Chicago visit

April 12, 2012

I was in Chicago for my father’s birthday, April 3, and was happy to see that the work at the cemetery has turned out nicely. The groundcover around my parents’ gravestone was very pretty in bloom (a bit more may still be planted on the sides) and the two stones, my parents’ and Bruce Graham’s memorial stone, look perfect together – like partners, each with their own personality.

This felt like a special year. March 27 was the 30th anniversary of my father’s passing.

Bruce Graham's memorial stone and Fazlur & Liselotte Khan's gravestone

Bruce Graham's memorial stone was placed next to my parents' gravestone at Graceland Cemetery in such a way that the two stones relate to each other

Fazlur R. Khan gravesite

My parents' gravestone at Graceland Cemetery, April 2012

Graceland in Chicago

March 29, 2011

Graceland is the cemetery Erik Larson mentions in The Devil in the White City. Graceland is home to many architects and engineers – including Louis Sullivan, William Le Baron Jenney, Daniel Burnham, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – along with other prominent figures in Chicago history. Located in the city, just north of Wrigley Field, it is a surprisingly peaceful resting place. My parents’ site (partly shaded by the branches of a tree, near flowering landscaped areas, and within sight of the pond) is particularly lovely.

When my father died in 1982, Bruce Graham wrote a eulogy for him. My father and Bruce had worked together for over twenty years. I believe they both felt that their collaboration and respect for each other inspired their creativity over the years. It was Bruce Graham’s enthusiasm for rational structures, my father once said, that strengthened his motivation to search for structural solutions worthy of expression.

I was reminded of the importance of this personal connection between engineer and architect last October when I attended a memorial service for Bruce Graham. Printed on the program for the service was not a eulogy for Bruce but rather the eulogy Bruce wrote for my father. His words eloquently conveyed the heartfelt respect he felt for my father, as an engineer and as a person, and it was deeply moving for me to read them once again. I also greatly appreciated Bruce’s family, together with his former partners at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, choosing to feature his words about my father at a memorial service dedicated to Bruce.

And that was not all. With the help of SOM, Bruce Graham’s family obtained the plot next to that of my parents at Graceland Cemetery and placed a memorial stone for him there. As part of this work, the planting border around my parents’ stone was adjusted so that the two sites – Bruce’s and my parents’ – relate to each other. I am very happy about this new arrangement; and it means a lot to me to know that, 29 years after my father’s passing, his memory endures in this way. Still today, many people express to me their love and admiration for him – and I am sincerely grateful for this.

It is a gift my father left me.

My parents’ gravestone (left) and Bruce Graham’s memorial stone at Graceland Cemetery, October 2010.