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Joel emphasizes the use of clear and fast sketching as part of the creative process, utilizing his freehand drawings as conceptual design tools. He incorporates his extensive experience as an educator at The Ontario Association of Architects, the Royal Architect's Institute of Canada and as adjunct faculty of architectural sketching at Columbia College Chicago.  Spanning 2009- 2013 during multiple summer programs for the joint Chicago Architecture Foundation - National Endowment of the Humanities Landmark Series: The American Skyscraper, Transforming Chicago and the Nation, Joel instructed groups of 30 primary school teachers from across the US both how to freehand sketch and teach those techniques to future students.

Joel Berman is the founder and president of Joel Berman Architecture & Design, Ltd., a Chicago architecture and design firm specializing in hospitality, adaptive reuse and heritage restoration as well as recording studio projects.  A registered architect and a member of the Association of Licensed Architects (ALA), the City of Chicago designated him a Self-Certified Architect.  The US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED-AP BD+C) also certified him as an Accredited Professional in Building Construction and Design.  Joel received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from University of Illinois – Champaign, Urbana.


Some of his most creative project work includes the South Loop renovation of a 1920s building into Chef Luciano, winner of the 2011 Landmark Award for Preservation Excellence and conversion of a 1906 historic turn-of-the-century Chicago firehouse into Plum Video Production Company, a major video production and editing studio. Built projects include Wicker Park’s The Den Theater, which included renovation and expansions to multiple live theater venues and bars as well as the construction of Dovetail Brewery on W. Belle Plaine.  Among other In Design transformational work in Bronzeville and Englewood, Joel is completing a gut renovation of a southside existing mixed-use building on E. 75th, including James Beard award-winning chef Constance Simms-Kincaid's 5 Loaves Eatery, white box retail, Harold’s Chicken, and second floor apartments.  The E. 75th program was awarded matching construction grants from both Chicago’s Retail Thrive Zone Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) and Neighborhood Opportunity Fund (NOF). Joel is also designing a ground up 7,000 SF Chicago’s Home of Chicken & Waffles in Bronzeville and a 28,000 SF recording studio and venue in Englewood.

A self-proclaimed, “River Rat,” Joel not only lives on the Chicago River, but also kayaks incessantly, rows crew with the Chicago Rowing Foundation and dragon boat races with the Greater Chicagoland Dragon Boat Club.  Most Sundays, when not at the architectural drawing table, he can often be found at the Jackson Park Yacht Club or kayaking to the Riverwalk or Chinatown to sketch and watercolor. He welcomes the public to view his artwork, having turned some of his Chicago landmark sketches into wallpaper that creatively adorn his Chicago office space. 

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