Robert Geddes, FAIA
William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Architecture, Emeritus.
M.Arch., Harvard University
Robert Geddes simultaneously pursued three careers for more than sixty years. In 2012, Princeton University Press published his book Fit: An Architect's Manifesto.
#1 Education - After studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the post-war Gropius / Hudnut era, he taught architecture and civic design at the University of Pennsylvania. He came to Princeton in 1965 to become the first Dean of the School of Architecture, and is now William Kennan Professor Emeritus. In 1990, he was appointed the Henry Luce Professor of Architecture, Urbanism, and History at New York University, and was elected a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities. He pioneered in connecting architecture with the humanities and social sciences, and with public affairs and urban design, and is probably he is best known for his undergraduate course, Arch 101, "Buildings, Landscapes, and Cities" at Princeton and NYU. He was co-author of the Princeton Report on architectural education for the AIA (1967). He was awarded honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees by the New Jersey School of Architecture NJIT and the City College of New York. He received the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for architectural education (1984).
#2 Architecture - He co-founded a collaborative practice, Geddes Brecher Qualls Cunningham: Architects in Philadelphia and Princeton, which won national and international competitions and awards. starting with being runner-up in the Sydney Opera House design competition (1955), He was GBQC design partner for the Pender Electrical Engineering Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, the Police Headquarters of the City of Philadelphia, Richard Stockton College in New Jersey, Hill Hall at Rutgers Newark, the Humanities and Social Science Center of Southern Illinois University, the Architects Housing in Trenton, Princeton Community Housing's Griggs Farm neighborhood, and probably best known, the Dining Hall and Birch Garden quad at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Design, and GBQC was awarded the highest professional honor of the American Institute for Architects, The Architectural Firm Award (1979) for "design quality, respect for the environment, and social concern."
#3 Urbanism - He was the urban design consultant for the Center City Plan of Philadelphia (1988) and the Third Regional Plan of New York for the Regional Plan Association (1996). GBQC won first prize in the international design competition for Vienna-South urban extension (1972), and the GBQC master plan for Liberty State Park was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art (1979). He worked with the CUNY Newman Institute on alternatives for the Hudson Yards in Midtown Manhattan. He co-founded the civic association, Princeton Future, which created the concept design for the new plaza, housing and parking in Downtown Princeton. For the United Nations Center for Human Settlements, he directed the "UNCHS Conference on Cities in North America," produced its report "Cities in Our Future" published by Island Press, and wrote for the journal American Prospect, "Metropolis Unbound: The Sprawling American City and the Search for Alternatives."
He was appointed Dean of the School of Architecture, Princeton University, in 1965. Under his leadership over 17 years, the School of Architecture emerged as a major center for the exchange of architectural ideas, while retaining its small size and close connections with the rest of the university. Geddes' unique ability to reconcile the competing demands of professional education and intellectual inquiry set a standard for the School of Architecture that continues to this day.
Cover photo by Mark Czajkowski.