One of the “Chicago Seven” architects who broke with the city’s modernist aesthetic during the 1970s and 80s, Thomas H. Beeby, will receive the 2013 Richard H. Driehaus Prize. Considered the traditionalist’s Pritzker Prize, the Driehaus comes with a $200,000 purse and denotes a lifetime of contributions to classicism in contemporary built work.
Beeby’s rational design is evident in downtown Chicago’s Harold Washington Library. The design pulls core structural elements towards the outside—“an inversion of Mies,” Beeby said, but also a nod to classical construction—exposing structural columns that serve dual purposes as functional elements and ornamental city landmarks. Amid the building’s red brick and granite blocks, ornamental elements display a blended architectural language that is typical of postmodern design: the Board of Trade’s Ceres appears along with corncob spandrels and seed pods representing the bounty of the Midwest, while the form evokes proto-skyscrapers like the nearby Rookery and Monadnock buildings.
As a principal at HBRA Architects, Beeby’s portfolio of built work includes many museums, libraries, university buildings, and other institutional projects. His work on churches has made an impact on the discourse of spiritual architecture.
Previous Driehaus laureates include Michael Graves, Robert A.M. Stern, and Rafael Manzano Martos. The foundation also gives out the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design.