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 office, he worked on an impressive range of civic, commercial, entertainment, master planning, and infrastructural projects in the US and internationally, including Algeria, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and the UK.
As lead project administrator and liaison with clients, Wesley managed and coordinated the execution of several complex projects—working closely with the client’s representatives, the construction manager or general contractor, and special consultants to ensure each project’s successful completion. Wesley retired from SOM on September 30, 2001.
“Bob was a leader who contributed to the history and pioneering work of SOM for almost four decades,” said Doug Voigt, Partner, Urban Design and Planning. “He led the way in bringing his passion for design to many generations of young and aspiring architects, especially those in underserved communities, with programs encouraging them to follow in his footsteps.”
Over the years, Wesley has continuously contributed his professional expertise and experience to numerous civic organizations, including the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Chicago Area Council, the Central Region of the Boy Scouts of America, the Private Sector Resource Council, and the Newhouse Architecture Foundation Inc., for which he was a founding board member.
“The naming of this BIPOC academic award is truly an honor, which I must express my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to the SOM Foundation.” said Robert L. Wesley. “It is my belief that one of the greatest gifts a young person can receive from any authority, organization, or institution, is an education. And this award exemplifies exactly that. Education is one of those indelible rights that keeps our society strong, productive, and empathetic. When used properly, all of society benefits.”
Applications must be received by Monday, November 9, 2020. More details, including eligibility and application requirements, are available on the application page.