Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr. (1897-1970)

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ernest Alton Grunsfeld, Jr. graduated from MIT's Department of Architecture in Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr.1918 and received a certificate in naval architecture the following year. Due to the Armistice, his commission in the Construction Corps of the United States Navy never came through. From 1920-1922, Grunsfeld, like many of his peers, attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After completing his studies, he returned to New York City and shortly thereafter, moved to Chicago to begin his practice.

Grunsfeld graduated from MIT just as World War I was coming to a close, thus making the subject of his senior thesis, A Citadel of Peace, an appropriate theme. His citadel used a stepped pyramid design that shared many similarities to the Mayan temples of Mexico and Guatemala, which may have influenced his work.

In 1931, Grunsfeld was awarded the gold medal from the American Institute of Architects for his design for Chicago's Adler Planetarium. The first structure of its kind in America, the solid, geometric massing of the Adler Planetarium shares many characteristics with Grunsfeld's senior thesis design. Talbot Faulkner Hamlin, a reviewer for Architectural Record, was clearly impressed with Grunsfeld's design:

"Here again it is a delight to see that mere size, and the current and unwise deification of the skyscraper have not influenced the decision. Grunsfeld's building has definitely 'arrived.' Simple, dignified, beautifully planned, it has as well that perfection of space relation which warrants the application to it of the term 'classic.'"

Talbot Faulkner Hamlin
Architectural Record, 1932

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