It was a bold move. In 1932, William Bernoudy left his studies and part-time job at Washington University to apprentice with Frank Lloyd Wright. Living and working at Wright’s Taliesin estate in Wisconsin, the St. Louis native absorbed many lessons and began to discover his own architectural voice. After returning home, Bernoudy would design hundreds of structures, including the Saint Louis Zoo’s north entrance and Louis D. Beaumont Pavilion in Brookings Quadrangle.
This fall, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will dedicate the William A. Bernoudy Architecture Studio, thanks to a $1.5 million gift from the Gertrude & William A. Bernoudy Foundation. Located within the new Anabeth and John Weil Hall, the 6,580-square-foot studio will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design.
“Over the last 10 years, graduate architecture enrollment has roughly doubled,” says Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the Sam Fox School and E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts. “The Bernoudy Architecture Studio will meet this heightened demand with a versatile, light-filled space designed to support collaborative work and emerging 21st-century design practices. It’s an amazing addition to our campus, and we are proud that it carries the Bernoudy name.”
Though influenced by Wright’s notion of organic architecture, Bernoudy based his practice on three distinct principles: the use of open interiors that maximize natural light; the use of gardens and landscaping to extend living spaces outdoors; and custom details and materials based on interviews with his clients.
“Over the last 10 years, graduate architecture enrollment has roughly doubled. The Bernoudy Architecture Studio will meet this heightened demand with a versatile, light-filled space designed to support collaborative work and emerging 21st-century design practices.”Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the Sam Fox School
The Bernoudy Architecture Studio will embody similar values of lightness and transparency, according to Heather Woofter, the Sam and Marilyn Fox Professor and director of the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design. “The flexible, open floor plan will accommodate intensive research, hands-on studio work, and conversations among students, faculty, and visiting critics. The stunning views of Brookings Hall recall Bernoudy’s own integration of the natural and built environments. It’s a space that invites the landscape inside.”
In 2006, the Sam Fox School’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum dedicated its Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery in honor of Bernoudy’s wife. A familiar figure in the international art world of the mid-20th century, Gertrude was a Czech émigré known for her patronage of, and friendship with, artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore.
The couple met in the early 1950s, when the future Mrs. Bernoudy was looking for an architect to design her home. On a flight from California to St. Louis, she spotted one of William’s projects in Town and Country magazine and, as reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “declared that Bernoudy was to be ‘her’ architect.”
The couple married in 1955 and remained together until William’s death in 1988 at age 77. Gertrude died in 1994 at age 79.
“Bill and Gertrude were true cultural leaders,” says John Schaperkotter, trustee of the Bernoudy Foundation. “Their deep love and sustained passion for world-class art and design helped shape the visual culture and built landscape of St. Louis as we know it.
“The William A. Bernoudy Architecture Studio, like the Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery, will inspire students for generations to come.”