Melissa Neel comes to the field of architecture with a background in the fine and performing arts. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College in 1988 with a focus in both fields, Melissa earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1994. Her early work has garnered design awards from the Environmental Design Research Association, the National Organization for Women, the Pratt Institute, and the Graham Foundation.
Melissa has completed numerous performing arts facilities, as well as residential, commercial, and institutional projects, many of which have involved the adaptive reuse of existing and historic buildings; all are the product of fruitful collaboration with client, consultant, and construction teams, and each reveals a dedication to artistry and craft. She believes that great space comes of a powerful narrative. Her work demonstrates that sensitivity to client, team, site, and constraint, coupled with the ability to create a resonant programmatic and design narrative, can result in the most engaging and uplifting architecture and process.
Notable projects include the home for Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago’s historic Watertower Waterworks, which received the USITT Award of Merit, the AIA Chicago Design Excellence Award, and the Chicago Building Congress Award. Other work with Wheeler Kearns Architects and Morris A|P on several award-winning performing arts projects includes the rehabilitation of a prewar Chicago Public Library building for the Old Town School of Folk Music, a popular music venue for artists from across the globe. With Polshek Partnership Architects, projects include renovations to the Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center, the Biltmore Theatre, and The Public Theater. Melissa’s recent focus has been on institutional and residential projects in collaboration with Leslie Gill Architect in New York and as a founding partner of Working Group 1, with clients in New York, Illinois, and California.
Melissa was raised in the United States, Europe, and Japan, and calls New York City home. She is a member of the association board in her neighborhood in Brooklyn.
SELECT THEATRE PROJECTS
Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago, Illinois
Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center, New York, New York
The Public Theater, New York, New York
Northlight Theatre, Skokie, Illinois
Briar Street Theatre, Chicago, Illinois
Simpkins Concert Hall WIU, Macomb, Illinois
Beverly Arts Center Theater, Beverly, Illinois
Chicago Center for the Performing Arts, Chicago, Illinois
Biltmore Theatre Renovation Study, New York, New York
Steppenwolf Theatre Expansion Study, Chicago, Illinois
Merkin Concert Hall Facility Study, New York, New York
SELECT INSTITUTIONAL PROJECTS:
The Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, Illinois
Germantown Friends School Study, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Land Lab, Luling Elementary School, Luling Louisiana
Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, New York
Francis Parker School Study, Chicago, Illinois
Trinity Arts, Palos Heights, Illinois
SELECT RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS:
Los Angeles Residence, California
Chelsea Townhouse, New York, New York
Manhattan Townhouse, New York, New York
TriBeCa Loft, New York, New York
Sedona Residence, Sedona, Arizona