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John Cordogan
1955 -   Class of 2008  Visual Arts
John Cordogan is the first architect to be inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame.  Born in 1955 and a lifelong resident of the Aurora area currently residing in Sugar Grove, John graduated with highest honors from the University of Illinois in 1977 with a B.S. in Architecture.  He continued his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Versailles, France in 1976, and then Paris in 1978, culminating in a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois in 1981.

A registered architect in nine states, John is a member of the American Institute of Architects  and is licensed for reciprocal registration throughout the U.S. by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

John’s flair for design seems to have been embedded in the family DNA.  His father, Louis, began Cordogan Clark & Associates (CCA) in 1951, four years before John was born.  Enthralled by weekend visits to his father’s office as a child, John used to tell his kindergarten classmates that he planned to be a architect too.  Today he admits, “I probably didn’t even know what that was.”  

After studying his chosen profession at Illinois and abroad, John joined the firm in 1981.  He “cut his teeth” on the renovation of the Old Second National Bank in downtown Aurora, learning a thing or two about the clean lines and natural materials of Midwestern-style Prairie architecture.  “I think I understand how to use a brick,” he said.

Today John heads the firm of Cordogan Clark & Associates. CCA is one of the top 20 largest firms in the Chicagoland area, and is actively involved in the firm’s operations and the design and development of projects that include private and public residences, civic and municipal buildings, schools, parks, fitness facilities, and entertainment and performing arts centers.  One of the company’s most recent  achievements was the Paramount Theatre’s Grand Gallery and renovation of 28 Downer Place for backstage production space and training.

John said most projects take between three and four years from initial idea to completion.  “Some take far longer,” he added.  “The Paramount…It was 2006 when it was done, so that’s 17 years altogether.”  To him, successful design only happens when the client and the architect work together.  The design process is painstaking, from developing the initial idea to overseeing construction to following up on any issues after the building is complete. He cites Aurora University’s new Institute for Collaboration as a good example of this belief in reality.

John’s designs are included in the permanent collections of the Chicago Historical Society and the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Design.  His work has been honored by the American Institute of Architects, the Precast Concrete Institute, and recognized by several state and national associations, as well as by community organizations.  John and his partner, John Clark, and other company associates have received numerous other design awards.  

When asked what his favorite project was, he replied that his designs are like children.  “The buildings and the people that own them feel like family to me,” he said, “and that would be like saying you like one sister more than a brother.”

John received the Community Beautification Award from his hometown, Aurora.  In a letter endorsing John Cordogan’s nomination, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner noted, “No other architect in the city’s history has done more for the beautification of Aurora through construction, which has subsequently improved the overall quality of life for all residents.”  
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From the well-lighted travelers’ oases along the Illinois Tollway System and the unique pedestrian bridges across Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to a new 7-million-square-foot urban transportation center for Wuxi City, China, CCA’s diverse portfolio ranges from the practical to the spectacular.  Their structures stand not only for function, but also as pieces of art – in Aurora, Chicago, elsewhere in Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and now China. The 80-meter high TimeGate monument designed for construction in Beijing, China, was a hallmark for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Among the regional architecture winning multiple national awards is:  
Greenman Elementary and Herget Middle Schools, Aurora;  Henry Horner Homes, Chicago Housing Authority; and the Fox Valley Park District’s Vaughan Athletic Center.

The Paramount expansion project not only furnished badly needed space but also added artistic excitement to the expansion of the former 1930s movie palace.  Other performing arts venues benefiting from the firm’s collective expertise and John’s oversight include Aurora University’s Perry Theatre and Crimi Auditorium, Marmion Academy, Harper Library at the University of Chicago, the Alma College Heritage Center in Michgan, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

John and his talented professionals also have provided pro bono design services for several area not-for-profit institutions serving the Fox Valley.  They are community partners for the development of the SciTech Children’s Museum in downtown Aurora.  In his spare time, John has enjoyed playing trumpet with the Waubonsee Jazz Band.

See more of John Cordogan’s work at: www.cordoganclark.com
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