IN MEMORIAM: Arthur Takeuchi, Chicago Architect

IIT Professor Michael Glenn, Tokiko Catherine Takeuchi (Daughter of Arthur Takeuchi), Laura Miller (Family friend to the Takeuchi’s and no relation to Ward), and Ward Miller, Executive Director of Preservation Chicago at Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology memorial service for Arthur Shigeo Takeuchi on April 1, 2023. Photo credit: Ward Miller / Preservation Chicago

“Arthur Shigeo Takeuchi (June 16, 1931 – October 28, 2022), architect, pupil of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and former faculty member of the College of Architecture of the Illinois Institute of Technology dies at 91.

“For Chicagoans, Takeuchi’s most familiar work is probably the Chicago Civic Center, now known as the Richard J. Daley Center. Takeuchi represented Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) as Assistant Chief Architect on that project.

“As a project architect at Skidmore, he became responsible for the design of several office buildings. The Central Motor Bank in Jefferson City, Missouri, won an award from the American Institute of Architects, and the BMA Tower in Kansas City, Missouri, won awards from both the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Steel Construction. As Assistant Chief of Design on the Chicago Civic Center project, Takeuchi collaborated with Jacques Brownson of C.F. Murphy Associates and was responsible for the building’s unprecedented wide structural bays intended to house over one hundred twenty courtrooms along with numerous elevators to service the offices and courthouse. Takeuchi was initially devastated when he was given the assignment, and the many difficulties posed by the project meant that the partners were reluctant to be involved. The three buildings were redesigned into a single building with a plaza, which would later become the site of the celebrated sculpture by Pablo Picasso. Over the years, Takeuchi shared many stories with his family, friends, students and colleagues about the unexpected twists and turns entailed by the numerous challenges of the project.

“Bruce Graham of SOM subsequently invited Takeuchi to work on the John Hancock Center and later the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower). But Takeuchi elected to open his own architectural firm with Louis Johnson, also a former Mies pupil and Walter Peterhans’s right-hand man at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Takeuchi & Johnson Architects opened in the Rookery Building, later moving to 37 S. Wabash Avenue. In 1965, as the Illinois Institute of Technology’s architectural program grew in national prominence, Takeuchi was recruited to teach by George Danforth, head of the architecture department. That was the beginning of a distinguished teaching career at IIT.

“Takeuchi established his own firm in 1970. Projects included the Central Bank corporate headquarters, Central Bank West, a branch facility, as well as its expansion, renovation work on the Central Motor Bank in Jefferson City, Missouri; preliminary studies on the Charles Bronfman Residence in Montreal; the P.B. Lambert Apartment in Chicago; preliminary studies on the Stenn Residence in Chicago; alterations to the Central Trust Bank; the Wendell Smith Elementary School (formerly the Gately Park School) on Chicago’s South Side; and the Modular Schools Program, a prefabricated, rapidly erectable system for the Public Building Commission of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Education.

“He also worked on preliminary plans and cost studies for the Republic of the Philippines of Prefabricated Plastic Houses for Warm-Humid Countries; preliminary phase studies for the Bank Headquarters Building in Jefferson City, Missouri; and renovation work for the Malcolm X College Curtainwall. He served as Consulting Architect to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago, designing for the latter the Gunsaulus Hall for European decorative arts including glass and chinaware, ceramics, gold and silverware and medieval armor.

“Takeuchi played the cello, had a deep appreciation for classical music, and enjoyed reading and watching films by Yasujiro Ozu. He was good friends with other Mies students such as John Heinrich, architect of the Lake Point Tower in Chicago, as well as the architect/artist Alex Corazzo. He continued to work with and visit his mentor and colleague, Alfred Caldwell, in Bristol, Wisconsin, whose house he helped build as a student, until Caldwell’s death in 1998. Takeuchi was registered in Colorado, Illinois, Missouri and New York and was certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

“A resident of Hyde Park, Chicago, IL for the past 78 years, Takeuchi died at home on October 28, 2022. His siblings Richard, Beatrice and Austin are all deceased. He is survived by his wife, Toki; daughter Tokiko Catherine Takeuchi; and son Edward Kenji Takeuchi. The Illinois Institute of Technology is planning a memorial service in the spring of 2023.” (Hyde Park Herald, 12/19/22)

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