Professor Emeritus Williams - In Memoriam
Monday, June 6, 2016
We pause to honor Professor Emeritus A. Richard Williams, FAIA who died on May 27, 2016 at the age of 101.
After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1936 with a medal from the American Institute of Architects, Dick did his graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving the MIT Medal in 1937. Over the years he has taught, lectured, or served on juries at more than 30 universities, including Illinois, Arizona, UW-Milwaukee, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma State. He also worked abroad with the University of Illinois, Versailles, France from 1965-1999, Notre Dame University in Rome, Italy from 1978-2002, and with the American Academy in Rome, Italy from 1964-2002.
Operating originally from his Champaign studio, and then from his St. Ignace summer studio and his winter studio in Tucson, he consulted with cities and architectural firms around the world, including Harry Weese and Associates in NY; Perkins & Will in Chicago; the SOM office in Denver; RSP of Minneapolis; General Design of Branson, Missouri; Arco Progetti in Florence, Italy; and our own Brooks/Albanese in Tucson.
In recent years, Dick designed the St. Ignace Public Library, dedicated on June 18, 2005. He completed a summer residential complex for the Wellman family on La Salle Island in the Les Chenneau Archipelago in Cedarville, Michigan. And of course, he was instrumental in the design and funding of the Archon Room atop the College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona-Dick said we needed a suitable room (with a view) to have visionary discussions.
Dick read, wrote, and published throughout his life. His recent book, Archipelago-Critiques of Contemporary Architecture and Education, was published in 2009 and distributed by the University of Illinois Press. Archipelago is Dick's summation of his life in architecture. Looking back on a career spanning seven decades as an architect and educator, he contemplated the importance of friendship, lessons acquired from his heroes, inspiration he drew from universities, and the wonders of oceans, deserts, cities and great architecture.
Long a benefactor of the School of Architecture, Dick's most recent contribution was the Archon Prize, an annual student design competition situated in the 3rd Year Land Ethics Studio. Occurring within a critical moment in the curriculum, the Archon Prize is awarded just when aspiring architects should be able to comprehensively, if not elementally, design a complete building. Furthermore, Dick envisioned the Prize to extol values upon which this School has always been based and in which Dick's own teaching and practice were steeped-the Archon Values of:
Genus Loci: The understanding of, respect for, and sensitivity to the spirit of place.
Design Excellence: The drive to achieve work exemplary for its quality and thoroughness of content and presentation, as well as its holistic orchestration of design.
Cross-Disciplinary Integration: The synthesis of issues and expertise from all aspects of the designed environment.
By sponsoring a parallel Prize at the University of Illinois, Dick managed to arrange what he always did so effectively: bring people together over a love of Architecture. Professor Williams's commitment to the essential nature of PLACE, Genus Loci, and his belief that architectural education should spring from the well-constructed detail was the impetus for the Archon Prize.
The School is deeply indebted to Professor Emeritus Williams for his vision and support.