Craig O'Halloran FCIAT, Chartered Architectural Technologist
Words by Róisín Ní Chatháin FCIAT, Chartered Architectural Technologist
Craig O’Halloran FCIAT is an accomplished Chartered Architectural Technologist with over twelve years of experience. As a Studio Lead and Design Manager at Gensler, he co-leads a dynamic team focused on projects for clients in the workplace sector. As the North Central Region Professional Services Practice Area Leader at Gensler, he oversees projects in Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis markets, ensuring exceptional outcomes and fostering strong client relationships.
Craig joined Gensler’s London office in 2014 as an Architectural Technologist. Shortly after becoming Chartered, Craig transitioned into the role of Design Manager. For Craig, becoming Chartered demonstrated his competence in the industry of design and construction. Craig believes that his strong technical foundation that he has developed through Architectural Technology has allowed him to flourish on the world stage. Craig has been blazing a trail for the discipline of Architectural Technology in the United States since 2016. Although the discipline of Architectural Technology is not formally recognised in the US, this has not stopped Craig from gaining a significant role in projects, his firm and in the industry. His point of view through the Architectural Technology lens has allowed him to lead clients through transformational change in all his work. From his leadership of a large studio to still rolling up his detailing sleeves, he brings impact to all his projects and those around him.
Through the very successful ‘Where it’s AT’ video series, Craig worked with CIAT to ensure that the discipline of Architectural Technology has a spotlight on it. Craig is an asset for CIAT when it comes to the promotion of the discipline and institute on the global stage.
In Industry he has always seen himself as a connector between the traditional view of design vs. technical expertise. Demonstrating this connection in 2015, his design team won ‘Best Conceptual Project’ at the London Planning Awards for ‘The London Underline’. This revolutionary project focused on disused London transport infrastructure and how it could be used as a catalyst of culture, retail, transportation and sustainability. The project received worldwide attention.
When moving to Chicago in late 2016, he was keen to keep inspiring others and to raise the profile of Architectural Technologists in the US and he joined The Americas Centre Committee.
He is a founding member of BIG CHI (Building Intelligence Group Chicago), a networking organisation with monthly meetings to help educate, support and deliver intelligent commercial building solutions. In 2019, he presented the Gensler US Workplace Survey, along with an introduction to Gensler and his projects to the June quarterly meeting of BIG-CHI, with over 40 attendees.
Craig’s US project work has garnered recognition, including awards such as the 2023 American Institute of Architects Awards for Interior Architecture for the Willis Tower Repositioning Project. From street to sky, the repositioned building provides inviting hospitality on an unmatched scale, dissolving the borders between work and life, and fostering a collaborative, warm atmosphere. Named “Catalog,” an homage to the building’s original tenant, the Sears Roebuck Company, the reimagined base of Willis Tower connects Chicagoans and visitors with five levels of retail, dining, shopping, and immersive entertainment. As a Project Lead for the repositioning work of the project, his workplace design and delivery, building intelligence, technical acumen and Passive House Design approach heavily contributed to the success of this project.
Craig’s current firm, Gensler, has had made a commitment by declaring all their work will be completely carbon neutral by 2030. He has brought this initiative into hyper focus with one of his longstanding clients, BDO USA, LLP as well as leading the conversation with his studio. Over the past year, working closely with BDO, Craig’s team has aligned their Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance goals. Craig has worked tirelessly with the BDO Real Estate Team to focus on a new product selection that aligns to BDO’s ESG goals, from insulation to fabric selection. To reduce embodied carbon, only materials/products that are manufactured in North America are selected. Most importantly, material choice at its base level allows for some of the more impactful decisions up front that can start to move the needle as it relates to the environmental output. Selecting natural stone instead of plastic, using silica leather instead of real leather or choosing wood over VOC (volatile organic compound) wallcoverings. This extends to some of the larger products and finishes used within interior office fit outs. All carpet and resilient flooring used is certified carbon neutral, even the carpet glue is non-toxic. Energy-efficient LED lighting with dimmable controls and daylight harvesting (uses less energy during the day) is used throughout. The introduction of a plant strategy throughout the office goes beyond improving air quality but brings positive impact to the staff using these offices.
Craig has now completed projects for over 65 unique BDO locations across the United States from Anchorage, Alaska, to Miami, Florida and from San Diego, California to Boston, Massachusetts. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Craig and the team have worked closely with BDO on defining the future of their offices, creating flexibility within the office for future alternations but also in the short term, making sure all spaces were highly functional for what the employees need to be most productive and engaged. From the introduction of rooms with divisible partitions to ensuring “day two” design/construction projects could take place with minimal disruption to the existing office, this approach has allowed for less space to build in the interim while creating offices that work better for employees and clients alike. Craig construction knowledge has been critical to the success of this built in flexibility.
In March 2020, Craig’s team were already in the middle of construction for a new floor as part of LinkedIn’s Chicago Office, located at 525 W Monroe in Chicago. Over that summer, Craig led his team working with LinkedIn globally on defining their future of workplace. These learnings were then directly applied to their entire campus in Chicago and to all LinkedIn offices globally. Restart and refresh standards were implemented to the previously permitted fifth floor expansion of the existing office. The space was designed to be more flexible, while also providing privacy, and as with all LinkedIn projects, there was a heavy focus on using the most cutting edge environmentally friendly available materials and projects. Craig led his team while working closely with LinkedIn and engineering partners to ensure the project was constructed to allow for the best possible outcomes, and in 2023, this project was certified LEED Gold.
He co-leads a studio of 30 team members consisting of architects, interiors designers and project managers. The studio is responsible for cutting edge office projects in Chicago, across the United States and globe. His impact in the field of Architectural Technology has been on the global stage. He is a sought-after design expert, thought leader, and collaborator across Gensler, with projects in the United States, Costa Rica, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan. Craig believes in creating equal opportunities for all and works very closely with studio leads across the Chicago office, as well as regionally with the Minneapolis and Detroit offices.
With a diverse educational background in transport operations and technology, Architectural Technology and urban design, Craig brings a well-rounded and unique perspective to his role. Prior to joining Gensler, he gained valuable experience at renowned firms in Dublin and London. These experiences and focus on Architectural Technology allow for Craig to bring a different point of view to his work and mentorship within the United States.
Craig was awarded Fellow Membership in 2021 for significant contribution to and excellence in Architectural Technology. As a result of his significant influence in the realm of Architectural Technology on a worldwide scale, and his unwavering dedication to elevating the recognition and prominence of Architectural Technologists within the United States. As a Fellow, he continues to push the boundaries of the industry, maintaining that role as critical connector, and most importantly continue to inspire the next generation of Architectural Technology talent.