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Bruce J. Graham

Bruce J. Graham, a nearly 30-year partner of Chicago architecture giant Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and a driver of high-rise designs that now define the Windy City’s skyline, died on March 6 in Hobe Sound, Fla., at age 84. The cause was complication of Alzheimer’s disease, say published reports. Graham, degreed in both architecture and civil engineering, led design of Chicago’s first two buildings to reach or exceed 100 stories: the John Hancock Center in 1970 and the Sears Tower in 1974. Graham, who joined SOM in 1951 and was partner from 1960 until he left in 1989, pushed the “Chicago school” of architecture, “a bold style of commercial building based on steel-frame construction and spatial aesthetic,” says SOM. He also led the master plan of London’s Canary Wharf redevelopment. But Graham and other former partners sued for $44 million, claiming SOM misrepresented its financial condition when it postponed payments to them. Some of the claims were dismissed by an Illinois court in 1997.

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