Shafer received a Master of Architecture ‘with Distinction’ from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (1982-85). Selected works are published in the Design Archives, Harvard University (1982-85). At graduation Shafer received the Appleton Traveling Fellowship for Academic Excellence (1985) and shortly thereafter was named a faculty instructor for Harvard’s Career Discovery Summer Program (1985). Previously, Shafer graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Major in Architecture (1976-80). At Washington University Shafer was both a Luce Scholar and Rhodes Scholar finalist (1980), a finalist for the School of Architecture’s Widman Prize for outstanding excellence (1980), and has selected works published in the Bulletin of Student Works, Washington University (1980).


Shafer has worked in numerous high-profile firms during his career. He was a Senior Associate / Studio Head while at Lohan Associates in Chicago, IL (1989-91) responsible for the design of several office towers under the guidance of Mr. Dirk Lohan, Principal-in-charge-of-design; the Dain Bosworth Tower in Minneapolis (built), and the Harris Bank Tower in Chicago (unbuilt). While at Kohn Pedersen Fox PC in New York City, NY (1986-89) he worked directly with Mr. William Pedersen, Principal-in-charge-of-design as a Senior Designer responsible for the design and development of two office towers – The Rizzoli Tower on 5th Avenue in New York City (built) and One Fountain Place in Cincinnati, OH (unbuilt). He worked in the offices of Silvetti + Machado in Boston, MA (1983) and Fred Koetter & Associates in Boston, MA (1983) in which he was part of the team who took first place in the Beacon Corporation Crescent Building Competition. Shafer worked on the United Airlines Terminal project while in the office of Murphy / Jahn, Chicago, IL (1983 + 1984) and worked on high-end residential projects while at Krueck + Olsen Architects, Chicago, IL (1985). Shafer founded Shafer Architects PC (1991-2001) and ten years later established Grunsfeld Shafer Architects LLC (2001-2012) with the late Ernest A. Grunsfeld III, FAIA.

academic experience

Shafer has been, and continues to be, involved with academic pursuits within the profession including mentoring for the Intern Development Program, volunteering as a Thesis Advisor (1990) and Studio Professor for an Advanced Design Studio (1992-94) at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and as a visiting critic at Harvard University, The University of Chicago – Circle Campus, The University of Wisconsin, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

civic experience

Shafer is active and participates in civic minded activities, recently completing a tenure on the Executive Board and the Board of Trustees at the North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, IL where he also served as the Chairman of the Student Experience Committee, served as a committee member on the Strategic Planning Committee, Global Initiative Committee, Buildings & Grounds Committee and assumed the lead role on the Diller Street Theater Task Force charged with developing a campus Master Plan and a design / program for the Diller Street Theater / Auditorium Project. Shafer has been an invited featured artist at Highland Park High School’s ‘Focus on the Arts’ Program where he explained both the path to becoming an architect as well as the process of designing and constructing a project. Shafer has participated in Middle School programs such as Highland Park’s Elm Place Middle School 8th grade Annual Career Fair, and has participated in the City of Chicago’s UMOJA’s “Training-to-Transition” career day giving mock interviews to high school juniors and seniors at The Manley School.


Shafer is an active member of the American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter (1989-present) and was the Chairman of the Young Architects Committee (1990-92). He is a member of Lake Shore Country Club, Glencoe, IL (1988-present) where he served on the Board of Governors (2001-2003), was Chairman of the Property Committee (2001-2003), was a member of the Ad Hoc Golf Committee (2000-2003), the Long Range Planning Committee (1999-2001), Chairman of the East Side Feasibility Committee (1996), Chairman of the Architectural Committee (1995), and was a Co-Chair for The Centennial Project (2001-2003), the 100th anniversary Master Planning effort for the complete overhaul and redevelopment of the historically significant country club designed by Howard van Doren Shaw. On numerous occasions Shafer has been a juror for the Highland Park Preservation Awards, has been a past commissioner on both the Design Review Board (2010-2011) and the Highland Park Historic Preservation Commission (2000-2001), has served on the Highland Park Cultural Arts Commission (2000-2001) and was instrumental in the restorative development of The American Legion Hall building for the Suburban Fine Arts in Highland Park, IL. Shafer is currently working with Zurich Esposito, Executive Vice President of the Chicago Chapter AIA to establish a local Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) for the Chicagoland area. Shafer continues to fund and promote his firm’s ‘Salon Series’, a small gathering of invited guests and featured speaker to engage in a casual but intellectual discourse relating specifically to the arts and architecture professions. Shafer has been a member of The Harvard Club (1989-1992), The Chicago Architectural Club and The University Club of Chicago (1989-1991).

Academic Alumni Services

Shafer is currently active with his alma mater (Washington University in Saint Louis) serving as a committee member on the Regional Cabinet and Regional Campaign Committee (2014-present), a member of the Alumni and Parents Admissions Program (1995-present) and participates in Alumni Sharing Knowledge Panels.


In his free time, Shafer and his firm gives back. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans, Shafer’s firm along with a dozen seniors from the North Shore Country Day School volunteered in Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish as part of the on-going St. Bernard Project. Founded by Liz McCartney, who was CNN’s Hero of the Year recipient in 2008, the St. Bernard Project provides low-to moderate-income families in the parish with rebuilding and community wellness programs. The Rebuilding Program utilizes volunteer labor and donated building supplies to rehabilitate homes for families that would otherwise be unable to restart their lives. The Rebuilding Program works on over thirty houses at a time and has rebuilt 228 homes to date. Additionally, Shafer who is a competitive cyclist uses his bike as a platform to raise money and awareness for various charities including the annual 109 mile El Tour de Tucson bike race in Tucson, AZ for Tu Nidito (, a grief and counseling center for terminally ill children or those affected by death of a loved one. Recently, Shafer was the top fundraiser contributing $15,000. Shafer has also participated in the QualCom Million Dollar Challenge, a 6 day 625 mile bike ride from Los Angeles to San Diego, raising awareness and money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation ( and their Project Rebound and Wounded Warriors programs. For this event Shafer raised $10,000. Shafer also participates in the annual Cowalunga ( ride from North Chicago to Lake Geneva, WI and back, a 130+ one-day ride to raise money and awareness for those afflicted with respiratory disease.