March 2 , 2018


InForm   WINTER 2018      Issue 2


by: Mina Rezaeian, associate Brininstool + Lynch





Collectively, David Brininstool and Brad Lynch have been leading studios and lecturing at architecture schools for more than 20 years.

David Brininstool has been associated with Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago since 1998 and is currently an adjunct professor. Brad Lynch started teaching at Archeworks in 2002 and has been a visiting critic at Syracuse University three times, taught a design studio at Illinois Institute of Technology and at Taliesin, and frequently lectures and does reviews at architecture schools globally.    

As one of the newest associates here at Brininstool + Lynch, I sat down with them to talk about their experiences in the studios and lecture halls over the years.

Mina Rezaeian: David, what drew you to IIT and what has kept you there so long?

David Brininstool: Donna Robertson, the dean at IIT at the time, called and asked.  I’ve stayed because, as an admirer and disciple of Mies, I am drawn to the opportunity to teach in his house and be a small part of that legacy. I co-teach the original Mies studio, which is meaningful for me – and I get the pick of the litter as far as future employees. There is also a strong sense of community at IIT, of which I enjoy being a part.

MR: Over the many years you’ve been teaching there, how has the Mies studio grown and evolved?

DB: The studio has remained in many ways the same, a predetermined problem we work to resolve: long-span, column-free space projects.  We have started focusing, in line with larger changes at IIT, less on the object and more on the metropolis as an urban endeavor. Regardless of the focus, I have always maintained the method of developing the non-architectural concept—the bigger idea—first.  All students struggle with taking time to develop “the why.”

MR: Brad, you’ve taught in Chicago and elsewhere, what philosophy do you bring to students, regardless of where or what you’re teaching?

Brad Lynch: The most important thing for young architects is to develop a confidence with their own abilities and talents.  A technical skill set should become second nature for someone working in this field in order to be confident in their ability to produce good, competent work.

MR: What’s the most interesting thing about teaching architecture?

DB: That it’s a design problem in and of itself. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how you convey design. It’s a challenge.  And what I’ve come to believe is you can teach a perception and a methodology and try and direct it, you can foster it, but you can’t actually teach design. I always emphasize to students that you’re designing what the program or end user needs, not what you want.  It’s a value system – this is not an ego trip.  The world is asking us for things that help them work better, live better. It’s not about us, the architects. The key is getting clients to ask for what they need. That’s the true challenge in all of this, really.  You can tell right away if a student will get it.

BL:  The challenge of giving students optimism coupled with tough love.  Sacrifice and experience, and the ability to be self-critical help build success in architecture.  I think it’s very important for students to understand the balance between theory and practice. In very positive ways, architecture is evolving as a profession from when I started – technology, equality, and environmental issues. Innovation has always been critical, but I still think it’s incredibly important to help students find what’s valuable and meaningful in all of it, in regard to building something that will last longer than a design trend.

MR: You are both Chicago architects who have been vocal about the power of the architectural legacy of Mies and Wright. What does it mean to you and how do you think you represent it in your lectures and studios? And what is the state of that legacy today?

BL:  They were both extraordinarily good architects in very different ways. When I think of Mies’ methodology and process, it’s all Mies.  But, with Wright, pick your fantasy. Wright’s intuitive thinking was amazing. He lived through three different periods of architecture and reinvented himself in each one.  Chicago was the greatest city in the 20th century for architecture in the world. However, with a few exceptions, I believe we have some work to do in the 21st century in leading, rather than following, in order to maintain that level of excellence, innovation, and design leadership that made Chicago famous and relevant.

MR: What’s the most consistent advice you give all students?

DB: Keep it simple. If there’s a problem, get rid of it.  If you can’t get rid of it, engage it. Don’t overreach.

BL: The only way you can sell a design is to be absolutely confident and passionate about what it offers.  You must be critical of yourself and your ideas before you give them to others. You have to be ready for any and all critiques. Everyone has an opinion about architecture, you need to know how to accept informed criticism as well as how to respond to the less educated opinions.

MR: Do you find it difficult to both teach and manage your own firm?

BL: When I teach, the practice may suffer. But it also has great benefits – namely participating in the greater world of design.  I would say that teaching and managing a firm can be mutually reinforcing.

DB: In teaching you have to stay relevant and that is also good for the practice. Teaching also gives you good insight into the next generation as far as people and who to hire and what their expectations are going to be. And I was able to hire you, Mina.



Brininstool+ Lynch is the associate architect on Diller Scofidio+Renfro’s Rubenstein Forum project. 
The construction begins in April.
The Rubenstein Forum will be a shared hub of intellectual and social exchange for the University of Chicago and invited scholars from around the world. Capitalizing on its prominent position in Chicago’s Midway Plaisance, the project provides expansive views of the university campus and surrounding neighborhoods as well as downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan. The slender tower is composed of a series of vertical ‘neighborhoods’ that pair meeting rooms with informal shared social spaces. Each neighborhood has its own unique perspective of the surrounding community resulting in a tower with no ‘front’ or ‘back.’
Sited in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, 180 North Ada is a contemporary acknowledgment to the historic, yet vast changing surroundings.  
180 North Ada is currently under construction. It will offer a variety of housing configurations, ranging from studios to three-bedroom units, with amenities including pool, fitness, bar, lounge, kitchen and private dining room, as well as an outdoor terrace. With multiple public transportation options just steps away, 180 North Ada will provide residents easy access to all Chicago has to offer.



