McCormick Advisory Council Member Richard C. Halpern Dies

Richard C. Halpern, a leader and innovator of the construction industry and member of the McCormick Advisory Council, died peacefully on Sunday afternoon, July 3, 2011. He was 78.

During his 50-year career Halpern served as chief operating officer and chief executive officer for two global construction groups, including co-founding Chicago-based Schal Associates with Harold Schiff. With Schal, Halpern led the first foreign company awarded a construction contract in Japan following the international agreement to open this market to global competition. Most recently he was cofounder and chairman of the board of RISE International, a program management consulting company.

One of the leading builders of the modern era, Halpern was executive-in-charge of the construction of the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the world at the time of opening, in 1974. His other notable Chicago projects include Navy Pier; McCormick Place; the Harold Washington Library; the One Magnificent Mile Building; the Museum of Contemporary Art; the Boeing Building (formerly the Illinois Bell Building); the First Wisconsin Center, the tallest building in Wisconsin; and Ohio National Bank in Columbus. His pioneering efforts included introducing U.S. construction management techniques for successfully delivering projects worldwide, such as Broadgate, Victoria Station and Finsbury Avenue projects in London, and the Intercontinental Hotel on Tokyo Bay.

Halpern led a life of community service and philanthropy. As a mentor to professionals in the construction industry, he helped further the involvement of minorities. He vigorously promoted the first major affirmative action program for the Chicago building industry during construction of the Sears Tower (1970-1973). As an Urban League board member, he created its Affirmative Action Committee. Until more recent times when private entities have provided this service, the Urban League diligently served the industry by providing minority programs for many major projects in Chicago.

In addition to his service on the McCormick Advisory Council, he established the Richard C. Halpern/RISE International Distinguished Architect in Residence at McCormick in 2008.

"I've worked with architects my whole life, and I feel that Chicago certainly is a mecca for fine architecture in America," he said at the time. "The city needs a program that is managed by and housed in one of the top universities in the country. I think this architecture program will enable students at Northwestern to add to the quality of engineering and architecture throughout the United States and the world." This program helps prepare engineering students for building industry careers as architects, structural designers, builders, project managers, and developers.

Halpern has also served as an adjunct professor in the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Through his leadership, construction management and program management are now integral parts of the civil engineering and MBA curricula at McCormick and Kellogg.

Throughout his career, Halpern has received numerous awards and honors. Notable accolades have come from the Chicago Urban League, the Boy Scouts of America, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Brandeis University, the American Institute of Steel Construction and from Engineering News Record for his personal achievement on the Sears Tower project in Chicago.

Halpern was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 12, 1933. He received his civil engineering degree from New York University and is a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Halpern is survived by his wife, Madeline, his daughters, Susan Halpern Winstead and Rebecca Halpern; his son and daughter-in-law, Daniel & Mary Halpern; and his grandchildren, Megan and Nathaniel Winstead. A memorial service is being planned for early August in Chicago.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Richard C. Halpern/RISE International Distinguished Architect in Residence program at McCormick. Donations can be sent to:

Roger Williams
McCormick Development Office
Northwestern University
2020 Ridge Ave. 4th Floor
Evanston, IL 60208-4307

Please made checks payable to Northwestern University and in the memo area please write, "Architectural Engineering & Design." Donations can also be made to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, c/o Dr. Robert Wolff.