George Qualls was born in Oswego, KS, and served in the U.S. Army infantry between 1943 and 1946, fighting in the battle of the Bulge. By the end of the war he had attained the rank of sergeant and was awarded the Purple Heart. After returning to civilian life, Qualls began his architectural training at the University of Oklahoma in 1948, but left Oklahoma to complete a B.Arch. at North Carolina State University in 1950. After completing his degree at North Carolina, he was given a post as instructor there for the academic year 1950-1951. Qualls enrolled in Harvard's Graduate School of Design in the fall of 1951. He completed an M.Arch. there in 1952, closely following his future partners Robert Geddes and Melvin Brecher. Qualls made his way to Philadelphia after graduation, recruited by Geddes at the behest of G. Holmes Perkins, on the recommendation of Stanislawa Nowicki (who had taught at North Carolina while Qualls was there and who had herself recently joined Penn's faculty), as part of the new young and talented faculty Perkins was assembling in his re-making of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Fine Arts. Qualls continued as a professor of architecture at Penn into the 1990s.
After arriving in Philadelphia, Qualls joined the office of Vincent Kling. In 1956, Qualls was invited to join Geddes & Brecher three years after they had first formed a partnership; Warren W. Cunningham (who had worked with Brecher in the office of Bellante & Clauss) was made a partner in the office in 1960. Qualls and Geddes would be the lead designers in the firm that has been recognized as one of the most significant contributors to the "Philadelphia School" in the 1960s and after.
Qualls joined the national AIA in 1956 and was named an AIA fellow in 1968. He was also a member of the National Academy of Design. He was a consultant to the Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Agency from the 1960s into the 1980s, and a member of Maryland's Charles Center Inner Harbor Design Review Board. He was an avid and talented watercolorist, and his paintings were exhibited at the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania in the 1990s.
Emily T. Cooperman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- National Academy of Design
- University of Pennsylvania
- Harvard University
- North Carolina State University
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