Architect and business executive James M. Whitley was born on April 29, 1934 in Rochester, New York and raised in Warren and Cleveland, Ohio. Whitley’s father was a chemist; his mother an actress. He graduated from Kent State University in 1957 with his B.S. degree in architecture.
In 1963, Whitley founded Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC, a full service architectural and planning firm specializing in institutional design, sport facility design, and commercial housing design, where he has served as president and designer. He went on to expand the firm alongside his brother, William, and his sister, Joyce, and moved Whitley/Whitley Architects to Shaker Heights, Cleveland in 1969.
Whitley/Whitley Architects has provided a substantial amount of work in Cleveland and the State of Ohio for various city and state public agencies, as well as services for cities and community groups in cities throughout the United States, including Saint Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Gary, Indiana; Chicago, Illinois; Saginaw, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Rochester, New York; New York City, New York; Orlando, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Reading, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C. and San Diego, California. Whitley/Whitley was involved with work on Cleveland’s Tower City Center, the Cleveland State University Convocation Center, Lincoln Junior High School, the Lee-Harvard Branch of Cleveland Public Library, the Central Area Multi-Service Center, and the Cleveland Clinic Guesthouse development. Other projects have included Kent State University's Fashion Museum, Cuyahoga County Community College's Learning Center, and Cleveland’s John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. Whitley’s firm has also designed numerous housing units and worked on several rehabilitation projects.
Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC has received many awards and honors, including the Progressive Architecture Design Award, the HUD Biennial Design Award, Burlington Awards, the House and Home Award, the Ohio Prestressed Concrete Design Award, the Ohio Masonry Council/ASO Award for Excellence in Masonry Design, the Cleveland Chapter of Architect’s Building Design Award, the East Ohio Energy Conservation Award, and the ASO Honor Awards Certificate of Merit.
Whitley’s son, Kent, is a project manager and architect at Whitley/Whitley.
James Whitley was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 12, 2014.