January 9, 2018

MP3  |  Residential Design Magazine 

Our project MP3 featured in Residential Design's first issue of 2018 - a great way to start the new year!


Just about 20 miles south of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, an obelisk will rise from rolling Wisconsin farmland. Designed for an urban Chicago family, it will provide four-season immersion in nature. “It’s a nice piece of land—about 120 acres, filled with ravines, sandstone rock croppings, and 300-year-old oak trees. The house is just for enjoying that land. This whole thing is an icon or a monument to that,” says architect Brad Lynch, who’s designed multiple projects for the same clients.

For design inspiration, the firm tapped the colorful history of the “Badger State,” which derived its moniker from Cornish miners who worked the mineral deposits and bermed dwellings into the hillsides to protect against the long, harsh winters. In reference to this, the entry sequence takes visitors below ground along an axis carved by Cor-Ten steel and into the blunt end of the long, tall, rectangular building. “It’s this whole idea of tunneling through the house to get in,” Brad explains.

A soothing natural color palette coats the building. Masonry exterior walls evoke the weathered wood of agricultural buildings, earthy reds and browns line the interior walls, and Cor-Ten elements suggest old farm equipment rusting in the fields. Parallel 40-foot-long, 10-foot-high spans on the broad sides of the house open to the landscape, joining stone interior floors with matching exterior pavers to triple the breadth of the 18-foot-wide house. These portals and operable skylights provide natural ventilation, while the building’s hefty thermal mass aids passive heating and cooling. With its geothermal system and wind power, the project should approach net zero, says Brad, “Essentially, it’s off the grid.”
—S. Claire Conroy

See here for the full issue, article on page 70,



November 27, 2017




They call it the third coast, but it’s first in so many ways. It holds 21% of the world’s total surface fresh water and is home to 35 million people in both the United States and Canada. I spent both my child and adulthood in Wisconsin, Canada, and Illinois — this is where much of my professional life has played out as well.  

The Great Lakes region and its potential for population growth and development has been the subject of two recent publications — one from the Urban Institute titled The Future of the Great Lakes Region and another, funded by the Graham Foundation, Third Coast Atlas: Prelude to a Plan. Both discuss the very real opportunities here for urban development and for personal and professional reasons were very exciting to read. The results of the studies confirmed much of what I have known — this place is resource rich with lots of available land and has a population positioned and prepared for a rebirth. 

While some may call this flyover territory, what they are flying over is the place that created the American automobile industry, the producer of America’s breadbasket, the manufacturing base of the industrial age, and the great metropolis of Chicago.  

Every commission I’ve worked on in both this region and elsewhere has embodied the idealistic pragmatic style I developed while growing up in Wisconsin. A style rooted in the steady pursuit of craft with aims of inspiring, improving, and influencing lives and the surrounding environment. Always mindful of the importance of impact, no matter how small. 
In the Midwest, there remains an inherent love of the land — envisioning it unspoiled, yet understanding the need for development and growth. Much of my career has been devoted to a reconciliation of these disparate demands. Landing somewhere close to a love for the city, with a desire for a weekend home in the country. 

The Midwest’s strength, creativity, and genius will always be the heartbeat of the nation. And no other profession is better positioned to be the ignition for the rebirth of this great region than the architectural community. Because great design solves problems.  

     —  BL



November 7, 2017


Idealistic Pragmatics Lecture  |  Segovia, Spain

On November 7th, Brad Lynch talked in Segovia, Spain on "Idealistic Pragmatics" as part of The Power of Ten — an International lecture series at IE University that includes other lecturers such as Richard Rogers, Deyan Sudjic, Sou Fujimoto, Francine Houben, and Farshid Moussavi. 


June 1, 2017

6th Street D.C.  |  Washington Post

Great to be featured in the Washington Post this morning for our work in D.C. alongside Ditto Residential.

“What we’re seeing is a real appetite for avant-garde and contemporary, modern spaces. We’ve predicted for years that people would start to demand exceptional design, and I think we’ve arrived at that moment.” 

          - Martin Ditto,  President & CEO  |  Ditto Residential

See here for the full article. 


May 23, 2017

Back to Wisconsin 

Brad Lynch is teaching a Design Studio with Aaron Betsky this summer at the School of Architecture at Taliesin titled "Lost Arts in Chicago".


March 16, 2017

B+L's D.C. Condos Sell Out in 3 Days

"All the units at sixth street sold out today with less than three days on the market. All were sold at full price with no concessions. I've never heard of that happening before. I have to say that I think it was because of the design. Thanks for all your team's work on the project.”

          - Martin Ditto,  President & CEO  |  Ditto Residential


September 22,2016

Lecture at Taliesin East 

Brad Lynch will be giving a lecture tonight at Taliesin East at 7:30pm — don't miss it!


September 9, 2016


We’re looking for Architects to join our team here in our West Loop studio! 4+ years of experience and experience working with Revit are preferred.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume, and portfolio to We look forward to hearing from you!


July 11, 2016

Wood House featured on Brick Architecture 

Wood House is featured on Brick Architecture’s new website, which highlights both technical and inspirational material and news regarding brick as a building material. Take a look at the full feature here.