A Tribute to Robert H. Street, AIA Emeritus
This week saw the passing of a great man who spent his life honoring and ennobling the profession of Architecture. In these few words I will attempt to pay tribute to Bob Street.
Bob was the product of an outstanding architectural lineage. His grandfather was the noted Chattanooga architect R. H. Hunt, who designed a number of notable structures including the Hamilton County Courthouse and the Second Presbyterian Church among others- all part of the Hunt Thematic District in downtown Chattanooga. Bob’s father Thomas carried on the tradition with his own practice there, and Bob and his younger brother Ed followed in this tradition of excellence.
Like so many others of the Greatest Generation, Bob’s architectural studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he participated in the liberation of Nazi Germany. He was also active in the Pacific Theater. After the war, he quietly came home, resumed his studies at Georgia Tech and began his own architectural practice in 1954. His brother Ed joined him after completing his studies at Cornell in 1960, forming the new Nashville office of Street and Street Architects.
Street and Street was a legendary firm in Nashville for 30 years, and its portfolio of work included significant commissions such as the Sarratt Student Center and Blair School of Music- and numerous other campus projects- at Vanderbilt University. The architectural community still marvels at Bob’s residence for Walter and Huldah Sharp, executed in the 1950’s but still fresh and groundbreaking today.
I was fortunate enough to join the Street and Street practice in 1983, and our firm is still powerfully influenced by its founders. We talk often here, especially with our youngest staff members, about Bob and Ed, telling stories of the way it used to be in architectural offices. Some of those stories are laced with humor. Often though, we also talk about the nobility of this profession we call Architecture, and the sense of ethics one absolutely must possess to be a truly good Architect. It is hard to imagine any better modelers of these qualities than Bob and Ed. They were both the most wonderful mentors I could have hoped for, and I will always be grateful.
It is fitting that we honor great men like Bob Street today. He so fits those qualities of his own Greatest Generation- quietly serving his country and then never talking about things I will never come close to experiencing. Then with that same sense of quiet grace, powerfully contributing to the quality of our built environment with works of architecture that still seem fresh and new today.
Bob, for everything you did for our community, for our profession, and for me: Thank you.
E. Baird Dixon, AIA