Gary Olsen

GLO Head Shot


Principal-in-Charge/Project Manager                                    

Principal architect of Olsen and Associates Architects.  His career spans over 40 years of service to the profession, and he has been recognized locally for his outstanding contributions to community organizations as well as internationally for his humanitarian work with Rotary International.

Over a thirty year career, Mr. Olsen has managed all phases of the architectural process including master planning, building programming and facility design, construction document preparation, project bidding, and administration and construction phase representation for over 1,500 clients. Mr. Olsen is the guiding force in the design of all projects the firm undertakes and is responsible for the overall performance of the company’s practice of architecture. In addition to libraries and religious facilities, the majority of his completed projects have been public buildings for commercial enterprise, education, entertainment, and administration of governmental services.

Gary Olsen is nationally recognized as an authority on the conservation and preservation of historic architecture. His projects have included buildings set in modest surrounding and others in highly visible public settings.  The designs for these projects have resulted in a good economic value for his clients.  His energy conserving designs and efficient space plans has resulted in character defining buildings that have been recognized by professional organizations as noteworthy architecture.

He is a frequent guest lecturer and design critic.  Articles by him or about him have appeared in Design and several issues of Construction Specifier Magazine.  He has been the recipient of several grants and awards, notably in 1976, an Illinois AIA Annual Award for contributions to the profession of architecture.  He is also co-author of several books relating to architectural education including Historic Preservation Education and Archi-Teacher.

As well as participating in professional organizations such as the American Institute of Architects, Mr. Olsen is an active leader in community activities and civic duties. He serves on the Board of the Champaign Historic Preservation Council and has held offices in county wide organizations that promote built environment education.   He has initiated community efforts to promote the revitalization of a theatre facility and creation of a historical museum in Champaign, Illinois, a school based Architect-In-Residence program and a public education program for the Center for the Study of Art and Architecture.

Gary was one of the founders of the C-U Sunrise Rotary Club and has served as president of the organization.  He is actively involved in humanitarian efforts to provide disaster relief throughout the world through the ShelterBox organization and serves on the board of ShelterBox USA.  For his efforts, Gary Olsen received a Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President Obama.



Bachelor of Architecture

University of Illinois, 1969


Master of Architecture, with highest honors

University of Illinois, 1977



                Illinois – No. 1-7945


Professional Affiliations

American Institute of Architects (No Longer Affiliated)

  •   Central Illinois Chapter

-Past President

  • Champaign-Urbana Section

-Past Chairman



Preservation and Conservation Association

  • Institutional Heritage Award

                Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority House

                Kappa Sigma Fraternity House

  • Adaptive Heritage Award

                Jillian’s Entertainment

  • Residential Heritage Award

               501 N. Randolph Apartments


Central Illinois Chapter of AIA

  • Design Award


Dobbins, Fraker, Tenant, Joy & Perlstein Law Office

Champaign, Illinois


St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

Bloomington, Illinois


  • Illinois AIA Special Award for Contributions to the Profession of Architecture for the Coordination of the Bicentennial Celebration, “Illinois Architecture:  A Revolution of the Prairie.”


  • National Award from Progressive Architecture Magazine for Research in Historic Preservation


Project Experience related to the design of public library facilities:


Adaptive Reuse and Restoration of the Burnham Athenaeum, Champaign (original building housing the former Champaign Public Library) into offices for the practice of law.


Historic Belleville Carnegie Library (among the oldest libraries in Illinois) Renovations and Restoration.


New Library Facility for the Mason City Public Library, Mason City, Illinois


Additions, Renovations and Adaptive Reuse of an existing structure for the new Taylorville Public Library, Taylorville, Illinois.


New Public Libraries in:

Arthur                          Oakwood

Bement                        Tolono

Champaign – Douglass Branch

Lovington                    Oakwood

McLean                       Tolono


Additions and Renovations to Libraries in:

New Berlin                    Dwight

St. Joseph                     Catlin

Arcola                          Taylorville

Hoopeston                   Marshall


Community Service

Historic Preservation Commission

Champaign, Illinois



Champaign-Urbana Sunrise Rotary Club



Virginia Theatre Group

Champaign, Illinois

-Founding President

-Board of Trustees


Champaign County Historical Museum

Champaign, Illinois



Arts and Humanities Council

Champaign County, Illinois



Design and Conservation Foundation

Champaign County, Illinois



Downtown Development Council

Champaign, Illinois

-Past-Chair, Design Committee


Chamber of Commerce Building Safety


Champaign County, Illinois



Educational Concepts Group



Center for the Study of Art & Architecture


-Board of Trustees


Champaign County Community Foundation

-Board of Trustees

-Chair, Investment Committee


Champaign Downtown Association

-Founding Member

-Board of Trustees