William Wilde
(1904-1984)

William and Sylvia Wilde

William Wilde was born in the Ukraine in 1904. After participating in the Bolshevik Revolution, he fled Czarist troops by escaping into western Europe. He received his earliest architectural training in Europe before immigrating to the U.S. in 1923. Wilde attended the Rhode Island School of Design. He moved to Tucson after World War II and started his own architectural office.

Wilde was one of the pioneers of Modern architecture in Tucson. Although Wilde's work closely followed national trends, he was usually at the forefront of design trends locally. There are three distinct phases in Wilde's design work. His international Modern designs in the 1950's expressed a simplicity and purity of form and that required a rigorous execution; the design for the College Shop was perhaps the purest expression of the tenets of early European modernism built in Tucson. Unfortunately, the building was demolished in 2001. The second phase of Wilde's design career in the early-mid 1960s focused on structure, pattern and texture. The elaborate expressionism of buildings such as Supreme Cleaners and State Hardware was a dram's third phase was characterized by his search for architectural significance through mass and scale; the best of these buildings was the Tucson Police Department, built in 1974. Throughout his career, Wilde's attention to detail was exceptional.

Wildes's wife Sylvia played a significant role in the office's design work in the early years; her retail designs helped to draw major clients, such as the College Shop, Lerner, and Cele Peterson. Wilde's unwillingness to join the AIA until they would accept Sylvia as a member was a testament to her role and ability.

Major buildings:
    College Shop (demolished)
    Lerner building (modified)
    Kitt Peak Dormitory
    State Hardware
    Supreme Cleaners
    UA Space Sciences
    Tucson Police and Fire Department, Downtown Headquarters