Richard H. Driehaus, Champion of Classic Architecture, Dies at 78

Richard H. Driehaus, an avid investor who built his elementary school coin collection into a fortune that he used to preserve history and classical architecture, died March 9 in a Chicago hospital. He was 78 years old.

The cause was a brain hemorrhage, said a spokeswoman for Driehaus Capital Management, where he oversaw assets of around $ 13 billion as chief investment officer and chairman.

Mr. Driehaus (pronounced DREE house) restored landmarks in the Chicago area and donated a palace museum to the city celebrating the Gilded Age. As a counterbalance to the $ 100,000 Pritzker Prize, which was funded by another Chicago family and viewed by them as an affirmation of modern motifs, a “homogenized” rejection of the past.

He dived into the stock market from the age of 13, bet nosebleeds on risky stocks, and was named one of the 25 most influential mutual fund figures of the 20th century by Barron’s in 2000.

While he won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects in 2015 for sponsoring competitions that led to better designs, he never officially trained in the field. But he knew what he liked and what he didn’t.

“I believe architecture should be of a human dimension, form of representation and individual expression that reflects the architectural heritage of a community,” he told architect and urban planner Michael Lykoudis in an interview in 2012 for the Institute for Classical Architecture and Art.

“The problem is, there is no poetry in modern architecture,” he said in a 2007 interview with Chicago magazine. “There is money – but no feeling, no mind and no soul.” Classicism has a mysterious power. It’s part of our past and how we evolved as people and as a civilization. “

When asked whether he thought buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, for example, appropriate, he told Architectural Record in 2015: “They are mechanical, industrial and not very human. It’s like my iPhone, which is beautiful, but I don’t want the building I live in to look like this. “He added,” Architects build for themselves and for the public. They don’t care what the public thinks. “

The first Richard H. Driehaus Prize, awarded by the Notre Dame University School of Architecture, was awarded in 2003 to Léon Krier, a designer from Poundbury, the British model city built on the architectural principles of the Prince of Wales. The first American award winner in 2006 was Allan Greenberg, born in South Africa, who redesigned the contract room suite in the State Department.

In 2012, Driehaus’s opposition to Frank Gehry’s original design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington was attributed by many critics to improving the final design.

In a statement following the death of Mr. Driehaus, A. Gabriel Esteban, the president of DePaul University in Chicago, the alma mater of Mr. Driehaus (and recipient of his philanthropic generosity), wrote the success of Mr. Driehaus to a “curious mind, relentless determination” to learn and insatiable desire. “

Mr Esteban said Mr Driehaus’s approach was the result of part of his “training in neighborhood parish schools”. Mr. Driehaus himself credited the nuns who taught him at the St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic School in southwest Chicago. “In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic,” he told Chicago magazine, “they taught me three things: you have to keep learning all your life, you have to be responsible for your own actions, and you have to give something back.” for the society.”

Richard Herman Driehaus was born in Chicago on July 27, 1942, the son of Herman Driehaus, a mechanical engineer for a company that manufactured coal mining equipment, and Margaret (Rea) Driehaus. He grew up in a bungalow in the Brainerd neighborhood.

With his father rooted in a dying industry, his hopes of bringing his family to a better home were never realized. (His mother returned to work as a secretary when her husband developed Alzheimer’s disease in his fifties.) “I knew I would never work as hard as my father and couldn’t afford a house he wanted for us,” Driehaus told Philanthropy Magazine in 2012, “What my father couldn’t do, I wanted to do.”

As a coin collector in third grade, he raised money for the family. He subscribed to a coin-operated magazine, he later recalled, and “looked in the back of the publication to see what they actually wanted to buy for their own accounts rather than what they wanted to unload in public.”

When he was intrigued by a page in The Chicago American at the age of 13, “with company names, numerous columns and numbers showing many minor changes in the fine print,” he decided that “this was the industry for me” and invested the money, with which he earned delivery from The Southtown Economist in stocks recommended by financial columnists. The stocks fueled and taught him to research the growth potential of any company on his own.

He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, enrolled at Southeast Junior College, and then moved to DePaul, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1965 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1970. He worked for investment bank AG Becker & Company, becoming its youngest portfolio manager and for several other companies before founding his own company, Driehaus Securities, in 1979. In 1982 he founded Driehaus Capital Management.

He married when he was in his early 50s; The marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by three daughters, Tereza, Caroline and Katherine Driehaus, and two sisters, Dorothy Driehaus Mellin and Elizabeth Mellin.

“I didn’t do anything until I was 50,” Driehaus told the New York Times in 2008. “I spent my first few years making money for my clients. I’m ready to have fun now. “

He hosted his own extravagant themed birthday parties for hundreds of guests in his villa on Lake Geneva (he made his grand entrance on an elephant at a gala) and indulged in his passion for collecting.

He started with furniture that he made available to a bar called Gilhooley’s, then switched to decorative arts and art nouveau for the iconic Samuel M. Nickerson mansion, a palazzo that he restored as the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. He also collected a fleet of vintage cars.

He gave hundreds of millions of dollars as best he could to DePaul and Chicago theater and dance groups, Catholic schools, and other organizations often overlooked by great philanthropy. And he felt quite comfortable being a very big fish in a smaller pond – but a more hospitable one.

“In New York, I’m just another successful guy,” he told the City Club of Chicago in 2016. “You can’t do anything in New York. But you can do that in Chicago because it’s big enough and small enough and people actually get along enough. “

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