Firm Overview

Downey Szafarz Architects, Inc. is a full-service architecture design and construction firm rooted in the North Shore community of Lake Forest. The firm commenced operations in 1972 as James March Goldberg Architects, Inc., a one-person architectural office. Today, the office has a staff of 8 and is one of the most versatile architectural firms in the Chicago area.

Versatility is one of the character traits of Downey Szafarz Architects (DSA) and Downey Szafarz Construction (DSC). The firm designs both residential and commercial projects, including new construction, remodelings and additions. Residential projects vary in scope and size, from additions to new homes ranging in size from 2,000 to 30,000 finished square feet.

Renovation of historic structures has always been an important part of the DSA tradition. Multiple projects have included renovation to historic homes throughout the North Shore. The firm received the prestigious Preservation Award for a home in Highland Park, as well as designed additions to a Jens Jensen home in Highland Park and a David Adler coach house in Lake Forest.

Downey Szafarz Construction, Inc. (an affiliate of DS Architects, Inc.), which builds many of our architectural projects, enables our clients to receive a fully integrated design/build service. During the architect-led design/build process, the architect becomes the project manager during construction, where cost and time savings are achieved through continuity and efficiency. Current projects range from modest remodeling projects to estate renovations and custom homes.

Mark J. Downey, AIA, NCARB, received his Bachelor of Architecture, University of Arkansas 1982, has been with the firm since 1984 and is now the President. David W. Szafarz, AIA, received his Bachelor of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago 1985, is the Principal. The staff also consists of two project architects, three architects, and one administrative member. All architects are graduates of accredited architectural schools, and most are licensed. The combined professional experience of the senior staff members exceeds 100 years of practice.

The Computer Aided Drafting (CADD) system utilized by DSA is used in all aspects of the design and drafting process, from early 3-dimensional studies to detailed technical drawing. This system is fully integrated with the design staff, and is an industry standard utilized by civil, structural, and mechanical engineers and other consultants.

The DSA staff undergoes continuous training and education within the architectural office. All staff is in the field during various phases of construction to experience the “real-life situations” of construction. With the knowledge of construction cost, and discipline of practice, the firm has had continued success designing projects in conformance with budget requirements. Additionally, our staff is trained in listening to and understanding the needs of clients. The firm does not design projects which echo the personal beliefs of the designers, but instead respects the physical and emotional needs of the individual client.