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The Richard M. Daley Friend of the Neighborhoods Award

Thomas H. Beeby

Eric Young Smith

If you know Tom Beeby only through his Chicago designs – the Harold Washington Library, the Harris Theater, the 1980s wing of The Art Institute, the Sulzer Regional Library, among others – you get a sense of the degree to which he has shaped the public realm. Throw in his architectural work elsewhere – university buildings, performing arts centers, urban and campus master plans, high-rise and suburban office buildings, renovations of historic structures, religious buildings, retail projects, housing developments, private residences – and you have an even greater appreciation of his influence and reach.

But Beeby has steered architectural sensibilities in other ways, too. As dean of the Yale University School of Architecture from 1985 to 1991 and an adjunct professor since then, he has shaped the world view of a generation of students at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Prior to that, he directed the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago and taught at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Beeby has also played a less public but equally influential role in shaping the Chicago landscape. For the last 20 years he has chaired the jury that selects the winners of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design. “Community” in this case typically isn’t downtown, the lakefront, or other places that are magnets for innovative architectural commissions. The Driehaus award winners ply their trade in underserved parts of the city – Roseland, Austin, East Garfield Park, Little Village, North Lawndale, Woodlawn, Washington Park and others not on tourist maps.

Each year, an independent jury comprised of architects, planners, developers, preservationists and community leaders, reviews dozens of submissions. On a single day in October, the jury piles into a bus to visit up to 12 finalists, schools, libraries, affordable apartment buildings, and community centers. Voting, managed by Beeby with the same authority he wields in the classroom, takes place on the bus at the end of the day. No one leaves until consensus has been achieved.

Under his leadership, 60 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design have been presented, each to a project that changed the lives of the people who use them and live near them.