• Rafael Alvarez, partner at Alvarez + Brock Design, New York. Founded in 2006, this multi-dimensional studio with an emphasis on restaurant, hotel and product design is a small atelier with vast experience. Alvarez and business partner Brannen Brock met while servings as senior designers at the renowned Tihany Design. Born in the Dominican Republic, Alvarez brings more than 17 years experience, specializing in hospitality design. His designs can be seen in hotels and restaurants worldwide including Le Cirque, Scampo Restaurant, the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City and the Mirage in Las Vegas.
  • Ralph Bicknese, principal and co-founder, Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects, St. Louis. Bicknese is a nationally recognized proponent and practitioner of sustainable design. Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects provides architectural, planning and consulting services throughout the United States (and internationally in Central America) that are centered on green building solutions to enhance and enrich life. This commitment has been demonstrated most recently on approximately 25 projects seeking certification under the US Green Building Council’s LEED® green building rating system and other green buildings. Notable projects include Washington University’s Living Learning Center, which is on track to be the first building in the world certified to the stringent Living Building Challenge, after it completes its 1-year performance period to demonstrate that it has achieved zero net energy, zero net water and zero net carbon.
  • Jennifer Nemec, founder and principal of Ideation Studio, Chicago. Ideation Studio is a multi-disciplinary design firm specializing in branded environment design. With more than 20 years of experience in retail store prototype design, exterior architectural design, graphic design and product design/development, Nemec has been involved in design projects for such highly regarded companies as Reebok, Lexus, Acura, Toyota, Sears, McDonalds, Warner Bros., and Universal Studios. Ideation Studio recently designed the Post Office of the Future for the US Post Office, Oprah Winfrey’s Merchandise Store and the Chicago Lighthouse store.
  • Jim Poteet, principal of Poteet Architects, San Antonio, Texas. Established in 1998, Poteet Architects has been widely recognized for its work transforming San Antonio’s downtown through the thoughtful rehabilitation of the city’s rich existing building stock. At the same time, the office has become known for modern interior design, especially spaces devoted to the display and appreciation of contemporary art. The work has been published in leading national design publications and had received national and regional design awards for its rigor and freshness. Current projects include a corporate headquarters in a repurposed auto dealership, a development of LEED eligible houses in a historic district and a contemporary art gallery for the Pace Foundation.