Born in 1915, Harry Mohr Weese was raised in Kenilworth and attended New Trier High School. He studied with Alvar Alto (his major aesthetic influence) at MIT. Weese spent his junior year at Yale. After graduating from MIT in 1938, Harry was awarded a fellowship to Cranbrook Academy where he studied with Eliel Saarinen (later to become his mentor) and developed life-long friendships with Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, and other promising architects. After Cranbrook, Weese was awarded a fellowship from MIT’s Bemis Foundation to research pre-fabricated housing. In 1940, he joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Weese put his career on hold during WWII as a chief engineer aboard Navy destroyers. Weese married Kitty Baldwin, a successful designer in her own right, in 1945. After the war (1947), he returned to SOM then formed Harry Weese and Associates (HWA) and Baldwin Kingrey (with Kitty) that same year.
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; the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, in Chicago and the Arena Stage complex near Washington, DC. Weese’s own home and studio, located in Barrington, Illinois, has been restored in the hands of private owners. 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.
A must-have book for your architectural library is: Harry Weese Houses, by Kitty Baldwin Weese, available at the Prairie Ave. Bookshop in Chicago and at online architectural bookstores.