EDWARD DURELL STONE, FAIA (1902-1978)
Stone was born in Fayetteville AR and attended the University of Arkansas studying Architecture. His older brother, James Hicks Stone, an architect in Boston, invited him to Boston where he attended the Boston Architectural Club (now Boston Architectural College), Harvard University, and MIT, but never received a degree. Eventually, he would receive five honorary degrees.
Between semesters at Harvard and MIT, Stone worked in the offices of Coolidge Shepley Bulfinch and Abbott, H. H. Richardson’s successor firm. Henry R. Shepley, one of the firm’s senior partners, mentored Stone and assisted him throughout his career.
While at MIT, Stone won the prestigious Rotch Travelling Fellowship which took him throughout Europe and North Africa for two years. In Europe he fell in love with Modernism. He was offered a job while in Stockholm at Schultze and Weaver and returned to New York City in October 1929, just before the Great Depression. He married Sarah Orlean Vandiver in 1931. They had two sons Edward Jr. and Robert.
Upon joining the firm; Stone designed the main lobby and grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. He then moved on to work in the offices of Reinhardt, Hoffmeister, Hood & Fouilhoux, who were among the architects associated on the Rockefeller Center project.
Stone was the principal designer on the Radio City Music Hall and the Roxy Theater (later called the Center Theater), and he worked in conjunction with interior designers Donald Deskey and Eugene Schoen.
His relationship with Deskey ultimately led to his first independent commission, a startling, volumetric 1933 Modernist house for Richard Mandel. The acclaim for the Mandel House led to other prominent residential commissions. Similarly, his work on the Rockefeller Center project also brought him the attention of Wallace Harrison and Nelson Rockefeller.
When the time came to choose an architect for the new Museum of Modern Art, Stone’s name was put forth by Harrison and Rockefeller over the objections of Alfred Barr, Jr., the Museum’s director. Stone was selected in association with Philip Goodwin, the only architect on the Museum board. It was at this point that Stone formally started his own architectural practice, opening an office in Rockefeller Center.
Stone was in the Army during WWII from 1942 to 1945, stationed in Washington DC where he was the Chief of the Planning and Design Section. His principal responsibility was planning Army Air Force bases.
Stone reopened his office in late 1945 in New York City and got mostly residential commissions. His success as a practitioner of Modernist architecture and his prominence as an academic connected him with Walter Gropius, Pietro Belluschi, George Howe, and William Wurster.
Stone designed the US Pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair. While it was under construction in 1958, Stone was featured on the cover of the March 31 Time Magazine. Through his relationship to Senator William Fulbright, he got the commission for the Kennedy Center in DC.
For the next twenty years, Stone designed buildings intended to reflect what he considered more universal values rather than what he called the “transient enthusiasms” of Modernism.
Stone attributed this shift to his second wife, Maria Elena Torchio, whom he met in 1953 and married in 1954. They had two children, Hicks and Maria, and in 1966 they had a very public divorce.