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John Zils received a B.A. degree in architecture and an M.S. degree in structural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is a licensed structural engineer and architect in Illinois, a licensed professional engineer and architect in Wisconsin and a licensed professional engineer in New York. Mr. Zils is a Fellow of American Association of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a Fellow of American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is a past president of the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI), past president of the Structural Engineers Foundation (SEF) and past chairman of the Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings.

Mr. Zils joined Skidmore Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM) in 1966 as a structural engineer and recently retired as an Associate Partner after more than 40 years with SOM. During that time, he has been responsible for the design of numerous major building projects throughout the U.S. and the world to include Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower), Chicago; the Hajj Terminal, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Onterie Center, Chicago; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain and Millennium Park (Pritzker Pavilion), Chicago. Currently, he is working on a part-time basis with SOM as a Senior Structural Consultant. In addition, he has been active with both the City of Chicago and the City of New York by serving on committees to revise the structural chapters of the code for each city. Mr. Zils has served as an Adjunct Professor at (UIUC) and currently serves on the Professional Advisory Board for the Department of Architecture at Judson University.

Mr. Zils has received a number of awards to include the 1999 ASCE Innovation in Civil Engineering Award, the 2001 ASCE Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2002 SEAOI John Parmer Award, the 2002 Institution of Structural Engineer (IStructE) Oscar Faber Award and the 2006 SEAOI Service Award. Also, he has published numerous papers and participated in numerous video interviews on the subject of structural engineering. He currently resides in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with his wife, Karla.