Celebrating the dedication of our team members

At a recent luncheon, DLA Architects’ Principals celebrated our team members. We commemorated the last 12 months of service milestones, recognizing those who’ve been with us for 5 to a remarkable 35 years. Their contributions have enriched our office culture and raised our client service standards. We recognized their unique contributions and their personal growth. Each of them plays an essential role in upholding DLA Architects’ vision.

Mae Balonkita celebrated her 5-year anniversary

When it comes to space planning and the selection of the right furniture to meet the client’s needs, Mae’s expertise is invaluable! She has a skillful eye for integrating the right furniture into our architectural designs. This talent has significantly enhanced the effectiveness and aesthetics of these spaces.

Over the years, her impact has spanned diverse projects, including the transformation of learning environments at Lake Zurich CUSD 95, the thoughtful integration of furnishings that respect both the heritage and functionality at The Joseph Sears School, and the practical yet visually stimulating selections for the Harlem High School CTE Addition, among others. We look forward to her continued contribution to creating spaces that inspire.

Aldina Castro celebrated her 5-year anniversary

Aldina, a silent powerhouse at DLA Architects, exemplifies dependability. Her quiet demeanor belies a strong commitment to delivering top-notch work consistently. Her friendly demeanor, coupled with a great sense of humor, aligns perfectly with our culture of fun-loving individuals creating innovative spaces.

On her way to becoming a Job Captain, Aldina is now one of our go-to experts for 10-Year Health/Life Safety surveys and reports. This deep knowledge of the school code make her a great resource for any project team she’s involved with. Her involvement in projects like the Elm Middle School Addition and the Kankakee High School Fieldhouse showcases her wide-ranging expertise and adaptability.

Aldina’s unique blend of talent, commitment, and collaborative spirit echo our core values – being future-thinking, collaborative, and enjoying what we do.

Heather Juhl celebrated her 5-year anniversary

Since her early days leading the project at Benson Primary School, Heather’s visionary leadership and tenacious pursuit of excellence across multiple projects have not only raised our design standards but also earned industry accolades like those garnered for First Steps Preschool/Early Learning Center. She is an expert at incorporating wellness and environmental sustainability into designs. Heather has been a driving force at DLA Architects, ensuring each project—from educational facilities like Washington Elementary School, to state-of-the-art technical centers like the Elgin Community College Manufacturing Center—resonates with our commitment to our clients. Recognizing her dedication to smart, inclusive design, it’s clear that Heather’s extraordinary journey is propelled by a passion to deliver impeccable results, time and again.

Ryan Kelley celebrated his 5-year anniversary

Ryan knows how to navigate complex regulatory landscapes. When his projects straddle multiple jurisdictions he handles it with aplomb; he shows not just competence, but also a deep commitment to making the result a success. This skill is evident in projects at Riverside School District 96, including the Ames Elementary Addition. He also led the substantial work on their historically significant buildings Central and Blythe Park Elementary Schools, which is no small task. Renovations to century-old structures are always complex, but Ryan knows what to look for and how to handle the issues that inevitably arise.

Ryan’s role in developing the Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School Science Addition, a cutting-edge Net Zero Building, and the Culinary and Fashion Interior Renovations showcases his commitment to sustainability and modernization. His contributions at Valley View Public School District 365U’s Early Childhood Centers and Bloomingdale Public Library’s Froio Memorial Garden demonstrate his dedication to thriving public spaces.

Jae Yoo celebrated his 5-year anniversary

As a vital part of the DLA Architects family for half a decade, Jae Yoo has honed his skills in K-12 design, where his meticulous approach and exceptional organizational skills lend themselves well to our project delivery process. Jae’s expertise shines through in his ability to compile detailed Construction Documents, showcasing his attention to detail.

Jae’s contributions have been vital to the successful execution of numerous projects. Notable examples include multiple Additions & Remodeling at Kankakee School District 111 and the Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 Transition Building. These projects underscore his dedication to excellence and his unwavering commitment to our core values of precision and client satisfaction. His work reflects the essence of what we strive for at DLA – excellence, precision, and client satisfaction.

