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Bruce Graham, Chicago Skyscraper Architect


Sears Tower in Chicago, USA. Bruce Graham (SOM), Architect.

Willis Tower (originally Sears Tower) in Chicago, USA. Bruce Graham (SOM), Architect.

Photo ©iStockPhoto.com/Andy Hwang
A leading architect for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Bruce Graham transformed Chicago's skyline, designing some of the City's most famous skyscrapers.


December 1, 1925 in La Cumbre, Colombia, near Cali, Columbia


March 6, 2010 in Hobe Sound, Florida, near Miami, Florida

Early Life:

Bruce Graham's mother was from Peru and his father was an international banker from Canada. During his childhood, Graham lived in Puerto Rico. His native language was Spanish.


  • University of Dayton, Ohio
  • Case School of Applied Sciences in Cleveland, Ohio
  • University of Pennsylvania, architecture degree in 1948

Selected Buildings:

  • 1974 to 1976: Willis Tower (Originally the Sears Tower), Chicago, Illinois
  • 1974: First Wisconsin Plaza, Madison, Wisconsin
  • 1970: John Hancock Center, Chicago, Illinois


  • "It would be difficult to say with words or music what I feel I can say best with building."
    Bruce Graham, quoted by SOM

About Bruce Graham:

Bruce Graham was considered one of America's leading designers of high-rise buildings. Although he never studied with Mies van der Rohe, he was instrumental in applying "Miesian" ideas to Chicago's skyscrapers. Most significantly, Graham used the tubular frame principle for several important buildings.

After the 1970s, America began to look less favorably on stark architecture in the Mies van der Rohe style. Graham's designs became more complex with greater detail.

Like architect David M. Childs, Bruce Graham has served as a general partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) for most of his career. In addition to his famous skyscrapers, Bruce Graham helped create the 1973 urban plan for Chicago.

Before joining Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Bruce Graham worked briefly for the firm of Holabird and Roche.

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