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Gene R. Summers

At a Glance

Class Year: 1949

Award Year: 2002

Degree: Bachelor of Architecture

Profession: Architecture


According to his old college roommate, while at Texas A&M, Gene Summers '49 (ARCH) was one of Bill Caudill's (the "C" in CRS) favorite students. Caudill urged him to attend graduate school at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he later studied under, then became chief assistant to, Mies van der Rohe, one of the world's most celebrated modern architects. For 16 years, Summers served as van der Rohe's project architect, working on important commissions such as the Seagram Building in New York City and the National Gallery in Berlin. In 1967 he became partner in charge of design in the Chicago architectural firm of C.F. Murphy Associates, where he remained until 1973. His best-known project from that time, the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, was completed in 1970. From 1973 until 1985 Summers, in association with Phyllis Lambert, worked as a real estate developer in California, where he restored, among other projects, several industrial parks, the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Newporter Resort Hotel in Newport Beach. In 1985, Summers moved to France but returned to Chicago in 1989 to become dean of the College of Architecture at IIT, a position he served in until 1993. At IIT, he was credited with developing a new educational program which embodies the cross-pollination of influences that shaped his own evolution. Approximately 25 years into his architectural career, Summers turned his hand to creating sculpture and furniture. Summers died in December 2011.