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alter Burley Griffin, the eldest of four children, was born on November 24, 1876 in Maywood, Illinois. His father, George Walter Griffin, was an insurance adjuster; his mother, Estelle, was active in social organizations. Photo of childhood home.By the time Griffin was in high school his interest in landscape gardening had made its appearance. The family had moved to a new house in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst and Griffin was involved in landscaping the backyard. His parents let him do what he wanted and before long his brother and sisters were calling it "The Jungle" because he was experimenting with so many different forms of plants.

y the time he graduated from high school, Griffin pondered what he should study in college. His early interest in gardening steered him towards landscape design. Before making a decision he sought the advice of the greatly renowned landscape gardener, O. C. Simonds. To Walter's surprise, Simonds advised him not to study landscape gardening but instead follow a more lucrative career. So in the fall of 1895, Griffin enrolled in the Department of Architecture at University of Illinois. Still Griffin never gave up his previous interest. He was able to supplement his architectural work with classes in forestry and horticulture.

he University of Illinois was one of the two land grant universities to give degrees in architecture; the other being MIT. Photo of Nathan RickerThe architecture program was run under the strict guidance of Nathan Clifford Ricker who had started the program. Ricker was schooled in Germany and was very much interested in the technical aspect of architecture as opposed to simply the design aspect. This gave Griffin a very strong foundation in materials as well as in the practical aspects of architecture. Griffin's senior project was entitled "A Capitol Building." The actual plan has never been found.


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