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Meet Ivan Kutlesa of Kutlesa and Hernandez Architects

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ivan Kutlesa.

Ivan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It was my 2nd year of architectural study at the University of Illinois at Chicago, when I first met Manual (Manny) Hernandez in 1988.

Collaborating on University projects, we became best friends and gained a mutual respect and admiration for each other’s talents. Being of Croatian decent, I appreciated Manny’s Mexican heritage, as this also contributed to how we looked at the world through more than one lens, which would prove fruitful in our future endeavors. At UIC, Manny excelled in architectural design studios and was awarded two faculty citations for excellence in design. Our junior year at UIC, we had the opportunity of a lifetime….to study architecture in Versailles, France at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts. That unforgettable year of walking amongst the works of architectural giants, who left their permanent mark on history, propelled our passion for architecture even further into the stratosphere. We were excited and inspired to take steps onward…. and find our own way.

After graduating from UIC, our respective careers launched us onto separate paths of distinction and accomplishment, as leaders, achieving success at high levels in prestigious architectural firms.

In the year 2001, not long after becoming a Licensed Architect, I ventured out on my own and established IK + Associates. Soon after, I sought out my university colleague and friend Manny, whose creativity and skill in design was second to none. Our separately acquired skills now came together and complimented one another in our new firm of Kutlesa/Hernandez Architects, Inc.

Today, Kutlesa/Hernandez Architects has grown and developed into a well-respected and diverse practice. Our hard work, commitment and personal attention to every aspect of a project has attracted a large client base. We operate from a strong combined design sensibility that holds at its core, the client’s vision. From non-profits to private sector corporate clients, our design solutions are driven by the needs and desires of each client, irrespective of the size of their budgets. Civic service and faith based organizations are the cornerstones of any society and we have always prided ourselves, with our pro-bono contributions, to advancing those ideals in our communities.

We provide the full spectrum of services related to architecture, interiors, engineering and sustainable design and are uniquely experienced to be integral to our client’s project processes and critical to their success. We practice architecture locally, nationally and internationally, and have created unique and memorable iconic structures such as– Beyond The Ivy: Chicago Cubs Wrigleyfield Rooftops– as featured in the book City by Design- An Architectural Perspective of Chicago. Our projects were also highlighted in additional publications including: Construct Works, Green Building + Design, Illinois Real Estate Journal, Modern Steel Construction, and Projects In Focus.

As a licensed Architect of 17 years, and President of Kutlesa/Hernandez Architects Inc, I am thankful to those who paved the way for my generation…. for those of us looking to leave our own mark. As a National Member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, with an impressive commercial and residential architectural portfolio, I look back on how we started out, with pride and ambition, and look forward……….in the same way.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As expected, building one’s own firm and brand does not come without its challenges. In particular, the economic downturn of 2008-2009 greatly impacted the construction and development industry. As a result, new and exciting projects were placed on hold…. and were difficult to realize. However, we weathered that storm via strategic planning and skill, ultimately leading us to where we are today.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kutlesa and Hernandez Architects – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We have diverse backgrounds as Architects and Designers as well as individuals. This uniquely positions us with great insight into the global nature of the increasingly interconnected culture of nations, businesses, communities and economies and the direct impact on the built environment.

As evidenced in our portfolio of projects in the types of work we have successfully completed in the last 16 years, KH Architects visionary approach to its profession has lead the way in the progress of Architecture.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our vision for the future includes further contributing to the beautification of our Great City of Chicago, visited by a record breaking 54.1 million tourists in 2016 according to city officials. The architecture is world class and KH Architects plans to continue expanding our portfolio downtown, and into the west loop. Due to our international, and cultural ties, fused with our appreciation for diverse landscapes, we plan to explore additional developments and opportunities on the global stage as well.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 134 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2145, Chicago, IL 60602
  • Website:
  • Phone: (312) 315-1746
  • Email:

Image Credit:
Tony Soluri Photography

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