The history of architecture degree programs in the United States is littered with stories of poor students and graduates, and some have been well-documented.
The best known of those stories are the cases of Alexander Graham Clark, the 19th century American architect who became the nation’s greatest architect.
In 1884, Clark graduated from Princeton University with a degree in architecture, but in 1892, he was rejected for a teaching position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because he did not have a bachelor’s degree in a subject he did research in.
Clark did not get a master’s degree because his dissertation was on a topic that was not relevant to his job description at MIT, according to The New York Times.
Clark, whose own degree is currently on the Princeton faculty, was never able to secure a teaching post.
Clark’s wife, Annie Clark, also graduated from Harvard and received a doctorate in 1891.
The couple’s son, Alexander Clark, was also awarded a bachelor of arts degree in 1893, and later earned a master of science degree in 1894.
But, in 1904, the Clark family was awarded a $2 million gift from the U.S. Treasury, and Clark’s son-in-law, William C. von Neumann (a.k.a.
Graham), was also granted a bachelor degree in 1905.
The Clark family is believed to have gotten the gift in honor of Von Neumans birthday.
A story told by William Clark is that he received a letter from von Neumens wife asking him to meet with her to see if he could get a teaching job.
The letter was dated August 3, 1905 and the Clark’s were in their first year at Princeton.
The school year started in October, and the year was filled with “magnificent scenery, beautiful architecture, the grandest buildings in the world, and a rich history,” the letter said.
“I would be delighted to accept the opportunity to learn more and teach the world to be proud of what we have built here.”
Clark had a great career in architecture and was considered a pioneer of the field, but his career was over in 1910 after a fatal car accident that killed his wife.
He died in a nursing home.
“A number of years later, I became a farmer, living in a small town in southern California,” Clark wrote in his memoirs.
“My husband, Alexander, was my mentor and friend.
I know he was happy and content to see me go on.”
He also wrote in the memoirs that he was “not much of a teacher” but was a “great friend” to his son, William.
Clark also died of lung cancer in 1943, and was buried in the Neumann Memorial Gardens in Princeton, New Jersey.
In 2018, the Princeton Architectural Association recognized the Clark-von Neumann architecture degree in honor.
Clark was a leader in his field of architecture, especially in the field of mechanical engineering.
He was also one of the most respected architects of his time, having built the United Nations Headquarters for the United Nation and built the Washington Monument.