Perkins&Will Chicago office announces next generation of leadership

Gina Berndt

The founding studio of Perkins&Will, signaling the transition of leadership to a new generation, has named Lindsey Peckinpaugh as Managing Director and Bryan Schabel as Co- Design Director. Peckinpaugh, who leads the studio’s Sports, Recreation and Entertainment practice, succeeds Gina Berndt, who takes on a new global role as Chief Marketing Officer for the firm, the second-largest architecture and design firm in the country. Schabel, whose work has won multiple design awards, joins Ralph Johnson — one of the world’s most recognized architects—as Co-Design Director.

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to have the opportunity to be leading the Perkins&Will Chicago studio,” says Peckinpaugh, who is recognized within the firm and among clients for her dedication to innovation, experimentation, and collaboration. “As the founding office and one of the largest studios, Chicago sets a high bar for design excellence, project delivery, and culture firmwide,” she adds.

Schabel, a protégé of Johnson, says he will build on the studio’s legacy of design excellence. “I look forward to creating an exciting culture that heightens the design energy, inspiring people to get more involved in projects and in design discourse—in the studio and in the community,” he says.

The elevation of Peckinpaugh and Schabel underscores the firm’s commitment to continuity and promoting from within, and recognizes their roles as team leaders, mentors, and award-winning designers of projects in the U.S. and globally.

“I’m proud of the job Perkins&Will does developing talent and providing opportunities for people to grow,” says Berndt. “Lindsey and Bryan bring unique skills to the firm and to the studio and position us exceptionally well for the future.”

Berndt and Johnson continue their leadership roles in the Chicago studio and firmwide on key projects and strategy development.

Lindsey Peckinpaugh

Lindsey Peckinpaugh, AIA – Driving design innovation in an inclusive, vibrant culture

“As a woman, as a single mom, as someone who just came to the firm via acquisition in 2017, you could say that the odds were not in my favor to reach this incredible milestone. This sort of thing only happens in an incredible firm that is keenly focused on the quality of our work and the health of our culture.”

Architect Lindsey Peckinpaugh takes on the role of Managing Director of Perkins&Will’s Chicago studio after four years with the firm. She joined through the 2017 merger with Sink Combs Dethlefs, a national leader in sports, recreation, and entertainment architecture. It was Peckinpaugh who built and managed Sink Combs Dethlefs’ successful Chicago practice, which focused on community recreation centers and events, athletic, and performance facilities at colleges and universities. During that time, she developed a reputation for building consensus and championing inclusive, diverse teams.

A passionate advocate for diversity, representation, and stakeholder engagement, Peckinpaugh leads several projects in and around Chicago that are designed to bring communities together. Her clients include the Village of Oak Park, Illinois, with whom she has partnered to design a net- zero-energy, multi-generational community and mental health services center, and the City of Columbus, Indiana, with whom she is working to transform an abandoned shopping mall into a comprehensive community health and wellness center. She is an active member of Perkins&Will’s Justice, Equity, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Council, contributing to the firm’s inclusive culture, and she’s actively engaged in her hometown and university communities, as well. In 2020, she won a Volunteer of the Year Award from Crossroads YMCA and an Outstanding Alumni Award from Ball State University, where she serves as a guest lecturer and sits on the Architecture Professional Advisory Board at the R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning.

Peckinpaugh’s experience working with clients to create places that prioritize well-being, equity, and resilience—core components of the firm’s Living Design framework—is particularly noteworthy, as clients across every market sector are seeking these project outcomes.

“Lindsey is a natural leader. She impresses me, our colleagues, and our clients every day with her clarity of communication, strategic thinking, compassionate teamwork, and finesse in managing complex projects,” says Gina Berndt, principal and former Managing Director in Chicago, now Perkins&Will’s Chief Marketing Officer. “If there’s anyone who can successfully lead our practice into the future, it’s Lindsey.”

Bryan Schabel, AIA – Building on a strong foundation, bringing renewed energy

“This transition says something about how important legacy is: There continues to be a respect for the history of our firm and our founding office. Not to say we do not and cannot continue to reinvent ourselves in many ways, but there is a foundation that we continue to build upon with strong values.”

Bryan Schabel

Over his 25-year career at Perkins&Will, architect Bryan Schabel has designed projects for clients in the K-12 and higher education, science and technology, corporate and commercial, and residential sectors. A protégé of Ralph Johnson, one of architecture’s most celebrated designers, Schabel has spent much of his career collaborating with and learning from Johnson; both have a penchant for thoughtful planning and programming as a core element of good design.

Schabel’s work has been recognized with 30 national and local AIA design awards. These include the nationally celebrated Ryan Fieldhouse and Ryan Walter Athletic Center at Northwestern University; The Contemporaine, a glass and exposed concrete mixed-use residential building; and Bowling Green State University’s College of Business.

Currently, he is working on the Damen Green Line Station in Chicago’s Near West Side neighborhood, whose residents have historically been underserved, as well as a socially inclusive, net-zero-energy community center in the Village of Oak Park, Illinois—a project he co-leads with Lindsey Peckinpaugh.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Bryan for a quarter of century—that’s a long time!— and so I can attest to his skills as an excellent designer, a strong leader, and a consummate professional,” says Ralph Johnson, principal and now Co-Design Director of the Chicago studio. “I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Bryan on projects locally, nationally, and internationally.”

Global | Gina Berndt, FIIDA – Creating talented teams, trusted client relationships

“I am truly excited about the next chapter for our firm. There is enormous opportunity to build on our strong, inclusive culture. And that is fundamental to serving our clients with sustainable, resilient design that enhances well-being.”

For more than 30 years, Gina Berndt has been a nationally-known leader in design and placemaking. Her reputation for building successful interdisciplinary teams and trusted long-term relationships has earned accolades from colleagues and clients, alike. From her role as a Managing Principal of The Environments Group—an interiors practice she co-founded in 1991 that merged with Perkins&Will in 2008—to leading the Chicago studio of Perkins&Will for the past nine years, Berndt has achieved success for her clients through a unique combination of design skill, business savvy, and love of storytelling.

“Among her many talents, what makes Gina a standout is her undeniable grasp of the power of brand and storytelling, and how both provide value to our clients,” says CEO Phil Harrison. “When clients work with us, they get excellent design. They also get the support of passionate, creative storytellers who can help take their projects to the next level—and to the right audiences. There’s no better person to lead those storytellers than Gina.”

Berndt serves on the Perkins&Will board of directors and chairs the firm’s marketing board. Under her leadership, Perkins&Will has been recognized as a “Most Admired Firm” by Interior Design; one of Architectural Record’s Top 300 U.S. Architectural Firms; an AIA Chicago “Firm of the Year”; and a 2021 Fast Company “Brand That Matters.”

Berndt is an active member of the Chicago business and civic communities. Passionate about advancing the architecture and design industry, she is particularly interested in how design can address homelessness. She is a board member of All Chicago, which works to prevent and end homelessness; a trustee for the Chicago Architecture Center; and an executive committee member of the Chicago Central Area Committee, which is dedicated to shaping Chicago’s growth, equity, and quality of place.