The Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed posthumously on an individual who has recently passed away and who, during his or her life, achieved personal success, made an outstanding contribution to his or her chosen field of endeavor, and achieved recognition by his or her colleagues.
B.S. Architectural Engineering (’48), University of Illinois; Harvard University Graduate School of Design (‘48–49); M.S. Architecture (’54), Illinois Institute of Technology
Lempp Kerbis started her professional career in 1954 as one of the few women architects working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. She designed the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Mitchell Dining Hall and considered the one-day raising of the building’s roof a career highlight. In 1959 she moved on to Naess & (C.F.) Murphy, where she designed one of her best-known and best-loved buildings: the Rotunda Building at O’Hare. She started her own firm in 1967—Lempp Kerbis & Associates, the first woman-owned and operated architectural firm in Chicago. Lempp Kerbis also had a distinguished teaching career, serving as associate professor of architecture at William Rainey Harper College for more than 25 years and lecturing at universities around the country.
Lempp Kerbis has a long list of honors and awards to her name, including a 1965 Honor Award by American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago for the Rotunda Building at O’Hare and a 1976 AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Award for her Greenhouse Condominiums. In 1974 she founded Chicago Women in Architecture, an organization that continues to this day. She was a member of the AIA and, in 1980, became the Chicago chapter’s first female president; in 1970 she was the tenth woman ever made an AIA fellow. Additionally she was one of the first women voted into membership at the formerly all-male Cliff Dwellers Club and eventually served as the club’s first female president. She experienced one of her proudest moments at age 82 when she became the third recipient and first woman to be awarded the AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Sarah Rogers Morris, past associate director of the Mies van der Rohe Society, nominated Lempp Kerbis for her pioneering work in a male-dominated profession. Lempp Kerbis’s son-in-law Clark Bender says, “[She] became an architect at a time when most women in the field were either receptionists, secretaries, or relegated to the interior departments despite their qualifications… Modern architecture made its mark on [her] and, in return, she left her mark on it.”
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Register for the 2017 Alumni Awards luncheon and ceremony.
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