Matthew Ryan Lowe celebrated his 20-year anniversary

Matt has always been known for his creativity and curiosity. It was his curiosity and passion for design that provoked our then-Director of Design the late Kimio Nagasawa to become his mentor. Over the decades, Matt honed his architectural design expertise on a variety of projects. Today Matt is not only Director of Design but also an Associate Principal, underscoring his creativity, dedication, and leadership.

Matt is especially known for his “Design Visioning Sessions;” he champions a collaborative, holistic planning approach, yielding enriched, consensus-driven designs. He has led some of the firm’s most innovative recent projects such as the joyful Washington Elementary School, the nurturing Joseph Sears School, and the Net Zero Homewood-Flossmoor High School Science Addition.

Matt’s visionary approach not only fosters beautiful, functional spaces but also bolsters community and educational excellence, emblematic of DLA’s commitment to impactful, collaborative design.

Tracy Biederstadt celebrated her 25-year anniversary

One of Tracy’s earliest roles here at DLA was on the project team for an addition and remodeling at School District U-46’s Washington Elementary School back in 1999. When it came to updating the beloved community landmark 1893 building, her creative problem-solving skills were invaluable. Since then, Tracy has continuously set a high benchmark, contributing significantly to the success of over 500 projects. Her career has come full-circle as she returns to the School District U-46 Team for a new middle school project.

Tracy is known for her attention to detail and organizational skills. This is why over the years she’s helped develop many of the processes that shape a DLA assessment study.

Now an Associate Principal at DLA, Tracy’s leadership has been crucial in managing high-profile projects, including notable work with the Harlem School District 122 and Kenilworth School District 38.

Her insights, experience, and leadership have enriched our collective endeavor to deliver outstanding educational environments.

Hilarion Amaro celebrated his 25-year anniversary

Over the years, Hilarion has played an important role in a multitude of projects, transforming buildings that communities cherish. Some of his recent project highlights include improvements for Elmwood Park CUSD 401, Community Consolidated School District 146, and Riverside Brookfield High School District 208, among others. Each project on which he plays a role, from the new high schools for Lincoln-Way High School District 210 to the New Parish Center for Visitation Catholic Church, reflects a deep understanding of functional design and community needs.

Hilarion’s portfolio is characterized by innovative solutions and thoughtful design. His expertise and leadership have elevated the quality of educational and community spaces. He also serves as a great mentor, emphasizing the importance of creativity, precision, and client-focused solutions. His contributions have been instrumental in our firm’s growth and reputation for excellence.

Sandy Warren celebrated her 35-year anniversary

Sandy’s DLA journey began in 1988 during a time of growth for what was then Dahlquist and Lutzow Architects. Starting as a receptionist back when we were a 7-person team, Sandy embodies adaptability and dedication. She wears many hats, with roles in Human Resources (HR), accounting, and business management.

Everyone at the firm knows Sandy, in fact, since she handles onboarding new employees she is our introduction to the team. She is the welcoming voice of DLA.

Sandy’s proficiency extends into business and financial management, too. Her involvement in insurance and contract management ensures our operational integrity and strong client relationships.

Throughout DLA’s evolution, Sandy has been a steadfast presence, embracing new challenges with grace. Sandy’s influence touches every aspect of our operations, elevating our professionalism and service excellence. Her impact on our firm’s history and future is undeniable.

Each of these talented individuals was recognized for their service to DLA. Those celebrating a 5-year anniversary received a Yeti tumbler, a glass cube for the 10-year, and a clock for the 15-year anniversary. To recognize 20 years, Matthew Lowe was offered a choice of 1 week of extra PTO, a paid weekend trip valued at or below $1,500, an electronic device valued at or below $1,500, or a check for $1,000. To celebrate 25-years, Tracy Biederstadt and Hilarion Amaro were each presented with a check for $2,500. In recognition of Sandy Warren’s 35-year anniversary she received a check for $3,500. These gifts are a symbol that reflects to each employee that they have accomplished something important during their time here with DLA.