William Le Baron Jenney

William Le Baron Jenney (September 25, 1832 – June 14, 1907) was an American architect and engineer known for building the first skyscraper in 1884. In 1998, Jenney was ranked number 89 in the book 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium. Jenney was born in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, on September 25, 1832, the son of William Proctor Jenney and Eliza LeBaron Gibbs. Jenney began his formal education at Phillips Academy, Andover, in 1846, and at the Lawrence Scientific school at Harvard in 1853, but transferred to École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures (École Centrale Paris) to study engineering and architecture. In Paris he discovers the writings of Viollet-le-Duc and he will become one of his followers: "the research and discoveries of Viollet le Duc surpass anything that any other author has been able to write". At École Centrale Paris, he learned the latest iron construction techniques as well as the classical functionalist doctrine of Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand (1760-1834) - Professor of Architecture at the Ecole Polytechnique. He graduated in 1856, one year after his classmate, Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower. In 1861, he returned to the US to join the Union Army as an engineer in the Civil War, designing fortifications for Generals Sherman and Grant. By the end of the war, he had become a major, and was Engineer-in-Charge at Nashville's Union headquarters. After the war, in 1867, Jenney moved to Chicago and began his own architectural office, which specialized in commercial buildings and urban planning. During the late 1870s, he commuted weekly to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to start and teach in the architecture program at the University of Michigan. In later years future leaders of the Chicago School like Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, William Holabird, and Martin Roche, performed their architectural apprenticeships on Jenney's staff. On May 8, 1867, Jenney and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hannah Cobb, from Cleveland, Ohio, were married. They had two children named Max and Francis.
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