Born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Benz earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Notre Dame, and a master’s degree in urban planning from Princeton University.
“My interest in transportation was stimulated by a college architecture studio project for the redevelopment of Chicago’s Near North End, which had as its centerpiece the downtown terminal of a proposed express train to O'Hare Airport,” Benz said. “Now, some 45 years later, WSP's Chicago office is involved in advancing that very project.”
While the upperclassmen on his team chose to design what they viewed as the “more glamourous vertical building elements” of the project, he was assigned the planning and design of the underground transportation terminal and the connections to the nearby subway and aerial rail transit stations.
“I found dealing with the functional requirements, scale of these facilities, and the effects they would have on tens of thousands of people per day exciting,” Benz said. “This exposure stimulated taking classes in transportation planning and engineering and pursuing a master's degree and research assistantship in the transportation program at Princeton.”
Even with his hectic schedule, Benz found time to give back to his community by volunteering for environmental, educational and humanitarian causes, including:
• Instituting an annual service event with Catholic Relief Services’ Helping Hands that funded and delivered over 66,000 meals for those suffering food shortages in Burkina Faso in West Africa, during his tenure as president of the Notre Dame Club of Maryland;
• Donating over 135 pints of blood and platelets to the American Red Cross over the past two decades;
• Fundraising and construction of a school expansion and church restoration for Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Glyndon, Maryland; and
• Volunteering in various maintenance activities for Acadia National Park through the nonprofit, conservation organization, Friends of Acadia, in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Benz looks back fondly on his 37 years with WSP.
“I have enjoyed working with smart, talented and committed people who share the values of this organization,” Benz said. “It has been a very rewarding career.”
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