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Reginald Malcolmson (1912-1992)

Dates of Interview:

August 28, 29, 30, 1987

Location of Interview:

Chicago, Illinois


Betty J. Blum

Length of Transcript:

151 pages
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Biographical Summary

Reginald Francis Malcolmson was born in 1912 in Dublin, Ireland. He studied architecture at Trinity College in Dublin, the College of Technology in Belfast, and the Royal Institute of British Architects in London before entering private practice in Belfast in 1945. In 1947 he left Ireland to study with Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology (1947-49). Malcolmson worked in the Office of Mies van der Rohe from 1948 through 1955 and was in private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from 1966 until 1992. He also taught architecture at IIT (1949-64), the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1964-74), and as a Fulbright lecturer at various universities in South Africa (1968-69). Malcolmson was named a Fellow of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in 1961. He died in Michigan in 1992.

Interview Highlights

Malcolmson speaks of his decision to leave a thriving practice in Ireland to study with Mies van der Rohe at IIT; experiences at IIT; Mies as a hero; Naum Gabo; Ludwig Hilberseimer; graduate thesis; Alfred Caldwell; Konrad Wachsmann; Mies's resignation from IIT: merging of the Institute of Design with IIT; the American Institute of Architects; Malcolmson's devotion to visionary architecture; the University of Michigan.

Malcolmson with model of "Metro-Linear: the Regional Metropolis", at IIT, c. 1960. Photograph by Dan Ryan, courtesy of Reginald Malcolmson.

Malcolmson and "Expanding Skyscraper"; exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago, 1990.

Interview Excerpt

"Visionary architecture is my destiny. All else in my career pales and fades into the background by comparison. Its paramount importance, which exerted, as it were, a dominating influence on me, reduced all other activities to subordinate roles in promoting and making possible this work, which holds a never-ending and even obsessive fascination for me." (p. 139)

Additional Resources

Related archival materials in the R&B Archives
Works by Malcolmson in the Department of Architecture and Design

Funding for this oral history was provided by The Art Institute of Chicago and the Canadian Centre for Architecture.