Alumni portfolios

Cynthia Weese

Dean Emerita

Biography 

Cynthia Weese, FAIA, was a founding partner of Weese Langley Weese, a distinguished Chicago architecture firm, and taught widely before becoming dean of the School of Architecture in 1993. Since stepping down as dean in 2005, she has continued her practice.

Weese earned a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Sciences in 1962 and a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1965, both from Washington University. At graduation she received the Alpha Rho Chi Medal. She worked independently for several years before joining Joe Karr & Associates, a landscape architecture firm, in 1971. She returned to independent practice again in 1974, following two years at Harry Weese & Associates.

Since its founding in 1977, Weese Langley Weese has been involved in both new construction and adaptive reuse projects throughout the country. The firm has worked for many colleges and universities, including Grinnell College, Williams College, and Regis University. It also has built hundreds of units of affordable housing. The firm has had several projects with the Art Institute of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute. Recent work includes projects for the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. The firm's buildings have received many design awards.

While practicing, Weese was a visiting critic at a number of universities. She also lectured widely and served on many competition and awards juries.

In 1993, Weese became professor and dean of the School of Architecture at Washington University, the first woman dean of a school at the University. During her tenure, she initiated international study programs, introduced computer technology initiatives, and enhanced the technology and design curricula. The graduate professional program is now consistently ranked among the top in the country.

A founding member of the School of Architecture's National Council, Weese is currently a member of the Sam Fox School National Council. She was active in the Sam Fox Arts Center Executive Committee during the process of planning and realizing two new buildings, the Kemper Art Museum and Walker Hall. Other contributions to the University include serving on University Council, the Campus Planning Committee, the Diversity Task Force, the Building and Grounds Committee, and several architect selection committees for University projects. In 2008, the University honored Weese with a Distinguished Alumni Award at its Founders Day celebration. She is dean emerita in the Sam Fox School.

Weese was active as chair of the Planning and Urban Design Committee for St. Louis 2004, a member of the architect selection committee for the Museum of Contemporary Art, and an advisor to the selection committee for the addition to the Saint Louis Art Museum. She served on the visiting committee for the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and on the editorial advisory board of the Harvard Design Magazine.

Weese's work has won a number of AIA design awards, and has been published and exhibited nationally and internationally. She has been featured in numerous publications such as Harvard Design Magazine, Progressive Architecture, Inland Architect, Chicago Architectural Journal and Architecture Contemporaine. A fellow of the AIA since 1991, she has been awarded two Distinguished Service Awards from AIA Chicago, the Excellence in Education Award from AIA Illinois, and the Tao Sigma Delta Gold Medal in Architecture. In 2017 she was the inaugural recipient of the Chicago Women in Architecture Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Weese has been active in many professional organizations. She was president of AIA Chicago and a member and vice president of the national AIA board. She is a founding member of Chicago Women in Architecture and the Chicago Architectural Club, and served as president of the latter. Recently she was elected as a board member of the Society of Architectural Historians, the second time she has served in this capacity. She is a member of the Chicago Design Initiative, an advisory group to the city's Department of Planning and Development.