“It was an unparalleled opportunity to be part of the process of developing and building a Chicago icon,” remembers Smits
CHICAGO, Ill. (September 25, 2019) – The architectural career of Lansing resident Richard Smits was launched over 50 years ago at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, an architectural/engineering firm in Chicago. The firm had just begun the design of the John Hancock Center (now known as 875 N. Michigan Ave) in 1965. Smits was assigned to the design team and worked on various components of the project until it opened in 1969.
He was a member of a large team of architects, engineers, contractors, and a construction manager, and Smits’ primary contributions were drafting the building elevations and exterior wall details, visiting the manufacturer’s plant, witnessing the testing of the window wall mockup, and observing the window wall’s installation on site.
“It was an unparalleled opportunity to be part of the process of developing and building a Chicago icon, to be trusted with some significant responsibilities and to work with some of the profession’s most recognized architects and engineers,” said Smits.
The building is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, and members of the design and construction team were invited to be part of a panel sharing their memories of the process. The panel included Smits, one of the project’s structural engineers, and a structural engineer from American Bridge, the steel manufacturer. They were interviewed on Thursday, September 12, before a sellout audience at the Chicago Architectural Center.
Smits’ work on this project prepared him to be a coordinating architect and project leader for the design and construction of many major building projects in the USA, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. He retired as an Associate Partner of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill after 45 years of service, though he continues to use his training to benefit the Lansing community. Most recently Smits prepared a rendering of proposed updates to the Patti Leach Youth Center.
- Upgrading the Youth Center (June 29 article)