William B. Morris (b. 1927) was born and raised in Shaker Heights. Following a brief stint in the Navy near the end of the War, Morris enrolled at Cornell University in 1946 to study in the School of Architecture, earning his bachelor's degree in 1953. During his college years, he also studied in Europe (1951-52). Morris returned to Cleveland after graduation to start his architectural practice.
He has designed several modern residences of note in the area. One of the best is the Meisel House (1964), located in Pepper Pike. In a recent interview, Morris explained his design plans:
The site was spectacular, with a fine stand of trees and a small stream flowing through what would be their front yard. The first design looked like something I would have done at my architectural school in the 1950s. The client and I were both satisfied with it but the Architectural Board of Pepper Pike turned it down flat! Out of that experience came a much better house far more suited to the site with a far more exciting structural statement. The main body of the house is fra-in steel with a 12' overhang facing the front, hanging over the front yard stream. We were able, with judicious siting, to preserve all the major trees so that even today, after 50 years, there is a degree of privacy to the house that uses the trees as a successful screen to what has become something of a major road.
In 1965, Morris was commissioned by Willis Hale to build a house on seven acres in Moreland Hills on the Chagrin River overlooking the Metroparks Polo Fields. Most of land was on the flood plain, except for a small hill quite close to the road from which you could not see the river. Morris proposed to elevate the 2,200 square foot house (with an additional 3,000 square feet of deck) on concrete pillars next to the river. The front entrance is accessed by ramp, to accommodate a handicapped friend of the Hales. The home's dramatic relationship to the landscape is a trademark of Morris' work.
Morris earned the Cleveland Arts Prize in Architecture in 1983.