Commencement Speaker

Jeanne Gang Named 2024 Commencement Speaker

Jeanne Gang's headshot
Los Angeles and San Francisco Advertising Portrait Photographer Marc Olivier Le Blanc, Advertising, Editorial and Lifestyle.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Internationally recognized architect and Illinois alumna Jeanne Gang will serve as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s commencement speaker on Saturday, May 11, at 9:30 a.m. in Memorial Stadium. Gang graduated from Illinois with a degree in architecture in 1986.

Gang is the founding partner of Studio Gang, an architecture and urban design practice with offices in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Paris. She is known for her approach to design that prioritizes connections between people, their communities and the environment.

Her award-winning work includes two towers that have redefined Chicago’s skyline: the 101-story St. Regis Chicago, now the city’s third-tallest building, and the 82-story Aqua Tower. Other completed work in Chicago includes the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and two boathouses along the Chicago River. She also is designing a new global terminal for O’Hare International Airport.

“Jeanne Gang has redrawn the skylines of the most important cities in the world. She’s redefined what her entire discipline believed to be possible with design and structure,” said Chancellor Robert Jones. “When you set out to find a commencement speaker who can stand on that stage and honestly inspire our graduates to imagine their futures on a grand scale, your first call has to be Jeanne Gang.”

She also recently completed the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, which The Wall Street Journal named among the Best Architecture of 2023. Her other work includes the reimagined Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock and the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

A professor in practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Gang received the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2011 and was named one of TIME magazine’s most influential people in 2019. Additional accolades include the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture, the Charlotte Perriand Award, the ULI Visionary Prize and Architectural Review’s Architect of the Year.

She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017 and was named an International Fellow by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2018. She also is an accomplished author. Her upcoming book “The Art of Architectural Grafting” will be released this spring.

The speeches from previous Commencement speakers can be found in the Past Speakers archive.