Skip to content ↓

Obituary/Pietro Belluschi

Pietro Belluschi, one of the world's leading architects who served as dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning for 14 years, died February 14 at his home in Portland, OR, at the age of 94.

His buildings include MIT's MacGregor House dormitory at 450 Memorial Drive, opened in 1970.

The New York Times described him as a modernist architect whose work ranged from elegantly simple structures at the start of his career to such massive urban skyscrapers as the Pan Am Building in New York City and the Bank of America in San Francisco. He participated in the design of more than 1,000 buildings in all, among them the Juilliard School of Music and Alice Tully Hall in New York, which were done in association with a colleague from MIT, Eduardo F. Catalano, now professor emeritus of architecture.

Dean Belluschi, who came to the United States from Italy as an exchange student in 1923, was trained as an engineer at the University of Rome and studied at Cornell University.

He was dean of the MIT school, the nation's oldest, from 1951 to 1965. He was widely known as an educator during this period, writing and lecturing frequently. But he continued his architectural practice, doing most of the work at a drafting board at his Back Bay home.

At his retirement, MIT President Julius A. Stratton praised Dean Belluschi as "an inspiration to faculty members and students alike," adding that "his taste and judgment" had helped shape the Institute's own building plans and would be permanently reflected in the development of the campus during that period.

He continued: "During a period when contemporary architecture was dominated by a spirit of impersonal functionalism, he sought to combine elegance and beauty with usefulness. Here at MIT his creative spirit has been a dominant factor in the development of the School of Architecture and Planning... He has brought to the Institute a number of outstanding new members to the faculty. He has supported with vigor and imagination the extension and strengthening of the graduate program in the Department of City and Regional Planning [now Urban Studies and Planning]. Outstanding among the developments in planning during his tenure as dean were the establishment in 1958 of the PhD degree in planning, and the founding, with Harvard, in 1959 of the Joint Center for Urban Studies."

Dean Belluschi's first wife, the former Helen Hemmila, died in 1962. He is survived by his second wife, Marjorie, two sons, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A version of this article appeared in the March 2, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 24).

Related Topics

More MIT News