Born in Bristol, England in 1874, Edward H. Bennett was one of the preeminent urban planners of the first half of the twentieth century. Yet, despite his co-authorship of the 1909 Plan of Chicago, Bennett remains largely forgotten in the history of architecture and urban planning. Bennett studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris between 1895 and 1902. After he finished his schooling, he moved to New York City, where he began his professional career with an apprenticeship in the office of architect George P. Post. Hearing of the young Bennett’s talents, Daniel Burnham invited him to Chicago to apply his talents to what would become their first collaboration: a 1903 plan for a design competition for the expansion of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Although their West Point proposal plan did not win the commission, this project cemented their relationship and Bennett’s role as a trusted collaborator with Burnham and other members of the firm. The two would later co-author the 1905 Plan for San Francisco and the 1909 Plan of Chicago, for which Bennett served as lead designer and project manager.
Bennett was still in an early stage of his career and was only thirty-five years old when the Plan was completed He remained with Burnham’s firm for a few years after 1909, departing to pursue an independent career as an architect and planner. Until 1930, he worked as consulting architect to the Chicago Plan Commission. Bennett produced city plans for numerous small municipalities near Chicago, including Elgin, Joliet, Winnetka, and Lake Forest. Further afield, he completed plans for Brooklyn, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Ottawa. Bennett maintained a national practice from his Chicago office, working with several partners, for nearly four decades after the publication of Plan of Chicago. The firm was known as Bennett and Parsons, 1919-1922; Bennett, Parsons, Frost and Thomas, 1922-1924; Bennett, Parsons and Frost, 1924-1938; and Bennett and Frost 1938-1944. William Parsons had relocated to Chicago after nine years in the Philippines, where he supervised the implementation of Burnham’s plans for Manila and Baguio City. The firm’s Chicago commissions included the Buckingham Fountain and several buildings at the 1933-34 Century of Progress International Exposition. Bennett chaired the board of architects who collaborated on the plans for the Federal Triangle in Washington, D.C. The design of the Apex Building, completed in 1938 at the western end of the Triangle, was his last major architectural project. Bennett closed his practice in 1944, prompted by the retirement and death of his partners. He died in 1954.
Burnham and the Philippines
Draper, Joan E. Edward H. Bennett: Architect and City Planner, 1874-1954. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1982.
Gordon, David L.A. “The other [sic] author of the 1908 [sic] Plan of Chicago: Edward H. Bennett—urban designer, planner and architect.” Planning Perspectives 25, 2 (2010): 229-241. http://www1.appstate.edu/~crepeaur/5420/gordon%20the%20other%20author%20...
Smith, Carl. The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Art Institute of Chicago. “Bennett, Edward H., Collection, 1901-1954.” http://digital-libraries.saic.edu/cdm/ref/collection/findingaids/id/14875
Lake Forest College. “Edward H. Bennett Collection.” https://www.lakeforest.edu/library/archives/exhibits/edwardbennett.php
Edward Bennett, “A Competitive Design for the Improvements at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.,” in American Architect, September 19, 1903, pl. 1447. Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago, RBA Digital File name 000000.C48633