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Desmond graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans, earned a bachelor's degree in Architecture from Tulane University and a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied under William Wurster and Alvar Aalto. He was a Second Lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Madison and also seeing action at the Battle of Anzio.
After returning from WWII but before practicing architecture in Hammond, Desmond worked for Skidmore Owings & Merrill, in New York City; A. Hays Town in Baton Rouge; and the Tennessee Valley Authority, in Knoxville. Some of the buildings he designed or renovated include the LSU Union, the Louisiana State Library, the Baton Rouge Centroplex, the Pennington Bio-Medical Research Center, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Louisiana State Archives, and St. Joseph's Cathedral.
- "John Jacob Desmond". The Times-Picayune. March 20, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- Desmond, J. Michael. "John Jacob Desmond - Know Louisiana Cultural Vistas". 64 Parishes. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
- "Hammond honors work of architect John Desmond". The Advocate. April 25, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2020.