Christopher J. Lilley, AIA

Managing Principal

As the Managing Principal and CEO, I am responsible for the business operations of the firm. I am also the Principal for Operations ensuring the overall performance of our project teams. While these two positions require a lot of attention, the majority of my time is spent on K-12 projects. As a Principal in Charge, I lead a great deal of community outreach and engagement, particularly in the early planning stages. I enjoy being hands-on with my projects all the way through the day the building opens; creating memorable experiences and forming lasting relationships with my clients.

Personally, I find inspiration in the impact that our work has on the communities we work in. I believe that place matters; that a well-designed school can dramatically improve a teacher’s ability to apply their craft and a student’s potential to thrive. I truly appreciate the opportunities we are afforded to work with school districts throughout the Puget Sound; to lead a dialogue with those communities about how they want to educate their children. From those conversations, we get to create buildings that become a part of the fabric of those communities for decades. If we do our job well, our buildings will positively influence the lives of generations of children. What a wonderful way to make a living!

As a leader of the firm and an employee of McGranahan Architects for more than three decades, I have a unique perspective on our constantly growing and evolving office culture. I see it as a reflection of the collective group of people who work here. The elements that stand out for me are our dedication to craft, our genuine collaboration, and our strong work/life balance.

We are passionate about the architecture we create and we set high expectations for ourselves. We are all willing to support one another and our teams are successful through each individual’s contributions. At the same time, we seek to forge a strong sense of community through supporting our families, service to others and our profession, and sharing our personal interests and passions with our colleagues. The firm itself is a collective expression of all of us who contribute to it. I am gratified to be a leader who helps cultivate such a rich professional environment.


Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies, University of Washington
Bachelor of Science in Building Construction, University of Washington
Licensed Architect; Washington