Walter Netsch in an undated photo
Walter Netsch in an undated photo

Architectural designer Walter Netsch can not practice architecture nor even refer to himself as an architect without risk of criminal prosecution by the state of Illinois.

Originally issued on Feb. 25, 1948, Netsch's license is listed by the state's Department of Professional Regulation as “Not Renewed.” The 87-year-old Netsch has failed to comply with Illinois' continuing education requirements for at least four years. He was granted a medical waiver in 2005 after filing suit against the regulators, but the state informed Netsch on March 26 of this year that it would no longer offer him this option. Netsch is in failing health and confined to a wheelchair due to partial amputations on both of his legs. A spokesperson for the state cites the fact that continuing education requirements for license renewal can now be accomplished online as a factor in declining to issue another medical waiver.

Netsch was a design partner for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he worked from 1947 until 1979. He designed the Colorado Springs campus of the Air Force Academy, including its acclaimed tetrahedron-based chapel, and produced the design concept for Chicago's innovative stainless steel and glass Inland Steel Building.

Netsch lives in an art-filled cubic townhouse on Chicago's North Side that he built in 1974 according to his Field Theory principals. The geometrically rigorous, if spatially confused, methodology produced little-loved buildings for many Midwestern campuses, including Northwestern, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago.

Although Netsch has no plans to practice architecture again, he has again filed suit to recover the professional status he held for almost six decades.