Age: 56
Occupation: Founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects

No living Chicago architect has anything close to the name recognition of Gang. In case you can’t put the buildings to the name, she’s the one behind the honeycomb structure at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk and the topographically spectacular Aqua Tower north of Millennium Park. When people want to know where architecture is headed, they look to what Gang is working on. And they’ll be paying close attention to two enormous projects in progress: the nearly complete wavy blue-glass Vista Tower on the Near East Side and the new $2 billion–plus international terminal at O’Hare. She’s got major projects underway in Arkansas, Memphis, and Amsterdam, to name just a few places, and she just won a Progressive Architecture Award for a science education center in New York.