Aug 14th 2020

Innovative Architecture Professor Peter Land Passes Away at 92

Peter Land, professor at the College of Architecture for more than four decades, passed away on August 2, 2020, at the age of 92.

An expert in housing, urban planning, and structures for electrical energy generation, Land taught at Harvard University and other institutions before becoming a tenured faculty member at Illinois Institute of Technology, where he contributed greatly to the program and to the architecture profession as a whole. As evidence of his impact at the College of Architecture, he received the university’s distinguished teaching award twice, first in 1977 and then again in 2015. He retired as professor emeritus in 2018.

“Peter was a singular member of our faculty: extremely knowledgeable, of the highest curiosity, generous to students, and an inspiration to all,” says Professor and Former Dean of the College of Architecture Donna Robertson. “I remember so many unique projects from Peter’s teaching. He was a trusted confidant, a most valued colleague, and a friend. I will miss him greatly.”

Land was born in Norwich, a medieval English city that, along with his grandfather, a stone mason, influenced his interest in architecture at a young age. Land studied at the Architectural Association and Royal Academy Schools in London, where he was awarded a Grand Prix for his graduate studies of urban design. He received a master’s degree in urban planning from Yale University and a master’s degree in architecture from Carnegie Mellon University.

Following his education, Land practiced in both the United Kingdom and the United States. He was also Yale’s field director for an inter-American graduate program in urban and regional planning at the National University of Engineering in Lima, Peru, in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

While in Lima, he became the director for the United Nations’s Experimental Housing Project, PREVI, a high-density, low-cost neighborhood made up of 450 low-rise social housing units. Lands’s directorship of the project culminated in a competition that invited top architects from around the world to propose unit designs for the development. PREVI is home to hundreds of individuals to this day.

Land contributed to other innovative architecture and planning projects throughout his lifetime, including relief efforts for rural schools in Peru following a devastating earthquake there, and even the design of a proposed lunar base in the 1980s. He also supported the study of environmentally friendly and socially progressive architecture. Over the years, Land’s research-based studios pertaining to the performance of high-rise and long-span architecture helped solidify the college’s reputation as a leader in the subjects, and his impact lives on through the students he mentored.

“Peter Land epitomized the kind of outstanding professor-practitioner that led IIT Architecture to prominence,” says College of Architecture Dean Reed Kroloff. “His seemingly boundless curiosity, balanced by a rigorous devotion to research and teaching, meant that Professor Land and his students enjoyed the reciprocal joys of discovery and invention for decades. He will remain a model for those who succeed him here.”