A 33-year-old urban planner whose designs have shaped cities worldwide, a 34-year-old architect who executed the Land of Lincoln's first LEED-Gold-certified apartment tower and a 38-year-old builder with a penchant for online marketing programs are among the rising stars selected as ENR Midwest's Top 20 Under 40. The annual competition recognizes young design and construction professionals from the region who have made significant contributions to their professions and communities.
While other ENR Midwest award programs, including Project of the Year, Designer of the Year and Contractor of the Year, recognize outstanding firms and their endeavors, the Top 20 Under 40 Program focuses on individual accomplishment, in this case the contributions of 14 men and six women working in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri.
ENR Midwest received scores of nominations during a submission period extending from Nov. 1 to Dec. 8. An independent panel of five industry professionals selected those candidates they believed best demonstrated excellence and leadership in their professions and communities.
Panelists for the 2012 Top 20 Under 40 program included James Arends, vice president and business development manager with Gilbane Building Co., Chicago; Fred L. Brandstrader, senior project manager with CB Richard Ellis, Chicago, and president of the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects; Ashley Z. Hand, associate with AECOM, Kansas City, Mo; Colin Rohlfing, sustainable design director with HOK, Chicago; and Anna Stern, vice president with Tri-North Builders, Fitchburg, Wis.
Members of 2012's Top 20 Under 40 have distinguished themselves by making lasting contributions to their firms while contributing to the industry at large as leaders, innovators and educators. Young they may be, but they have demonstrated excellence and dedication beyond their years.
We salute them in the following pages.
His sustainable designs have made a lasting impression on his peers
He arrived in the U.S. with just a few thousand dollars, a scholarship and a dream of making a difference. Sachin Anand, co-owner of mechanical engineer dbHMS, has since become one of the region's leading advocates—and practitioners—of sustainable design. Anand has served the greater design community as a reviewer for the Chicago Green Permit Program and is a sought-after speaker on the topics of energy conservation codes, energy modeling and ASHRAE 90.1. "His creativity coordinating green solutions with architectural design is what sets him apart in my mind," says Jeanne Gang, principal with Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects.
His passion for past masters has created a legacy of his own
33, Senior Urban Planner
Inspired by his love of great cities, Zach Borders co-founded the Chicago-based Civic ArtWorks LLC, whose mission is to seek, restore and celebrate historic architecture and planning documents. He also has served as an adjunct lecturer at Chicago's DePaul University, where he has taught courses on the legacies of Chicago architects Daniel Burnham and Louis Sullivan. At HOK, Borders leads in the development of sustainable master plan and design guideline documents that have shaped cities throughout the world—from Chicago to India to China. To encourage his clients to take on a more sustainable approach to community building in India, Borders developed a master plan and design guidelines that ensured the new 300-plus-acre Discovery City would be the first project of its kind to receive India Green Building Council Green Township Certification.
This design-builder built a business unit that is second to none
37, Vice President and Regional Manager
ARCO/Murray National Construction Co.
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
Seeing opportunity to expand ARCO's presence in the Midwest, Brad Dannegger opened ARCO/Murray National Construction Co. in Chicago in 2005. Since then, the company's annual average revenue growth has exceeded 50%, making the enterprise one of the most profitable in ARCO's portfolio and a leading practitioner of design-build. Dannegger routinely employs lean construction methods to deliver high-performing, efficient and sustainable building solutions. In addition to supporting several community organizations, he gives employees a week off each year to perform charitable work. He also matches their charitable donations. Dannegger serves on the board of directors for Sharing Connections Furniture Bank, a nonprofit organization serving low-income families.
Her practice is devoted to serving underprivileged communities
Katherine Darnstadt recently formed the full-service architecture and design collaborative Latent Design in order to address conditions associated with underprivileged neighborhoods and communities. She also is co-director of Architecture for Humanity Chicago, which has performed more than $1 million in pro-bono design work to address issues ranging from food access to affordable housing. A current initiative calls for converting decommissioned city buses into caravans in order to provide produce to Chicago neighborhoods identified as food deserts. Darnstadt is a founding member of the AIA Chicago Chapter Community Interface Committee, a network for exchanging information relating to public interest work, as well as a point of contact for community and nonprofit groups seeking design solutions. Darnstadt teaches academic courses in sustainability at The School of the Art Institute Chicago and authored the USGBC Chapter Community Engagement + Inclusion Resource Guide. She writes for publications worldwide.
