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D. Stanton Korista (1940-2018)

Dates of Interview:

February 4, 5, 11, and 12, 2009

Location of Interview:

Conference room at The Art Institute of Chicago


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

293 pages
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Biographical Summary

D. Stanton Korista was born on November 19, 1940 in Chicago. He attended Bradley University where he earned his Bachelor of Science of Civil Engineering degree in 1962 and the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, where he earned his Master of Science of Civil-Structural Engineering degree in 1964. After working for a year for an engineering firm in Peoria, Korista wanted to expand his horizon—to build tall buildings—and he entered the SOM workforce where he worked for the next forty-three years. During his career at SOM he worked closely with the foremost design architects of his day: Myron Goldsmith, Walter Netsch, Bruce Graham, and Adrian Smith on important worldwide award-winning commissions. Korista learned how to adapt to the differing needs of every job and the working methods of each design architect, a difference he found challenging and rewarding. Korista is registered in forty-one states; has been the recipient of honors from several engineering organizations; and is a member of numerous professional associations in the U. S., Europe and Asia. He is the author of numerous technical papers and after retiring in 2008, consulted for SOM. Korista died on May 8, 2018.

Interview Highlights

Stan Korista speaks about why he became an engineer working in an architectural firm. He speaks about his academic preparation and mentors he had along the way. At Skidmore, Owings & Merrill he worked with important designers: Myron Goldsmith, Bruce Graham, Walter Netsch and Adrian Smith on award-winning commissions. His projects include the Republic Printing Plant in Columbus, Indiana; the University of Illinois, Chicago campus; Canary Wharf in the Isle of Dogs, London; the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, China; Trump Tower in Chicago; and the Burj Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He speaks about the Institute for Architecture and Urbanism; furniture designs; the computer and how it is used; and the Pearl River Tower, a very green building, in Guangzhou, China. Stan is fast to acknowledge his challenging and interesting long career at SOM.

Trump Tower, Chicago, IL, 2009
Copyright, SOM; Courtesy, SOM

Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China
Copyright, SOM; Courtesy, SOM

Interview Excerpt

"I started working with Walter [Netsch], but as I mentioned previously, I might be working with Walter, I might also be working with Myron and working with Bruce, all at the same time... Again, one of the things I think about my career and history that's important, was the chance to work on a lot of different types of building projects with at least four or five significant architects of the period. That to me was very challenging and was probably the enriching and rewarding part of it, because each one of them was different; they didn't all do high-rise buildings or low-rise buildings or small buildings or big buildings. I did different things, and that was to me probably the most enriching part of working with SOM then and now." (p. 56)

Rowes Wharf, Boston, MA
Photo by Steve Rosenthal
Copyright, Steve Rosenthal and SOM; Courtesy, SOM

Additional Resources

Related archival materials in the R&B Archives

Funding for this oral history was provided by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP.