Yau Chun (Y.C.) Wong was born in 1921 in Canton, China. Before coming to the United States, he studied architecture at the Central University of China from which he was granted a bachelor's begree in 1945. Wong came to Chicago to further his study of architecture and was awarded a scholarship at the Illinois Institute of Technology. At IIT, he studied under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and earned his master's degree in 1951. Wong worked in Mies's office for seven years before opening his own office in 1959. Except for several years when Wong was in partnership with R. Ogden Hannaford, the office of Y.C. Wong & Associates continues today. After winning an award for Atrium Homes in Chicago that he designed in 1961, he became known as the "atrium architect." He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1975. Wong died in Chicago in 2000.
Wong speaks about his architectural education and work in China; study in Chicago; early work in Chicago architectural offices; in the classroom with Mies; an independent office; atrium homes in Chicago; partnership with R. Ogden Hannaford
Liao House; Olympia Fields, Illinois, 1964. Photo courtesy of Hedrich-Blessing, Signature Collection.
"At the time when I designed [the Atrium Homes], I really had no preconceived idea. I was working on the project, and when I found how it came out--that is the most economical and most satisfactory--it was an atrium...I just had the idea at the time when I designed the house that...when I get home after a day's work, I just want to be home and I don't want to be on the street. " (p. 23)
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.