Holabird and Roche

Project Overview


Holabird and Roche

William Holabird (left), Martin Roche (right)



Holabird & Roche was one of the most prominent Chicago firms during the time when the city dominated American architecture. Their firm, from the Chicago School architectural movement, was notable for early skyscrapers such as Chicago landmarks the Chicago, Marquette, Old Colony, and City Hall-County buildings. They met while working for William Le Baron Jenney, who is known as the “father of skyscrapers.”

William Holabird (9/1/1854-7/18/1923) was born in New York state, graduated from West Point and after graduation moved to Chicago. After the 1871 Chicago fire, the great rebuilding activity inspired him to be an architect.36 Holabird started out as a draftsman for Jenney. Martin Roche (8/1/1853-6/6/1927) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and his family later relocated to Chicago where he attended public schools and took classes at the Art Institute in his spare time. He was an apprentice to a cabinetmaker from the age of 14 and at age 18 decided he wanted to become an architect. Roche started working for Jenney in 1872.





Holabird founded the firm in 1880 with Ossian Simonds and Roche joined in 1881. The firm’s name changed to “Holabird & Roche” in 1883. Business was slow at first due to a virtual standstill in Chicago construction. Roche did furniture design in the meantime. Their first major commission was a two-story store and apartment building in 1885. Both Holabird and Roche were members of the Western Association of Architects and later gained fellowships with the American Institute of Architects.

Besides the Wesley Foundation, Holabird & Roche designed several other buildings on the University of Illinois campus that were completed during the 1919 to 1923 period, including University High School, the Horticulture Field Laboratory, and Memorial Stadium.

- Last Modified -March 14, 2017 - 2:55pm
- Author - SashaC