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Ambrose M. Richardson (1917-1995)

Dates of Interview:

February 1, 2, 3, 1990

Location of Interview:

Richardson's home in South Bend, Indiana


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

243 pages
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Biographical Summary

Ambrose Madison Richardson was born in 1917 in Helena, Arkansas. He began his studies at the University of Chicago (1934-35) but later transfered to study architecture at the Armour Institute of Technology (later the Illinois Institute of Technology) in Chicago, graduating in 1939. He took a job with the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1937 and remained there until joining the military during World War II. In 1945, Richardson returned to SOM, staying until 1951, when he began a dual career teaching at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and working in his own private practice in that city. Richardson was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1966. He died in St. Joseph, Indiana, in 1995.

Interview Highlights

Richardson speaks about study at the University of Chicago; studying architecture at the Armour Institute of Technology; work at SOM; military service; Lake Meadows, Chicago; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Chicago; teaching and building on the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana campus; the University of Notre Dame; Richardson's firm, A.M. Richardson & Associates.

Law Building; University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, 1956.
Photograph courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives.

Interview Excerpt

"The apartments in Lake Meadows represented an urban project, it's true, but primarily a garden project. Even though it was high-rise, the whole emphasis from my design point of view was on the green. Not the whole emphasis, but proper balance of green. I'm a strong believer that a building cannot be better than the setting that it's in. I remember a quote of [Nat] Owings, "A person can't grow where a tree can't grow." I've always liked that because I haven't been a landscape planner, but I've been a strong believer in the landscape identified with any building." (p. 144)

Additional Resources

Ambrose Madison Richardson images in the R&B Archives
Related archival materials in the R&B Archives

Funding for this oral history was provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Publication of this oral history in web-accessible form was made possible by the generous support of The Vernon and Marcia Wagner Access Fund at The Art Institute of Chicago, The James & Catherine Haveman Foundation, The Reva and David Logan Family Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Daniel Logan and The Reva and David Logan Foundation.