JTHS Alumni Spotlight: Remembering Peter McBride, Joliet Township High School Class of 1954
Career & Education At-a-Glance
- Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Civil Engineering, Joliet Junior College & University of Illinois-Chicago
- United States Marine Corps.
- United States Marine Corps Reserve
- Won International Competition for the design of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore
- Won three design awards (3 out of six) for medical facilities, American Institute of Architects
- Allstate Insurance Company’s Headquarters in Northbrook, IL - American Institute of Architects - National Design Award
The great, Chicago-based architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “A great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly so much as he is made by way of a cultivated, enriched heart.” These words resonate with the life of the late JTHS alumnus Peter McBride whose brilliance and great heart live on through his architectural designs that stand today throughout the country and the world.
Even as a high school student, McBride’s sharp mind, warmth, and ambition were palpable. He was an inspiring leader in many activities, most notably as a member of the JTHS basketball team and as president of the class of 1954. He also participated in College Preparatory, the senior play, student council, Hi-Y, football, baseball, and served as junior class president.
He went on to bravely serve the country as part of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He truly found his passion for design and architecture upon studying civil engineering at Joliet Junior College and the University of Illinois-Chicago and studying architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, McBride had the priceless experience of being taught by the world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright is also known for having said, “I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.”
Deciding to fully commit himself to a successful career in architecture, McBride’s career flourished after receiving the NCARB Registration and architectural licenses from 16 different states throughout the U.S.
As an accomplished architect, McBride brought his creative visions to life, exemplified through a diversified portfolio of successful projects spanning more than thirty years, with projects including office buildings, research facilities, medical facilities, commercial projects, educational facilities, industrial buildings, government buildings, and parking structures.
During his career, McBride took on roles of great prestige, including as the Vice President and Senior Project Director of Ellerbe Becket in Minneapolis, the 2nd largest architectural firm in the USA with 800 employees. He was also the President and Owner of McBride Architecture, located in California. He also owned and managed Schmidt, Garden & Erikson in Chicago, the 13th largest firm in the USA with 300 employees, and formed SGE West when he moved to California. Due to his great experience and knowledge, he served as a guest instructor for three years with the Ohio State University College of Hospital Administration graduate program.
McBride also worked on a joint ventured major project with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, widely regarded as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture. McBride managed many projects costing over one-hundred-million dollars, secured additional commissions from most clients, and managed projects in such countries as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
His exceptional work did not go unnoticed. He won the International Competition for the design of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore. He won the American Institute of Architects’ National Design Award for his design of the Allstate Insurance Company’s Headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois. He was also awarded three Medical Facility Awards by the American Institute of Architects. The Chicago Housing Authority awarded McBride for designing a small economical home on a 25-foot-wide lot.
Lee Heilman, a lifelong friend of McBride’s, recalls him fondly, “He developed MS around 1985 or so and ultimately passed away in 2011. During his final years he used a wheelchair 24-7. Even so, he was still able to drive. In my opinion, he was truly a remarkable person.” Indeed, a remarkable person, McBride’s passion for his work serves as an inspiration for people of all ages.