robert benson

robert benson

Chicago, IL, US



Architect, writer, artist, Robert is identified by his peers for his creativity, passion, humor, and talent. An adjunct professor for many years, he structures his design studio similarly to the manner in which he taught. His love of learning has him constantly gravitating toward new opportunities and challenges.

Operating with a conceptual mind and a fascination with light and void, Robert has garnered over 30 major design awards from the AIA and IIDA. His work has been published and exhibited both nationally and internationally and he was named to Building Design + Construction’s National 40 Under 40. Robert continues to lecture across the country, most recently on “Post-Pandemic Adaptability” and “Storytelling: Ideas, Experience, and the Nature of Provocation”.

Highly adaptable, Robert’s design expertise is informed by a broad range of project typologies. From Higher Education and K-12 to Science and Technology, Commercial Shell and Core to Hospitality, he makes connections and discovers insight through the unique challenges of each typology. Robert’s passion for research and ability to listen enables him to synthesize the interests of his client partners into the architecture they create.



Racer Design Studio, Chicago, IL, US, Founder | Partner

Founded RACER Design Studio

A high performance Design Studio that thrives in a dynamic era of change. Architecture is fixed and expensive to adjust and therefore must be designed in a manner allowing versatility to ensure future success. Curiosity is complimented by creativity and driven by technological aptitude.

Collaboration is the key to the design process. While much is changing in our culture, we as human beings are still the same. We need quiet concentration, we need energetic spaces, we need to feel that we are part of something greater than ourselves. We have different perspectives and needs which means one size definitely will not fit all. The design process is personal, and at RACER we design with you rather than for you.

Jul 2021 - current

CannonDesign, Chicago, IL, US, Design Principal

Professional Experience

Higher Education/ Institutional/ S+T
UniJohns Hopkins APL B201 Lab + Office Bldg, Laurel MD Western Michigan University, Student Center, Kalamazoo MI Purdue Bioscience Innovation Bdlg, Calumet IN
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Data Sciences and Mathematics BDLG University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chemistry BDLG, Madison WI
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chemical Engineering BLDG Donor pkg, Madison WI Western Michigan University, 1,000 units student housing, Kalamazoo MI Northwestern University, Wirtz Performing Arts Center, Evanston IL
Argonne National Laboratory, Buildings 460, 200, 213, Lemont IL Medical College of Wisconsin, New Shell and Core Office, Milwaukee WI

Showtime Entertainment Headquarters, West Hollywood, CA Fulton Office, New Shell and Core, Chicago, IL
GSA JCK LIFE +, Headquarters Workspace, Chicago IL Brunswick Corporation, Headquarters, Lake Forest, IL InMovement, CONFIDENTIAL, Chicago, IL
DCI Artform, Workspace - Digital Cave Chicago IL Britannica, Chicago IL
CA Ventures, Workspace, Chicago, IL
Echo Global Logistics, Headquarters Workspace, IL IDEXX R+D workplace, Portland ME
Michigan Plaza Plaza/ Lobby, exterior skin renovation, Chicago IL

Pasco Technical High School, Pasco County FL
Rockford Public School District 205, new k-5 prototype school, Rockford IL Chicago Jewish Day School, Chicago, IL

Cripple Creek Boutique 120 key hotel, Cripple Creek CO

Mar 2014 - Dec 2020

4240 Architecture, Chicago, IL, US, Associate Principal / Design Director

Aurora Health Care, Milwaukee, WI
Certus Bank Executive Headquarters, Greenville, SC Certus Bank Administrative Headquarters, Greenville, SC Chicago Manufacturing Center, Chicago, IL
Electronic Arts, Chicago, IL Investment Bank Office, Chicago, IL
Kerosene Creative Services, Chicago, IL Law Office, Chicago, IL
Quixote Corporation, Chicago, IL Rohner Letterpress, Chicago, IL The Poetry Foundation, Chicago, IL Polk Bros Foundation, Chicago, IL Sapient, Chicago, IL
Transwestern Commercial Services, Dallas, TX Transwestern Investment Company, Chicago, IL 101 North Wacker, Chicago, IL
150 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 200 North LaSalle, Chicago, IL
Certus Bank Retail Prototype, Greenville SC Certus Bank Retail, Charlotte NC
Certus Bank Retail, Macon GA
Mesa Del Sol: Culver Studios, Albuquerque, NM Regatta Fitness Center, Chicago, IL
Superior Block 8, Superior CO Hotel/Casino/Convention Center, Atlantic City, NJ

Higher Education
21st Century Housing Project and Student Life and Modular Student Housing Study
Bouwkunde Building- Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Holland, Netherlands Center for Urban Agriculture - Chicago State University - Chicago IL
Illini Union Remodel University of Illinois - Urbana IL
Ikenberry Residence Hall, Urbana, IL (LEED GOLD Certified) University of Illinois - Champaign IL FAR Oglesby/Trelease Renovation, Urbana, IL
Public/Private Enterprise - Modular Student Housing, Dekalb, IL

