Richard H. Driehaus (1942–2021)

by Pauline Saliga | Mar 12, 2021
John H. Nelson, Richard Driehaus, Pauline Saliga

On March 9 the Society of Architectural Historians lost a dear friend and supporter when Richard H. Driehaus passed away. Known for his shrewd investment skills that enabled him to found Driehaus Capital Management in 1982, Richard was also known for his generosity to a vast array of not-for-profit organizations that he supported personally and through The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, based in Chicago. Having grown up in the Brainerd neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Richard knew what it was like to be a person of ordinary means. That is exactly what propelled him to become a very successful self-made investment manager who was then able to support his many cultural passions, including architecture, architectural history, historic preservation, fashion, educational institutions, good journalism, accountable government and developing quality housing for people with economic challenges. Driehaus dreamed big and created whole institutions to share his passions, most notably The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, which has supported projects focused on the built environment, arts and culture, investigative journalism and government accountability, and economic opportunity for the working poor since 1983; The Richard H. Driehaus Prize at University of Notre Dame, which has honored traditional and sustainable architecture annually since 2003; and The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, which has focused on Gilded Age art, architecture and design since 2008. Richard’s generosity was bountiful, and his passion for his favorite causes was deep and abiding.

But he didn’t spread his philanthropy so widely that its impact would be dissipated. Quite the opposite. Driehaus was a rare philanthropist who understood that the most beneficial thing he could do in many instances was to provide general operating support for not-for-profit organizations so they could thrive while fulfilling their educational and advocacy missions. And he supported them for the long-term, both sustaining them and giving them the financial security to spark innovation. Like many other Chicago institutions, the Society of Architectural Historians was the beneficiary of Richard’s generosity, both in terms of multi-year grants his Foundation made to SAH and in terms of helping Charnley-Persky House become a better Gold Coast neighbor by underwriting its parkway garden and nighttime lighting. SAH was proud to give Richard Driehaus its 2016 Award for Excellence in Architectural Stewardship, citing:

“Few individuals have made as indelible a mark on Chicago and the world of historic architecture as has Richard H. Driehaus … We honor Richard’s enduring dedication to the preservation and enhancement of the built and natural environment with the SAH Award for Architectural Stewardship.”   

We will miss Richard and the many opportunities he provided to all of us to build strong communities, forge life-long friendships, and form indelible memories of his Gilded Age hospitality and generosity in the 21st century.

Pauline Saliga
Executive Director
Society of Architectural Historians and
Charnley-Persky House Museum Foundation

Photo: John H. Nelson, Richard H. Driehaus, and Pauline Saliga at the 2016 SAH Awards Gala in Chicago. Credit Anne Evans.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610