just the beginning.”
Ralph on "Modernism," 2010

Ralph's Featured Work

Work
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Charlestown, Massachusetts
Tinkham Veale University Aerial
Work
Case Western Reserve University Tinkham Veale University Center
Cleveland, Ohio
Station at NIght
Work
Damen Green Line Station
Chicago, Illinois
Work
Northwestern University Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center
Evanston, Illinois
Thumbnail Exterior
Work
United States Coast Guard Headquarters
Washington, D.C.
Exterior
Work
Northtown Library and Apartments
Chicago, Illinois
Work
American University of Beirut Medical Center, New Medical Center Expansion
Beirut, Lebanon
Exterior
Work
Shanghai Natural History Museum
Shanghai, China
Aerial
Work
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Chicago, Illinois
Thumbnail
Work
Rush University Campus Transformation Project
Chicago, Illinois
Work
Northwestern University Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center
Chicago, Illinois
Exterior
Work
University of Virginia University Hospital Expansion
Charlottesville, Virginia
Work
Skybridge
Chicago, Illinois
Work
Contemporaine
Chicago, Illinois
Exterior William Jones Prep
Work
William Jones College Preparatory High School
Chicago, Illinois
Suzhou SciTech Museum - rendering
Work
Suzhou Science and Technology Museum
Suzhou, China
Aerial
Work
Shanghai Oriental Blue Ocean Plaza
Shanghai, China
Work
The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sheikh Zayed Tower and The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center
Baltimore, Maryland