Institutional / Not-for-Profit
Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services, Irving, TX (LEED Gold Certification)
Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection, Van Horn, TX
GSA Recovery State Street South, Chicago, IL (LEED GOLD Certified) Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Denver, CO
Mixed Use Municipal Building, Highland Park, IL
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Gloucester, MA Peace Lutheran Church, Lombard, IL
The Poetry Foundation, Chicago, IL Polk Bros Foundation, Chicago, IL
Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Oak Park, IL

2501 Larimer Mixed Use, Denver, CO
Blue Ribbon Loft Apartments, Milwaukee, WI Karcher Artspace, Waukegan, IL
Kingsbury Estates, Chicago, IL Mill Quarter Mixed Use, Bend, OR Private Residence, Chicago, IL Wolfram Residences, Chicago, IL
Wrightwood Residence, Chicago, IL

Jan 2004 - Mar 2014


Ecole D'art Americaines, Fontainebleau, France, Ecole des Beaux Arts

Photography; Painting; Sculpting; Installation Art; Landscape Architecture; Architecture; Traveling

Jun 1996 - Aug 1996

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, MA, US, MArch, Architecture

AIA Gold Medal - Top Ranked Graduate Student
Thesis: Billy + Krystal: Perception Through Transitions in the City. Urban Design Studio - Taipei, Taiwan Center for Advanced Visual Studies - Emphasis in Photography; Krzysztof Wodiczko, Joseph Bartscherer

Sep 1993 - Jun 1996

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, US, BArch, Architectural Studies

Basic Design and Structures Education
Humanities Emphasis in Psychology

Sep 1988 - Jun 1993


AIA Design Award, AIA Chicago Divine Detail, Britannica, Award


IES Design Award, IES National Merit Award, Michigan Plaza Lobby, Cannondesign, Award


Fast Company - Innovation By Design Award, RPS Cherry Valley School, Cannondesign, Award


AIA Design Award, AIA Chicago, Brunswick Corp Headquarters, Cannondesign, Award


IIDA Design Award, IIDA RED Award, Echo Global, Cannondesign, Award


AIA Design Award, AIA Chicago Divine Detail, Echo Global, Cannondesign, Award


IIDA Design Award, RED Premier Award, Certus Bank, 4240, Award


AIA Design Award, AIA Chicago Merit Award, 11 West Quincy, 4240, Award


AIA Design Award, AIA Illinois Honor Award, Chicago Law Firm, 4240, Award


IIDA Design Award, RED Best in Show, GSA - 11 West Quincy Court, 4240, Award


IIDA Design Award, RED Premier Award, GSA - 11 West Quincy Court, 4240, Award


AIA Design Award, AIA Denver Merit Award, Certus Bank, 4240, Award


American Architecture Award, European Centre for Arch/ Chicago Athenaeum, Chicago Law Firm, Award


SPARK! Architectural Design Award, hydrogenerator, 4240/ Gensler, Award


AIA Design Award US Customs and Border Patrol, Van Horn, TX, 4240, 1st Place


40 under 40, Building Design + Construction recognition program, Other


SPARK! Architectural Design Award, Glow: Pedestrian Bridge, 4240, Award


AIA Design Award Glow: Pedestrian Bridge, 4240, Award


AIA Design Award A Place for One Space for Many, 4240, Award


Finalist Urban Open Design Competition, Chicago, 4240, Other


Honorable Mention West End Bridge Design Competition, Pittsburgh, 4240, Honorable Mention


Honorable Mention Eisenhower Interstate Exhibit Design Competition, UIUC, 4240, Honorable Mention


AIA Design Award Office for Investment Banking Firm, vWA, Award


Honorable Mention Chicago Prize “Stop Go: Chicago Portal Project”, v + b, CAC/ CCAIA/ FOD, Honorable Mention


Finalist Emerging Visions Portfolio Competition, v + b, CCAIA/ CAC/ Knoll, Other


AIA Design Award Polk Bros Foundation, vWA, Award


Special Mention Chicago Public School Competition, vWA, CPS, Other


Finalist City of Chicago Visitor’s Center Competition, vWA, Bureau of Tourism, Other


AIA Design Award Our Lady of Guadalupe Design Competition, vWA, Award


Honorable Mention Townhouse Revisited Competition, Graham Foundation, Honorable Mention


Honorable Mention Millennium Plaza Competition, Village of Wheeling, Honorable Mention


Design Award Arc et Senans prize Untitled Installation, Ecole des Beaux Arts, Award


Areas of Specialization