Harry Mohr Weese was born in 1915 in Evanston, Illinois, and studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University, receiving his bachelor's degree from MIT in 1938. After graduation, Weese was awarded a fellowship in city planning at Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In 1939, Weese joined the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Shortly thereafter, he began his own architectural practice with Benjamin Baldwin, his brother-in-law and former Cranbrook classmate. In 1941, Weese joined the Navy as an engineering officer. Weese returned to SOM in 1946, but left to open his own office, Harry Weese Associates, in 1947. Throughout his career, Weese was an outspoken advocate for architecture and planning that embraced the social, political, and economic realities of contemporary urban life. Among his most recognized designs are the Washington, DC, metro rail system; the United States embassy in Accra, Ghana; and the Arena Stage complex near Washington, DC. Weese also led the restoration of Louis Sullivan's Auditorium building in Chicago. Weese was recognized through numerous awards and honors, and served on many blue-ribbon panels in the arenas of architecture, urban planning, and the fine arts. Weese was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1961. He died in Manteno, Illinois, in 1998.
Weese speaks about his early influences and exposure to architecture; education at MIT and Yale; fellowship at Cranbrook; joining Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; reflections on the Baldwin Kingrey store; opening his own office; work in Ghana on the American Embassy building; beginning work on the Arena Stage building in Washington, D.C.; renovating the Auditorium building in Chicago; designing the Washington, D.C., Metro system; serving on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee; designing the Metropolitan Corrections Center in Chicago; work in Columbus, Indiana; Weese's role in the Chicago AIA.
Metro Subway System, Washington, D.C., 1966. Photograph courtesy of Harry Weese Associates.
Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago, IL, 1968. Photograph by John Zukowsky.
"Here's the way [the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, in Chicago] happened. Didn't want any windows, so we had a skylight. The ceiling is hung and it's plaster and the structure is strutted like that. For a while we were going to have the struts exposed and you could see the slung ceiling, but then I thought that was a little too far-fetched--it would be too extravagant--and so I went with a straight roof up to the oculus. There's a skylight on top of the oculus--it's a little bit like the Roman Pantheon, which has a twenty-foot-wide skylight....The other thing, that sunken garden was for the benefit of the Sunday School, which didn't have any windows--it was all underground on lower Wacker. So it was all functionally structural and in every other way."
Funding for this oral history was provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Additional funding for the electronic presentation of this transcript was provided by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.
1 hour 24 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago This bronze by Daniel Chester French is a reduced version of the full-size statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., which French worked on with the architect Henry Bacon. The Lincoln Memorial has remained a cherished destination at the National Mall since its dedication in 1922.
Find French's historic depiction of Lincoln in our galleries of American art.
2 days 3 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Abstract Experiments: Latin American Art on Paper after 1950
During the mid-20th century, Latin American artists were active in the evolving international discourse on modernity, at a time of industrial expansion and political transformation in South America.
Abstract Experiments provides an illuminating complement to Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium and reflects the Art Institute’s recent efforts to expand its holdings of Latin American painting, sculpture, and works on paper.
2 days 21 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium
The Art Institute presents the first U.S. retrospective of this groundbreaking Brazilian artist. A relentless innovator always pushing the boundaries of art, Oiticica is arguably the most influential Latin American artist of the post–World War II period and is recognized for inspiring Tropicália, a powerful movement that influenced art across media in Brazil.
In addition to viewing his early works on paper, visitors are invited to take off their shoes and walk through immersive sand-filled installations, view Amazonian parrots, and try on wearable objects designed by the artist.