The philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus has passed away at the age of 78. Based in Chicago, during decades he has promoted and honoured the activity of all those who worldwide work to build a more beautiful and sustainable world.
A lover of Spanish and Portuguese heritage, thanks to his support and generosity in these last years those who practice the architecture, the urbanism and the arts and crafts of the diverse Iberian regions have been able in the last years to regain hope their knowledge and good practice can also be enjoyed by generations to come.
His dedication to the preservation of Spanish cultural heritage and traditions made him an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in 2015. The many initiatives which thanks to him have been developed in Spain to promote and honour artisans and architects still cherishing and preserving those traditions has awarded him recognitions from institutions such as Hispania Nostra and the EU-Europa Nostra Awards. His philanthropy has been internationally awarded by institutions such as the Society of Architectural Historians, the American Institute of Architects, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois and the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation, among many others.
To him we owe the creation in Spain of the National Directory of Traditional Building Masters, which gathers and provides visibility to the best masters of the building arts from the diverse Spanish regions that are still practicing their craft, a living heritage which conservation is severely threatened.
Also aimed at this, the Richard H. Driehaus Awards and the Donald Gray Grants for the Building Arts were created. These ones are yearly awarding the best artisans in this field and giving them support to train new apprentices who can keep their knowledge alive.
Thanks to him, those architects committed to the use of natural materials, to updating all-time solutions in order to achieve the so needed sustainability, and to drawing on the forms and techniques which preserve and give continuity to the particular character of each different place and region of our country have also received encouragement and support. These practitioners are currently recognised by the Architecture Competition which is developed with the collaboration of the Ministries of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda and of Culture and Sports, and by the Rafael Manzano Prize for New Traditional Architecture, addressed to those who have stood out for their lifetime achievements with those goals. It was named so after the only Spanish architect who has received the international Richard H. Driehaus Prize, the largest architecture prize existing in the US.
This continuous activity in Spain during the last decade has also included a number of other cultural projects: conferences, workshops, exhibitions, publications and other initiatives which have highlighted for both the national and international public those values which are often forgotten in the urban and cultural heritage we can find around us.
These initiatives will try to keep alive the legacy of this patron of the arts and will continue being dedicated to promote what became his passion and left his name linked to Spanish and Portuguese culture forever.