Richard Ernest Schmidt was born in Ebern, Bavaria in
1865 and emigrated to Chicago with his family the following year. In 1883 he enrolled in
the architecture program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but his studies
lasted only 2 years. He returned to Chicago and worked for various architectural firms
before establishing a practice in 1887 with Adolph A. Cudell. By 1895 he was on his own
and invited Hugh M. Garden to join the firm. Schmidt was known primarily as an engineer,
so the addition of Hugh Garden, who had previously worked for Sheply, Rutan and Coolidge;
Howard Van Doren Shaw; Henry Ives Cobb and Frank Lloyd Wright, provided the architectural
design element that was lacking in the firm.
The firm of Schmidt and Garden produced primarily
commercial buildings and public park buildings, and had planned over 300 hospitals. The
interest in hospital design is the result of Schmidt being the son of a prominent Chicago
doctor. The largest of their designs was the prairie-influenced original building of
Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Schmidt had also written a book on hospital design
entitled "The Modern Hospital".
In 1906 Schmidt and Garden added a third partner, Edgar
Martin. This partnership lasted for almost 20 years with some of their more well-known
commissions being the Montgomery Ward warehouse building on the Chicago River at Chicago
Avenue and also the Ambassador Hotel on State Street, also in Chicago. By 1925 Martin had
left the firm and was replaced with longtime employee Carl A. Erickson. Richard
Schmidt died in 1958.