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January 6, 2010 
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The Architect of Forecast

Our headline is the nickname Real Estate Communications Group's Michael Millar. He's spent the last 15 years working on Chicago's biggest real estate forecast conference, which now attracts as many as 1,400 people, and returns on Jan 19.
Real Estate Conference Group's Michael Millar

Michael started the event for clients as marketing manager for Grubb & Ellis in '95; it initially attracted about 300. The conference doubled by '02, when he moved to RECG and companies could sponsor the event in order to save money on throwing their own soirees. In its 15 years, the event has been held at five downtown hotels and included more than 350 speakers.

Real Estate Conference Group's Michael Millar

This year, the conference moves to the Marriott on Michigan Ave, which recently renovated its lobby and ballrooms to host more conferences. Michael has seen a lot of changes in the conference, from adding a building security panel after 9/11 to working on documentaries. New features in this year: a property management panel—a joint effort with IREM, and a commercial auctions panel.

Gensler's Brian Vitale and wife Kristen

Gensler's Brian Vitale designs it all. Here with his wife Kristen at the AIA's holiday party last month at the Wit Hotel, Brian was named Young Architect of the Year for projects as small as a 5k-SF bank branch in Indiana to Wisconsin's largest solar field on the Johnson Controls campus. He submitted a portfolio of 15 works, divided into categories of built, prospective, and conceptual projects.

Johnson Controls

He tells us the Johnson Controls project is one of his faves, and says it's the most sustainable campus in the world. The solar field powers 25% of the campus, and the windows are designed to block out UV rays, while still allowing natural light to most offices. The project included three renovations and two new buildings, connected by indoor hallways—especially important in Wisconsin winters.

In the city, Brian worked on the new Erickson Institute at 111 W. Illinois, a graduate school focusing on early childhood education. He also worked on Barneys of New York's flagship store in Milwaukee and a small bank in Indiana where green architecture helped bring new customers. Brian tells us he decided to be an architect in grade school. So did we . . . but he actually did it.

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