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E. Todd (Edward Todd) Wheeler

Dates of Interview:

June 8, 1983

Location of Interview:

Wheeler's home in Wilmette, Illinois


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

37 pages
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Biographical Summary

E. Todd Wheeler was born in 1906 in Wilmette, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1929 with a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering. He was the recipient of a Plym Traveling Scholarship, which enabled him to study in Europe for a year after graduation. Wheeler became a partner of Perkins Wheeler & Will in 1936, remaining there until 1944. While at that firm, he worked on the award-winning Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois. After 1944, Wheeler became an independent hospital specialist and consultant, holding various jobs in the field before he rejoined Perkins & Will in 1957. He remained with the firm, as the hospital specialist, until his retirement in 1971. Wheeler was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1955. He died in 1987 in Wilmette, Illinois.

Interview Highlights

Wheeler speaks about his study at the University of Illinois; work in the office of Perkins, Fellows & Hamilton; work in the office of Max Dunning; a companion for Dwight Perkins; the Century of Progress Exhibition, 1933-34; work for Perkins, Wheeler & Will; the Crow Island School and work with Eliel Saarinen; work as a hospital specialist; return to Perkins & Will.

Interview Excerpt

"[Larry Perkins and Phillip Will] and I went over to [Eliel Saarinen] to talk to him [about collaborating on the Crow Island School]. He said he would associate with us, and did so. But, bless his heart, he left the planning almost entirely to us. He had a strong influence in the character of it, because he was what we came to call ourselves later as folk architects. He was very conscious of the human quality needed in buildings to reflect human scale and human emotions...He was a romantic in that sense. Those qualities were his principal contribution to the Crow Island School...because he realized that's what we wanted him for." (pp.10-11)

Additional Resources

E. Todd Wheeler 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.