Integration has proven integral to his success as a builder
33, Managing Principal
Helios Design Build
His canny sense of the ways in which business, finance and construction can coalesce to create successful real estate developments prompted Aash Desai to found Helios Design Build, an integrated construction firm, in 2008. Since then, firm revenues have risen at an annual rate of 120% on the strength of a portfolio ranging from retail, office and restaurant projects to medical, residential and industrial facilities. Desai also is known for his innovative projects, including one of the first modular homes in Chicago, for which his firm received significant media attention. Desai is a member of the ACE Mentor Program of Illinois and has served on its Associate Board since 2006. In 2010, ACE honored him with its Education Award.
Her dedication to education has made her top of her class
In 2005, Lisa Gomperts created an in-house training program known as Schmidt Academy, whose curriculum has since served as the basis for more than 250 classes that translate into nearly 3,500 learning units. The 2011 course catalog included 43 courses ranging from LEED, building information modeling and technology trends to social media, building codes and marketing. The past two years have seen 100% employee participation in Schmidt Academy. Since the program's inception, Schmidt also has seen a significant reduction in turnover rates. Gomperts currently is working to adapt courses from the U.S. Green Building Council for Schmidt Academy.
This triple threat has made a name for himself
Gray Design Group
Larry Milles, a fellow principal at Gray Design, describes Toby Heddinghaus as "the rare white-rhino triple threat: He can design, he can sell and he is technically superior to most of his peers." Heddinghaus, who as a second-grader decided he wanted to be an architect, has been instrumental in the design or administration of several recent LEED projects, including the 300th Ronald McDonald House, a 25,000-sq-ft facility located in St. Louis. As Gray Design Group's youngest principal, Heddinghaus is also one of the firm's leading proponents of cutting-edge design practices. He recently participated in the MS 150 Gateway Chapter Multiple Sclerosis Bike Ride.
His civil engineering work is translating well in key regions 37, Vice President
At age 25, John Lashenik became one of only a dozen certified floodplain managers in the state of Indiana. Today, he leads American Structurepoint's civil engineering, survey and planning groups, as well as efforts to expand the firm's land-development practice throughout the state of Ohio. He also is spearheading the firm's efforts to expand and develop services to national clients and diversify into new markets. Recognizing the importance of attracting young talent to the engineering industry, Lashenik serves on ACEC Indiana's education committee and assists in administering the organization's scholarship program.
Her enthusiasm for environmental issues knows no boundaries
38, Principal Architect
After becoming the first Filipino accepted into Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Architects in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she received a master's degree in architecture in 2000, Lira Luis confounded expectations by living in tents and building desert shelters while attending the school. As an academic, she has taught architecture technology at the Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. She currently travels the world delivering keynote speeches about architecture and the environment and has spearheaded symposiums to raise awareness of environmental issues in Asia.
His globe-trotting career has made Mortenson a bigger global player
38, General Manager
Upon receiving his degree in construction management, Jeff Madden decided he wanted to travel the country building large, technically complex projects. He is currently involved with projects that span the globe and range from clean rooms, semi-conductor plants and vivariums to research, telecommunications and supercomputing facilities. He has not only mastered high-tech buildings but the endeavors they support, whether they involve routing cellular traffic through a country the size of Brazil or running simulations of a country's nuclear stockpile. Madden assists industry organizations such as the National Association of Women in Construction.
This Indiana native's best work may come out of Africa
Although Corrie Meyer has demonstrated exceptional leadership in crafting urban development and revitalization plans for Indianapolis neighborhoods, her most challenging work lies an ocean and continent away, where, on a volunteer basis, she has drafted a master plan for a self-sustaining university in Cameroon. The new African University will provide men and women from the rural community with access to higher education. Closer to home, Meyer has developed plans to revive the Mapleton-Fall Creek area of Indianapolis.