Holabird & Root

The architectural firm now known as Holabird & Root was founded in Chicago in 1880. Over the years, the firm has changed its name several times and adapted to the architectural style then current — from Chicago School to Art Deco to Modern Architecture to Sustainable Architecture.

Tacoma Building (the tall building in the centre). Stereoscopic view by Benjamin W. Kilburn

Holabird & Root provides architectural, engineering, interior design, and planning services. It is Chicago's oldest architecture firm. The firm remains a privately held partnership currently operating with five principals and four associate principals.


The founders, William Holabird and Ossian Cole Simonds, worked in the office of William LeBaron Jenney. They set up their own independent practice, Holabird & Simonds, in 1880 when they took on the project for an extension to Graceland Cemetery, passed on to them by Jenney. In 1881, Martin Roche, who had also worked for Jenney, joined them as a third partner. After only working together on five projects, Simonds left the firm in 1883 to pursue a career as a landscape architect. Holabird, Simonds & Roche became Holabird & Roche. A few years later however, the firm once again collaborated with the ex-partner when, from 1889 to 1895, they designed and built Fort Sheridan, for which Simonds provided the landscaping.

Beginning with the Tacoma Building (completed 1889; demolished 1929), their first major commission, and the Marquette Building (1895), the firm became well known for its groundbreaking Chicago School skyscrapers. An enormously successful practice, they also designed large, ornate hotels across the country, including Chicago's Palmer House, with Richard Neutra in a junior role on the team. Their work was part of the architecture event in the art competition at the 1928 Summer Olympics[1] and the 1932 Summer Olympics.[2]

In 1928, after the deaths of William Holabird (1923) and Martin Roche (1927), the firm was renamed Holabird & Root.[3] The new firm was run by Holabird's son John Augur Holabird and John Wellborn Root Jr., who had both joined back in 1914. Under their leadership, the firm adopted an Art Deco style. The company name changed to Holabird, Root & Burgee for a while, and two further generations of Holabirds served as partners (up to 1987). Currently located in the Marquette Building, the firm is once again called Holabird & Root, though no one of either name is currently affiliated.


Marquette Building
Soldier Field
333 North Michigan Building
Daily News Building
Chicago Board of Trade Building


  • Blaser, Werner. Chicago Architecture: Holabird & Root, 1880–1992. Basel; Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1992.
  • Bruegmann, Robert. Holabird & Roche/Holabird & Root: An Illustrated Catalog of Works, 1880–1940. New York: Garland Publishing, 1991.
  • Bruegmann, Robert. The Architects and the City: Holabird & Roche of Chicago, 1880–1918. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.


  1. ^ "Holabird & Root". Olympedia. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Holabird & Root". Olympedia. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Noted Firm Changes Name," Architect and Engineer, May 1928, 110.
  4. ^ "Hotel Wausau". Wisconsin Historical Society. January 2012. Retrieved 2021-05-24.

External linksEdit

Category:Master Planning Category: Interior Design Category: Structural Engineering Chicago Category: Sustainable Architecture