We are SCB

Christine Carlyle, AIA, AICP

Principal and Director of Planning | 20 years at SCB

Christine directs SCB’s planning studio and urban design practice.  She brings a collaborative leadership style, creative design approach, and passion for improving the quality of life for all communities to a wide range of local, national, and international projects.

What changes do you hope to see in the AEC industry with regard to inclusivity and gender equality moving forward?

Inclusivity and gender equality starts with providing real and open pathways to create opportunities for all. Not everybody is going to succeed, but there needs to be an open pathway of opportunity.

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

Be curious, true to yourself, do what you love and are good at.

What initially attracted you to study design or pursue a career in design?

As a teenager I attended the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to study sculpture which totally scared my dad. He was an engineer and worried that I wouldn’t be able to support myself as an artist –he thought with sculpture that I had an aptitude for architecture and recommended that I contact the AIA for a list of accredited colleges. I visited, applied, and attended Carnegie Mellon University’s architecture program and loved it.

As a woman, what unique perspectives do you bring to the design industry?

As a woman in the male dominated fields of architecture and planning, I see the world changing to accept broader viewpoints on what constitutes quality design and who can be perceived as a leader in design. In planning and urban design, I strive towards a holistic approach to balance the myriad of community needs and aspirations in our work, and I seek to synthesize the many voices that will contribute to making a project a success and authentic to the community.

How did you end up at SCB?

My career journey started in my hometown of Boston, where I worked for ten years.  After earning my master’s degree from Harvard, I moved to Texas to work for the City of Dallas Department of Planning and Development to create an urban design team in the 90’s, while they were building their DART system and much of our work focused on downtown redevelopment issues. In 2002, I joined SCB in Chicago and was asked to start the firm’s planning practice.  I’ve been here ever since.

How would you describe your style of leadership?

Collaborative and team oriented. To do great work we need everybody contributing their talent and energy to drive a project and design forward.

What do you enjoy most about your job as Director of Planning?

Every day is different. In planning and urban design, we work across a broad spectrum of project types and sizes, and for a multitude of clients from government agencies, institutions, and developers. I think that one of the best parts of my job is working with all the various communities that our projects serve. Different priorities, challenges, voices, visions, economies, histories, cultures – no two are alike. Engaging with people and listening to their passion for the possibilities and opportunities for the future of their community never gets old; it’s inspiring and excites me and my colleagues in the planning studio every time!