Established in Chicago in 1989, Brininstool + Lynch has been bringing rigor, vision, and elegance to diverse projects since its founding. The work is firmly rooted in the proud architectural legacy of Chicago; it unabashedly celebrates its kinship with the rigorous modernism of Mies van der Rohe, as well as its sympathy for Frank Lloyd Wright's marriage of building and landscape. And, in the pragmatic Chicago tradition, Brininstool + Lynch is a firm whose work is as much driven by process as it is by product. The result is architecture that is as enduring and timeless as it is graceful and powerful.
Brininstool + Lynch’s handsome, restrained collection of buildings has won the admiration of both critics and peers, and has been described as pointing the way toward a new "Chicago School" – which is to say architecture that is an artful and seemingly effortless amalgamation of mercantilism, technology, and aesthetics whose logic was irrefutable. Brininstool + Lynch operates within this context. Its buildings are flexible, affordable, modest, elegant, and rational.
Logic does not preclude sensuality or romance, feelings conjured by Brininstool + Lynch primarily through its mastery of materials and detail. It is a classic modernist trope – the machine-made and the natural juxtaposed and rendered to great effect. In the firm’s projects, the material palette is kept to a minimum in order to accentuate the inherent visual qualities of each as they intersect. Always evident – no matter the project type – is the care paid to finishes and the composition of the spaces, particularly a fascination with joinery and the play between dark and light, transparent and opaque, soft and hard.
In a period when theatrics threaten to overwhelm substance in architecture, the work of Brininstool + Lynch offers a quieter, considered alternative. The ideas trace a clear, logical path, and mature with each project. The work contains the genetic material of Chicago's great tradition, and the seeds of its future.
Brininstool + Lynch was founded on the premise that architecture is as much about constructability as it is about design. The firm believes that the very best ideas are useless unless they can be manifest in built form. All of Brininstool + Lynch’s earliest projects were, in fact, designed and built by the firm – allowing for a practical ability to achieve successful building projects even as the scale of the firm’s projects has grown.
On average, the staff has been with the firm for more than ten years; in a studio environment, that sense of intimacy has a powerful impact on the product being produced. The cumulative shared expertise and wealth of knowledge allow for the development of big ideas, with the experience to know – almost instantly - if a design will be affordable, constructible and functional, and, most importantly, if it will sustain its relevance over time.
Throughout Brininstool + Lynch’s evolution, the range of projects has become larger and more diverse, but the commitment to developing a functional approach to design remains steadfast. As a matter of principle and practicality, the integration of sustainable building practices into projects since the firm’s inception has been key. With the profound awareness that the planet’s natural resources and the firm’s client’s financial resources are precious, it is more important than ever to pursue a sustainable approach to design. New technologies are constantly being investigated as are better ways to use existing ones. Beyond labels, checklists and trends, Brininstool + Lynch believes in creating an architecture that is both of our time and timeless – in terms of both design and materials. The firm is focused on creating work that has long-term relevance, that is easy to maintain, that uses less energy, that produces less waste and carbon emissions, and that exemplifies environmental stewardship.
Since its founding, Brininstool + Lynch has completed more than two hundred fifty building projects, representing more than fifteen million square feet of built work in excess of $4 billion of construction value. Clients have included: Art Institute of Chicago, Barack Obama Foundation, Chicago Architecture Foundation, General Services Administration, Racine Art Museum, Syracuse University, University of Chicago, Basecamp, Equity Commonwealth, Sterling Partners, Tiny Lounge, United Airlines, VSA Partners, Whole Foods, CMK Companies, Ditto Residential, Marquette Companies, Onni Group, Related, and Waterton.
Brininstool + Lynch is the recipient of over fifty major design awards, including twenty-seven Design Excellence Awards from the American Institute of Architects, three American Architecture Awards, and has been honored as an Emerging Voice in architecture by the Architectural League of New York. The firm's work is regularly featured in international design publications and has been the subject of two monographs: Building on Modernism (Edizioni Press, 2002), and Brininstool + Lynch (Casas Internacional, 2000).