Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Professor Emeritus A. Richard “Dick” Williams, FAIA, passed away on the evening of May 27 in Tucson, Arizona, at age 101. His formal obituary appeared last week in the Arizona Daily Star. It notes that after retiring from Illinois, he moved Tucson, where for many years he was an active design critic at the University of Arizona.

Born September 23, 1914, Dick graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1936. After college, according to the Star obituary, Dick “was a Navy officer and served valiantly on a minesweeper in the Pacific in WWII.” After the war, in 1946, he returned to Illinois to serve on its Architecture faculty. During his long and distinguished career at Illinois, Dick was design architect for the College of Education building, work that earned him the prestigious AIA Honor Award. In 2007, he received the School’s Illinois Medal, and in 2013 he was recognized by the Design Futures Council with its 2013 Most Admired Educator Award. And just as he was admired, Dick admired students. He gave generously to four universities, including Illinois, where his gifts support the Archon Studio and the Archon Prize, a design competition he also established at the University of Arizona.

Dick reflected on his life in architecture in Archipelago: Critiques of Contemporary Architecture and Education (University of Illinois Press, 2009). In 2014, he shared his thoughts about his approaching centenary in a short video posted to YouTube:


The School will host a gathering in Chicago to celebrate Dick’s life on Friday, November 4, 5-7 p.m. The celebration will be held in the School’s Chicago Studio, in the historic Santa Fe Building at 224 South Michigan Avenue. Meet in the elevator lobby to be escorted to the studio, located inside the offices of VOA, Now Stantec. Questions? Contact Gail Rost (gailrost@illinois.edu).