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About this collection

For more than twenty years, the Chicago Architects Oral History Project documented the contributions of architects to Chicago during the 20th century. The CAOHP was begun in 1983 under the auspices of the Art Institute's Department of Architecture to record the life experiences of architects who shaped the physical environment in Chicago and surrounding communities. It was intended not only to fill an existing void in the literature but to go beyond the facts to explore motivations and influences, behind-the-scenes stories, and personal reflections. This collection of oral histories contains comprehensive life-review documents as well as shorter, focused interviews. These narratives explore the development of Chicago's architecture and planning from the early 1900s to the present day.

Included in the collection are Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partners and associates, students and colleagues of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, members of the Chicago Seven, principals of second- and third-generation architectural and engineering firms, and architects who defy classification. The work described in these interviews ranges from suburban homes to urban skyscrapers to institutional and public buildings and beyond. Most of the oral histories also provide a perspective on American architectural education, especially the influences of the Beaux-Arts and Bauhaus curricula. In addition, many of the interviewees speak of important collaborations with internationally renowned artists and architects on projects in Chicago and throughout the world.

 

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Corn Crib, central Illinois, 1977. Photo courtesy Phillip Turner. Miralago Ballroom, Wilmette, IL, 1930. Historic Architecture and Landscape Image Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago 320 N. Oakdale, Chicago, IL, c.1953-1954. Department of Architecture and Design, The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Mrs. Audrey K. Schwartz. St. Joseph's Hospital; Chicago, 1963. Photograph courtesy of Belli & Belli. 345 California Center; San Francisco, California; 1985
Photo by Jane Lidz Townhouse, 'Exquisite Corpse' exhibition, Walter Kelley Gallery, Chicago, 1977. Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China
Copyright, SOM; Courtesy, SOM Proposed renovation of the Rookery Building; Chicago, 1992. Rendering by James Smith. Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.



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