• Identification2011.011
  • TitleA guide to the Robert Philip Gordon Papers, 1963-2010
  • PublisherPaul V. Galvin Library, University Archives & Special Collections
  • LanguageEnglish
  • RepositoryPaul V. Galvin Library, University Archives & Special Collections
  • OriginationGordon, Robert Philip
  • Date1963-2010
  • Physical Description29 Boxes, 10 flat files, and 4 oversize items.

Robert Philip Gordon (b.1940) studied Architecture (B.Arch., 1963) and City and Regional Planning (M.S., 1967) at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago) during the time of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig Hilberseimer, and Alfred Caldwell. Of his instructors, Gordon says, “Mies taught us to look at details, Hilbs taught us to look at the ‘big picture’ and Caldwell reminded us that the landscape is the context for all of our work.”

Gordon’s graduate studies occurred during the time of the Viet Nam Conflict, and he wanted to do a Thesis on the Mekong River Valley. Instead, Hilberseimer advised him to “do something he said was more difficult; the Southside of Chicago.” The resultant work is his 1967 thesis titled Chicago: Southside Replanned, which became the foundation for some of his later professional work.

Gordon’s professional career was primarily conducted in Paris and Chicago. In Paris, he worked with Stanley William Hayter at the famed printmaking studio, Atelier 17, and managed design for the EuroDisneyland Project. While living in France, photographs of buildings he designed in Chicago were exhibited at the 1983 international exhibit “150 Years of Chicago Architecture” in Paris.

In Chicago, Gordon worked on city planning projects under three Chicago mayors, Richard J. Daley, Harold Washington, and Richard M. Daley, and served on various civic committees including Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Landscape Advisory Task Force from 2000-2010. (See Boxes 12 and 13 for related drawings.)

Gordon spent much of his career designing single-family residences, townhomes, and mid-rise condominiums as well as commercial buildings. In 1970, he founded Robert Gordon Associates, Architecture/Planning. Returning to IIT, he taught in the School’s Department of City and Regional Planning. Today he also serves as a Graduate Thesis Adviser for Architectural Studies and Interior Architecture at Columbia College (Chicago), and as a consultant to the Grant Park Conservancy, which he co-founded. He has authored two books, Perspective Drawing: A Designer’s Method (2008) and Residential Design Studio (2011), both published by Fairchild Books.

For more information, see Robert Philip Gordon’s autobiographical account in Series 3: Biographical Materials (Box 20).

Gordon Timeline: • 1963: Receives a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from IIT. • 1963: Works for Holabird & Root as a draughtsman. • 1967: Receives Master of Science – City and Regional Planning degree from IIT. Master’s Thesis is Chicago: Southside Replanned.; thesis adviser, Paul Thomas. • 1964: Begins work with the Department of City Planning for the City of Chicago. • 1964-66: Works on the first comprehensive Plan for Chicago since the Burnham Plan of 1909. • 1967-71: Teaches in IIT’s Planning Department. • 1968: Works with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and produces the community planning document “Alternative Plans for Kenwood-Oakland,” a new type of community planning document known as advocacy planning. • 1970: Starts architectural practice, Robert Gordon Associates. • 1982: Contributes artwork to the Paris exhibition and book, “150 Years of Chicago Architecture”. • 1985-1992: Moves to France and spends time focusing on making art. Works with William Stanley Hayter at Atelier 17, in Paris, to learn and produce viscosity prints. Spends time in living and creating in San Francisco, California. • 1985-1986: Teaches at the Paris-American Academy of Beaux Arts. • 1987-1988: Teaches at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. • 1988-1991: Back to Paris, serves as Design Manager, The EuroDisneyland Project near Paris. • 2000-2010: Serves on Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Landscape Advisory Task Force. • 2002: Founds, with Bob O’Neill, the Grant Park Conservancy. • 2004-2010: Instructor and Thesis Adviser at Columbia College (Chicago). • 2008: Publishes "Perspective Drawing: A Designer’s Method" (Fairchild Publications). • 2010: Publishes "Residential Design Studio" (Fairchild Publications).

The Robert Philip Gordon papers consist of the output of the professional career of architect, urban planner, artist, and Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago) graduate Robert Philip Gordon.

The Papers are divided into five series, some with multiple subseries, and maintain topical divisions identified by Mr. Gordon. Series 1 (Architecture), 2 (Artwork), and 4 (Planning) demonstrate the different types of work Mr. Gordon performed over the course of his career. Series 1 (Architecture) and 4 (Planning) are sub-divided by type and organized by date, which allow researchers to follow the trajectory of Mr. Gordon’s career over time. Series 2 (Artwork) is primarily organized by material size and subdivided by process and subject. Series 3 (Biography) is organized by topic, and Series 5 (Publications) is organized by publication type.

Highlights of the Collection include architectural plans and drawings for residential and commercial buildings, planning narratives in both draft and final forms, planning sketches and drawings, and artwork done in a variety of mediums. Many works in the Artwork series relate to architecture and planning projects, particularly images of Chicago parks and streetscapes.

Mr. Gordon, an alumnus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago), donated his papers to IIT Archives in 2011.

Collection Arrangement

The collection is arranged in five series: SERIES 1: Architecture Subseries 1: Architectural Artwork Subseries 2: Commercial Buildings Subseries 3: Furniture Design Subseries 4: Public Buildings Subseries 5: Residential Buildings Subseries 6: Slides SERIES 2: Artwork Subseries 1: Works 8 x 10 inches and smaller Subseries 2: Works 10 x 15 inches and smaller Subseries 3: Works 13 x 18 inches and smaller Subseries 4: Works 16 x 21 inches and smaller Subseries 5: Works 24 x 36 inches and smaller SERIES 3: Biography SERIES 4: Planning Subseries 1: Urban Design and Planning Subseries 2: Landscape Design and Planning SERIES 5: Publications

Some records may be restricted.

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Robert Philip Gordon Papers, Paul V. Galvin Library, University Archives & Special Collection

  • NamesGordon, Robert Philip
  • Subject
    • Architecture--Study and teaching (Graduate)
    • Urban Development
    • City Planning