John W. Wright, Jr. was born in Elizabeth, NJ, to John Walter and Frances (Bains) Wright and moved to the Philadelphia region while in high school. He was a graduate of Cheltenham High and received his B.Arch. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1936. While at Penn, he won the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design's Archaeological Medal. His first professional position was as a draftsman with the Philadelphia Board of Education in 1937. He also worked for Thomas & Martin in 1938. Shortly after, he became a designer on the staff of Henry D. Dagit & Sons, rising to resident architect in 1939. Just before World War II he entered the office of Edward H. Wigham, where his Penn classmate and future partner Preston Andrade worked as office manager. He was made a junior partner in Wigham's office, supervising the work on the Boston Store and the Park-Holm Defense Housing in Newport, RI, from 1940 to 1942, when he left that office to serve as a marine electrical field engineer at the Philadelphia Navy Yard during the latter part of the war.
In 1945, Wright and Robert Bishop formed a partnership that lasted until 1951, when he left to join M. Ward Easby, Inc. as a specialist in the design and supervision of industrial plants. Wright taught construction at Penn between 1946 and 1949, and was a studio critic at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art in 1949. He began an independent practice in 1953, and was joined by William Amenta and Andrade the following year. John F. Gane was made a partner in Wright, Andrade, Amenta & Gane in 1961. The firm continued until about 1964 when William Amenta and Preston Andrade withdrew. Wright continued in partnership with Gane until 1969, when Wright formed the Wright/Klett Assocation with Bert Klett.
Wright joined the national AIA in 1946, and was an active member of the Philadelphia Chapter, serving as a director in 1965-6 and 1968-9, and as a member of several committees in the 1960s. He gained Emeritus status in 1976. Wright also chaired the advisory board on design for the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority from 1966.
In addition to serving as an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania from 1947 to 1948, Wright also worked as a lecturer at the Philadelphia College of Art from 1948 to 1949.
Sandra L. Tatman, and
Emily T. Cooperman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- Philadelphia College of Art
- University of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art
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