John Finley Kirkpatrick
T/5 in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co C
Born 1912 in OH, Died 2002
County of residence at enlistment: Hamilton County, OH
Other residence(s): Cincinnati, OH; San Francisco, CA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: architects
College education before the war: Cornell 5 years; American Academy of Rome
John Kirkpatrick was born on February 18, 1912 in Cincinnati, OH, the younger of two children; his father was an independent tobacco broker. John graduated from Withrow High School in Cincinnati, and then went on to study at Cornell. He received a degree from Cornell in architecture in 1936 and a second degree from Cornell in landscape architecture in 1937.
While a student there, he won the Charles Goodwin Sands "First Medal," a prize for distinguished work given by the Cornell architecture faculty.
In his last year at Cornell, he was awarded the prestigious "Grand Prix de Rome" scholarship in landscape architecture by the American Academy of Rome. The prize came with tuition for two years of study, plus housing and travel expenses, and a generous stipend.
At the conclusion of his studies in Italy, he showed his work at the Academy's annual exhibit, an event opened by King Victor Emmanuel III on June 3, 1939. He returned to the states that summer, less than three months before the start of World War II.
He found work as a landscape architect in New York City, where he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. His father died while in Kentucky on tobacco business in January, 1941, and later that year John was working in Washington, DC. He was back in Cincinnati to enlist on October 22, 1942. Like many other artists and designers, he was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion, and saw service in Europe with the unit during the war.
After the war he went back to Cincinnati and early in 1946 began working as a landscape architect with the Master Planning Division of the Cincinnati City Planning Commission. He was also associated with the industrial design firm of Woodie-Garber. In the late spring of 1946 he married Iowan radio executive Harriet Parker Ristvedt; they would go on to have two children: Scott and Troy.
By 1948 he had taken a faculty position in design at the University of Cincinnati, College of Applied Arts. In 1948 he was also one of a team of six architects from Cincinnati who submitted a design for a memorial on the Mississippi in St. Louis. There were 147 entries, and Kirkpatrick's team won 4th prize (beating out many big-name architects including Charles & Ray Eames and Walter Gropius of The Architects Collaborative).
The first-place winner was Eero Saarinen, and of course his design was to become the iconic gateway arch in St. Louis.
John eventually joined the architecture and design firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and relocated with his family to San Francisco. During his career there he worked on a number of prestigious projects. He helped to design the Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs (a building recognized as the most visited man-made structure in Colorado) as well as President John F. Kennedy's master plan for the Washington Mall and Capitol Reflecting Pool. He also contributed to the master plan for the Big Sur Coastal Region, and won an award in 1969 from the California Garden Clubs for his design of Zellerbach Square in San Francisco.
He retired from Skidmore, Owings as an associate partner in 1972. He later became active in the Pacific Heights Residents Association, which honored him for his work in 1997.
John died on February 21, 2002 at the age of 90.
1937 photo (probably Cornell yearbook photo); see 1937 Cincinnati Enquirer link below
1912 Ohio birth index
1933 Cornell yearbook; glee club
1937 article in Kansas City Star (KS) re his scholarship to the American Academy in Rome
1937 article in Ithaca Journal (NY) re his degrees and American Academy scholarship
1937 article in Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) re his scholarship to American Academy
1939 article in Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) re his work exhibited at American Academy
1940 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1946 article in the Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) re his appointment to a position with City Planning Commission
1946 engagement announcement in Des Moines Tribune (IA)
1948 article in Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) re his winning a national architectural award
1969 article in Oakland Tribune (CA) re his award from California Garden Clubs
2002 obituary in San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
2002 Social Security applications and claims index