We’re celebrating Black History Month by taking a deeper look at the influence of Black practitioners in planning, design and construction.

Today, we’re featuring Robert L. (Bob) Wesley. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Wesley received his Bachelor of Architecture (1962) and Master of Architecture (1963) from the University of Oklahoma, where he was the second Black graduate of the OU architecture program. Wesley joined the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in 1964 and became its first Black partner in 1984.

During his nearly four decades with the Chicago office of SOM, he worked on an impressive range of civic, educational, commercial, master planning and infrastructure projects located in the US and internationally, including Algeria, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the UK.

Among his major urban Chicago projects, Wesley worked on included The Art Institute of Chicago, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago Symphony Hall, Chicago Lyric Opera House, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Chicago Lakefront Millennium Park, O’Hare International Airport and Collateral Land Planning, Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago International Entertainment District.

In 2020, the SOM Foundation created an award in his name for BIPOC undergraduate students enrolled in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, or structural engineering programs across the US.

We encourage you to learn more about Robert L. Wesley, an incredible individual who has contributed exceptionally to civic and cultural growth and the field of architecture.

You can learn more about Wesley on the SOM Foundation website at: bit.ly/36V8Kkm