AIA lifetime achievement winner Gertrude Kerbis dies aged 89


Gertrude Lempp Kerbis, a modernist US architect who was one of the first women to achieve success in the field, has died at the age of  89.

Kerbis from Chicago began practicing architecture in 1948 and established her own firm, Lempp Kerbis in 1967.

Her notable projects include Mitchell Hall,  a dining building at the U.S. Air Force Academy, as part of Skidmore Owings & Merrill’s overall campus design; the  rotunda building at O’Hare International Airport  and its round Seven Continents restaurant; and a tennis club in Highland Park.


In 1975, when she branched out into developing and selling her own projects, Kerbis  told the Chicago Tribune,  “I’m a woman. People don’t come to me. I want to be an architect, and if I can’t get it one way, I’ll do it another.” .

In 2008, Kerbis received a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the first woman and only the third person to get the honour.

Kerbis said, “I was inspired  by Frank Lloyd Wright, I studied with Gropius and I studied with Mies van der Rohe. These were the visionaries of our age. I just hope that I pushed the ball a little farther.”

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