Lewis, Walter H. (1928-2013) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Lewis, Walter H. (1928-2013)


Historical Note:

Walter H. Lewis (1928-2013) became assistant professor of architecture at the University of Illinois in 1958, associate professor in 1962, full professor in 1967, and retired as professor emeritus in 1992. Lewis was known for his excellence in teaching, as well as for his work in housing, environmental regional planning, construction technology, community involvement, and accessibility issues as they relate to architecture. At the School of Architecture, Lewis chaired the Administration-Communication-Technology (A-C-T) Teaching Division and was the coordinator of the Architectural Practice Option. He also pioneered and coordinated a program that awards the Master of Architecture degree along with the Master of Science in Civil Engineering-Construction Management degree; this program is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. In 1976, Lewis formed the Professional Practice Resource Group--a panel of noted Illinois architects who visit the school to provide "hands-on" experience for architecture students of all levels. This group has since then evolved as a resource board and liaison between the professional and academic spheres.

Walter H. Lewis was born on August 28, 1928 in Fairmount Illinois to Walter and Mildred (Stultz) Lewis. Lewis joined the US Army in 1946 and served with the 1st division in Italy during World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1947, and married Mary Read on December 24, 1950, with whom he had three children. He attended the Michigan Technical Institute--studying pre-engineering--and the Illinois Wesleyan Institute—studying pre-architecture. Lewis attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in architecture (1952 and 1954), where his graduate research assistantship in the "Small Homes Council-Building Research Council" was the start to his lifelong research and teaching on construction technology. Lewis was a member of the Wesley Methodist Church and its board of trustees and served on the building committee. In 2012, Lewis was able to participate in the Central Illinois Honor Flight as acknowledgement of his service in World War II.

Lewis lectured nationally and internationally--including in the Soviet Union during the cold war era--on housing and community development which emphasized environmental design and energy conservation. He was, for instance, invited by US state governors to talk about these topics or by Civic Trust, Auckland, New Zealand, to tour the country and be a keynote speaker at a national conference on creating "Open Space in the New Zealand Urban Environment" in 1975. Lewis co-authored the textbook: Construction: Principles, Materials, and Methods (1968), and—while on sabbatical--he wrote the Construction book of a series of five books by the United States Savings and Loan League called The Construction Lending Guide. These guides were created to offer better comprehensive standards concerning land planning, design, construction, appraising, and construction loan procedures. Through the University of Illinois's Office of Continuing Education and Public Service, he organized "The Academy for Code Administration and Enforcement" -- the first of its kind in the United States. As an architect, Lewis produced the full range of architectural construction documents for commercial, industrial, and institutional commissions. He served Chair of the Technology and Practice Division of the Department of Architecture, as senior project architect at Architectural Spectrum, and held a joint appointment as Research Architect in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (during a sabbatical), where he worked on a team to develop design guidance for private A/E firms who perform Corps work.

Walter Lewis's many honors include: one of the ten "Top Performers" named by House and Home magazine for his contributions to the housing industry (1970); the Albert H. Baum Award for the greatest contribution to the advancement of professional and code administration from The Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA International) – whose model Basic Building Code was used by more than 1000 local and state governments at the time (1971); Faculty Service Award from the National University Extension Association for efforts in continuing education and public service in the field of regulatory code administration and enforcement (1975), the Illinois American Institute of Architects (AIA) Annual Award for service to the profession (1983), The National Academy of Code Administration's Founder Award (1983), and The Illinois Council/AIA Excellence in Education Award (1986).

Lewis was a member of AIA, served on its board, was president of the Champaign-Urbana section of AIA's Central Illinois Chapter, and was the Illinois region director for AIA's National Board of Directors. He was inducted into the AIA College of Fellows in 1990. Lewis served on the Illinois Council AIA Registration Task Force (starting in 1982) that rewrote the Illinois Architecture Act from 1919.  He served as chair of the Illinois Architectural Licensing Board, and as chair and secretary of the Illinois Architecture Examining Committee. He served on the National Academy of Code Administration's board of directors and executive committee (1972-1984), the Architect Registration Examination (A.R.E) Committee of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) (1980), and represented Illinois in the NCARB's national committee to set goals for the organization (1984). He was also annually appointed a Research Fellow of the Urban Land Institute from 1982 to 1985. Walter Lewis died at the age of 85 on November 8, 2013.

Sources: The Illinois School of Architecture (UIUC), http://www.arch.illinois.edu/node/206 (accessed March 9th 2015); The Heath and Vaugn Funeral Home Obituary, http://www.heathandvaughn.com/lewis,_walter.html (accessed March 9th 2015).
Note Author: Susanne Belovari



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