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Charles Booher Genther (1907-1987)

Dates of Interview:

September 30, 1983

Location of Interview:

The Art Institute of Chicago


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

40 pages
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Biographical Summary

Charles "Skip" Booher Genther was born in Savannah, Missourri, in 1907. He studied at the University of Oklahoma and at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he became a personal friend and later a colleague of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. After working at in the Chicago offices of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and at Holabird & Root, he founded PACE Associates. PACE collaborated with Mies on such Chicago projects such as the Promontory Apartments, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, the Algonquin buildings, and buildings on the IIT campus. Further, PACE was active in building new towns and Illinois tollway projects. Genther taught at the University of Illinois, Chicago, until he retired in 1981. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1967. Genther died in 1987 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Interview Highlights

Genther speaks about his study at the University of Oklahoma; Mies and studying at the Illinois Institute of Technology; work and colleagues at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; PACE Associates; working with Mies on the Promontory Park Apartments, the Algonquin, and 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments.

Preliminary design sketch of 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, c.1946-1948.
Drawn by Mies van der Rohe. Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.

860-880 Lake Shore Drive; Chicago, 1949-1951. Photo courtesy of Chicago Aerial Photo Services.

Interview Excerpt

"I asked Mies if he would be willing to collaborate with [PACE], and he said, 'Well, sure.' We organized this firm in May of 1946, and by May we had the contract for the Promontory Apartments....[PACE was an acronym for] planners, architects and consulting engineers....I conceived the name myself....I felt that it was not the day of the individual--it was the group that people wanted to hire, and they wanted to hire everybody that they could in one contract....The first associate was W.H. Binford, the second associate was William B. Cobb, and then John F. Kausel, and then Walter Stopa. Dick Farwell, a man named William Culver, Robert Johnson came in, and Morris Hertel. Those were the associates...Most of the people had been with Holabird & Root. Most everyone had been trained by Holabird & Root....The idea came out of Reginald Isaacs, the chief of planning at Michael Reese Hospital, and we wanted to get into hospital work." (pp.17-18)

Additional Resources

Charles "Skip" Booher Genther images in the R&B Archives
Related archival materials in the R&B Archives
Works related to Genther in the Department of Architecture and Design

Funding for this oral history was provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.