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Walter Netsch (February 23, 1920-June 15, 2008) was an Americanmarker architect based in Chicagomarker. He was most closely associated with the brutalist style of architecture, as well as the firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. His signature aesthetic is known as Field Theory and is based on rotating squares into complex shapes. He may be most well known as the lead designer for the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Coloradomarker and its famous Cadet Chapelmarker. The Cadet Area at the Academy was named a National Historic Landmark in 2004.

Summary of work

After graduating from The Leelanau School, a boarding school in Michiganmarker, Netsch studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker, and then enlisted in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He began his career as an architect working for L. Morgan Yost in Kenilworth, Illinoismarker. In 1947, he joined Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which initially assigned him to work in Oak Ridge, Tennesseemarker. Later he became a partner for design in that firm.

Following his work on the Air Force Academy, Netsch led the team which designed the original University of Illinois Circle Campus. The campus design grouped buildings into functional clusters and now constitutes most of the east campus buildings at the University of Illinois at Chicagomarker. During his career, Netsch designed 15 libraries, as well as academic buildings for colleges and universities in the United States and Japan, including Grinnell College, Miami Universitymarker, Wells Collegemarker, Illinois Institute of Technologymarker, Sophia University, Texas Christian Universitymarker, University of Chicagomarker, and University of Iowamarker. He did the initial design for the Inland Steel Building in Chicago; built circa 1956-1957, this was the first skyscraper built in Chicago's Loopmarker after the Great Depression. He also designed the east wing of the Art Institute of Chicagomarker. Netsch designed several buildings at Northwestern Universitymarker and was the focus of an exhibit at the Northwestern University Librarymarker in February-March 2006 as well as a monograph, Walter A. Netsch, FAIA: A Critical Appreciation and Sourcebook, published in May 2008.

Recognition

Netsch taught at several universities, received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and served as a trustee at the Rhode Island School of Designmarker and a member of the Board of Governors at Northwestern University Library. From 1986-1989, he served as Commissioner of the Chicago Park District, appointed by mayor Harold Washington. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architectsmarker in 1967. In 1995, he was interviewed for the Chicago Architects Oral History Project.

Netsch was a collector and patron of the arts, along with his wife, Illinoismarker politician Dawn Clark Netsch, to whom he was married since 1963. The couple's art collection has been exhibited several times.

Netsch maintained a private consulting practice and was viewed as a mentor by many architects.

References

General



Notes

  1. Circle Campus History
  2. Walter Netsch Biography, Northwestern University Library website (accessed January 29, 2008)
  3. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architects Oral History Project - Walter Netsch
  4. Walter Netsch, Architect, Northwestern University Library website (accessed January 29, 2008)
  5. Walter A. Netsch, FAIA: A Critical Appreciation and Sourcebook
  6. Netsch takes his wine and cheese to the parks. Chicago Sun-Times, July 6, 1986
  7. Walter Netsch, Chicago Architects Oral History Project



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