Prior to starting his own firm in 2010, Douglas Gilbert worked at Harboe Architects for three years and for Gunny Harboe at McClier for nine years. During that time, he was project architect on award winning projects such as Sullivan Center, Crown Hall at IIT, Reliance Building, Chicago Board of Trade and Annie May Swift Hall at Northwestern University. He is also an architectural historian with extensive experience researching and writing on historic architecture. He wrote National Register nominations for the IIT Academic Campus and Mies van der Rohe’s Chicago Federal Center, as well as for downtown Plainfield, Illinois. Mr. Gilbert is also the author of dozens of historic structure reports and assessments, including the Lake Forest Train Station, Bryan Lathrop House (The Fortnightly), Crown Hall and the Bjorklund Hotel at the Illinois Historic Site of Bishop Hill.
While he has worked on buildings of all styles and types, Douglas has specific expertise and experience in the architecture of the Prairie and Chicago Schools and mid-20th century Modernism. He has restored buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, Harry Weese, Daniel Burnham, Holabird and Root, and McKim, Meade and White.
Mr. Gilbert earned his BSAS from the University of Illinois, Urbana. As part of his undergraduate program, he studied at L-Ecole de Architecture de Versailles, France between 1990 and ’91. It was during his year abroad that he gained a full appreciation of the role preservation plays in sustaining vital and vibrant cities and communities. He earned his MArch from the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1994 with a specialization in Historic Preservation. He is a licensed architect in the states of Illinois and New Mexico and is NCARB certified.
Mr. Gilbert is generous with his time and expertise in the preservation field and community. He served as Chair of Oak Park’s Historic Preservation Commission from 2002 through 2008 and served on the Plan Commission for six years. He is the former Chair of the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council, which reviews all National Register nominations for the State of Illinois. He is a former Board President of the Pleasant Home Foundation, a house museum designed by Prairie School architect George W. Maher. Since 2013, he has served on the Restoration and Advocacy Committees of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and volunteered for 15 years with the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust’s annual Wright Plus house walk. He speaks regularly to various professional organizations and at conferences on preservation topics. He is a regular guest lecturer at the School of the Art Institute.
Since 2017, Mr. Gilbert has taught architectural history at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois. This is a two-semester survey course covering architecture from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans through 20th century Modernism and contemporary architecture. In the Spring semester, there is a particular emphasis on the architecture of Chicago.
In 2009, Mr. Gilbert was named the Francis J. Plym Traveling Fellow by the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois, Urbana. As the Plym Fellow, he spent 18 weeks traveling in Europe studying the preservation of 20th Century Modernist architecture, how Europeans incorporate contemporary design within a historic context and the ways in which they make historic buildings more sustainable.