Pietro Belluschi
Born(1899-08-18)August 18, 1899
DiedFebruary 14, 1994(1994-02-14) (aged 94)
AwardsAIA Gold Medal
National Medal of Arts
BuildingsEquitable Building
Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

Pietro Belluschi (August 18, 1899 – February 14, 1994) was an Italian-American architect. A leading figure in modern architecture, he was responsible for the design of over 1,000 buildings.[1]

Born in Ancona, Italy, Belluschi began his architectural career as a draftsman in a Portland, Oregon firm. He achieved a national reputation within about 20 years, largely for his 1947 aluminum-clad Equitable Building. In 1951, he was named the dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, where he served until 1965, also working as collaborator and design consultant for many high-profile commissions, most famously the 1963 Pan Am Building. He won the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal in 1972.

Early life

Pietro Belluschi was born in Ancona, Italy, in 1899.[2] He grew up in Italy and served in the Italian armed forces during World War I when Italy was allied with Great Britain, France, and later the United States.[2] Serving in the army he fought against the Austrians at the battles of Caporetto and Vittorio Veneto.[2] After the war, Belluschi studied at the University of Rome, earning a degree in civil engineering in 1922.[1]

He moved to the United States in 1923, despite speaking no English, and finished his education—as an exchange student on a scholarship—at Cornell University with a second degree in civil engineering.[1][2][3] Instead of returning to Italy, he worked briefly as a mining engineer in Idaho earning $5 per day, but he then joined the architectural office of A. E. Doyle in Portland,[2] living in Goose Hollow.[4] He remained in the U.S., as friends in Italy had cautioned him to not return home because of the rise to power of Benito Mussolini and the Fascist government.[2]


Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco

At Doyle's office, Belluschi rose rapidly, soon becoming chief designer. After Doyle died in 1928, the firm took him into partnership in 1933. By 1943, Belluschi had assumed control of the firm by buying out all the other partners and was practicing under his own name.

In 1951, Belluschi became Dean of the architecture and planning school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a position he held until 1965.[1] When he accepted the position of dean and moved to Massachusetts, he transferred his office in Portland to the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The move reduced his annual income from $150,000 to a salary of $15,000, but was prompted by health concerns attributable to the long hours of managing his office while still designing buildings.[2]

Belluschi emerged as a leader in the development of American Modern architecture, with the design of several buildings reflecting the influence of the International Style and his awareness of the technological opportunities of new materials. Most important was the Equitable Building (1944–47) in Portland, Oregon: a concrete frame office block clad in aluminum, and considered the first office building with a completely sealed air-conditioned environment.

Belluschi's churches and residences differed from his commercial works. Although of Modern design, they fit within the development of the Pacific Northwest regional Modern idiom as they frequently used regional materials (particularly wood) and were often integrated with their suburban or rural sites.

Awards and honors

Belluschi was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1952.[5] In 1953, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and became a full member in 1957. He served as a presidential appointee on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1950 to 1955.[6] He was a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and was awarded the AIA Gold Medal, the highest award given by the institute, in 1972.[1] He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1991 for his lifetime achievements.[7] Belluschi was on the jury that selected the winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.[8]

Later life

After leaving MIT in 1965, he continued to work. Belluschi would design and consult on both buildings and issues surrounding urban planning. Pietro Belluschi was married first to Helen Hemmila on December 1, 1934, the mother of his two sons, Peter and Anthony. His son Anthony Belluschi is an architect.[9][10] After his wife's death in 1962, he married in 1965 to Marjorie Bruckner (1920–2009). Pietro Belluschi died in Portland on February 14, 1994.[2]

Selected works

Commonwealth Building in Portland.
Rohm and Haas

Belluschi's designs include:


  1. ^ a b c d e Belluschi, Pietro. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved September 22, 2007, from: Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Gragg, Randy. "Belluschi revered as creative, 'spiritual' architect". The Oregonian, February 15, 1994.
  3. ^ Birkland, Dave (February 16, 1994). "Pietro Belluschi, 94, Helped Design Seattle Convention Center". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  4. ^ Prince, Tracy J. (2011). Portland's Goose Hollow. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-7385-7472-1.
  5. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  6. ^ Thomas E. Luebke, ed., Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 2013): Appendix B, p. 540.
  7. ^ National Medal of Arts: Medalists. Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine National Endowment for the Arts, accessed September 22, 2007.
  8. ^ a b Clausen, Meredith L., Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London 1994, ISBN 0-262-03220-1
  9. ^ Libby, Brian (6 July 2021). "Nearly 80 Years Later, An Architect Rescues a Japanese-Inspired Masterwork Designed by His Father". Dwell. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  10. ^ Eastman, Janet (2018-09-27). "Modernist architect Pietro Belluschi's modest farmhouse for sale (photos)". The Oregonian, OregonLive. Retrieved 2021-08-17.
  11. ^ a b c d "Architects Associated with Oregon State Hospital". Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  12. ^ Adams, Bree (2009-10-09). "Northrup: History in the re-making". thelinfieldreview.com. The Linfield Review. Retrieved 2021-11-10.
  13. ^ a b Gregg, Robert D. 1970. Chronicles of Willamette, volume II: Those eventful years of the President Smith era. Salem, Or: Willamette University.
  14. ^ "Peter Kerr House by Pietro Belluschi at GreatBuildings". GreatBuildings. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  15. ^ MacColl, E. Kimbark (1979). The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1915-1950. Portland, Oregon: The Georgian Press. ISBN 0-9603408-1-5.
  16. ^ "Central Lutheran Church: Building History". Archived from the original on July 30, 2007. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  17. ^ "Tucker-Maxon School excels". The Southeast Examiner of Portland Oregon. Apr 1, 2013. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  18. ^ "Salem (Oregon) Online History - YWCA". www.salemhistory.net. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  19. ^ Marion County Circuit Court:The Marion County Courthouse: A Historical Perspective Archived 2008-05-01 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Archives West: Pietro Belluschi Collection, 1927-1983". archiveswest.orbiscascade.org. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  21. ^ A Guide To Baltimore Architecture, Third Edition, Dorsey & Dilts, 1997 ISBN 0-87033-477-8, pg. 333-334
  22. ^ a b c "Raising Baltimore's Skyline" Gunts, Edward. The Sun [Baltimore, Md] 27 Dec 1987: T11.
  23. ^ "University of Oregon News release: "UO Gallery Shows Drawings by Pietro Belluschi". Archived from the original on May 29, 2004. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  24. ^ A Guide To Baltimore Architecture, Third Edition, Dorsey & Dilts, 1997 ISBN 0-87033-477-8, pg. 347
  25. ^ "The Unitarian Universalist Church". Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  26. ^ "Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church (Roseburg, Oregon)". Building Oregon. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  27. ^ "Finally Looking Like A Church", Gunts, Edward. The Sun [Baltimore, Md] 02 Jan 1997: 2B.
  28. ^ "Welcome to Campus Ministry! | University of Portland". www.up.edu. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.
  29. ^ Clausen, Meredith L. Spiritual Space: The Religious Architecture of Pietro Belluschi, University of Washington Press; First Edition, August 1992.
  30. ^ George Fox University: Centennial Clock Tower Archived 2008-09-26 at the Wayback Machine,
  31. ^ "George Fox Athletics". George Fox Athletics. Retrieved Jan 10, 2020.