William “Bill” Louis Larson, FAIA, cofounder of DLR Group, died on June 29 at his summer residence in Pinetop, Arizona. He was 88. He maintained a home in Scottsdale, Arizona, and was a native of Nebraska and longtime resident of Omaha.
Larson was born February 25, 1924, in Blair, Nebraska. After graduating high school, he assumed the responsibility of the Greatest Generation, serving his country as a 19-year-old Navy aviator in the South Pacific during World War II. Following the war, he attended the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. This began a 50-year career as a gifted architect and entrepreneur.
Larson, along with Irving R. Dana, FAIA, and James P. Roubal. P.E., founded DLR Group in Omaha on April 1, 1966. They joined to form a new kind of architecture and engineering firm grounded in their shared ideals: quality, fairness, opportunity for professional growth, and ownership. DLR Group completed its first year of operation with 13 employees. By 2011, the firm employed 500 people in 20 offices across the United States and an office in Shanghai.
Larson was the design force for DLR Group during its early years. His vision and influence can be seen in the design of significant buildings in Omaha and across the Midwest. He retired from DLR Group in 1992.
Larson excelled at the profession. He was the consummate design professional, completely committed to elevating the human experience with a signature style and grace which earned the ultimate respect of his peers. In 1972, he achieved one of the design profession’s highest achievements: induction into the American Institute of Architects’s College of Fellows.