Business is booming for architect-engineer CannonDesign's Midwest operations, its Chicago and St. Louis offices having together logged a 32% increase in revenues in 2014. Its current spate of projects is no less impressive, from City Colleges of Chicago's $251-million Malcolm X College School of Helath to the $100-million St. Louis College of Pharmacy to a $142-million treatment facility for Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa.

The 500,000-sq-ft Malcolm X project marks a sea change for City Colleges of Chicago's community college system, which is seeking a more-hands on approach to select curricula, health care included. Accordingly, the facility will house simulated hospital spaces and patient rooms, with room dimensions, beds, headboards and finishes matching those of nearby health-care operators, including Rush University Medical Center and John Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. Of note is that CannonDesign's newly formed City Design Group, based in Chicago, collaborated with City Colleges of Chicago to determine local industries that most required a skilled workforce.

The biggest need was found in health care – every aspect of it,” Tim Swanson, the firm's associate vice president of urban strategy, told local media last July. “We looked at the entire pedagogy of the school and began to understand how to transform it from an unfocused two-year program to an incredibly focused program. Students have to work and mix together at the new building. They’ll be going out into the world of health care equipped for a cooperative environment.”

In addition to addressing urban design issues, CannonDesign's Midwest operations continue to consolidate their positions as leading practitioners of sustainable design. Rather than telling, they're showing. The firm's Chicago office achieved LEED platinum status and was named the nation's Top LEED Project of 2013 by the U.S. Green Building Council. It also was the only of USGBC's Top 10 LEED Projects sited in the Midwest. Cannon's St. Louis office recently achieved LEED Gold status.

For its continued growth and overall excellence in design, ENR Midwest has named CannonDesign the region's Design Firm of the Year. The firm will be profiled in the May 25 edition of ENR Midwest, which also will feature a listing of the region's largest design firms.