School of Architecture

oral history of texas architecture project

Postwar architecture in Texas has as rich legacy.  In 1950, there were no Texas cities in the top 10 by population in the U.S.  – by 2000, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio had all made the list, more than tripling in size, and emerging as major centers of American enterprise and culture.  With this boom in capital and population, architecture and urbanism in Texas sped into high gear.

The Oral History of Texas Architecture Project to capture the experiences and wisdom of Texas designers, builders, and clients who were part of this period of tremendous growth and energy.  Recorded oral history is a crucial component in creating primary sources for future historians and practitioners to understand the dynamics and origins of place.

Completed interviews:

Frank Welch (2008) "When we would travel from west Texas to Houston … we would go through that central part of Texas … Fredericksburg, for instance before it became a tourist haven. We would see houses along the road or the highway, and I would stop and take pictures. I loved them, they were well proportioned, there was nothing fancy about them, there was no adornment, they were handsome to my eye. But I never became a vocal exponent of regionalism. I really couldn't explain it except it was fitting. I did realize at some point that these plain buildings that the settlers built in central Texas, as soon as they had some money they would fancy them up. So there was no moral, there was nothing virtuous about what they did initially. They just did what they could and I liked that. I once wrote that … good architecture should look inevitable. It doesn't furnish an argument for a style or an approach."

EG Hamilton, FAIA, founding partner Harrell & Hamilton, later Omniplan (2009)  "I believe architecture, number one, is about space.  The architect's obligation and goal is to create useful spaces that are well-proportioned.  And the second rule is to find the simplest way to construct these spaces.  The simplest way and the aesthetically most pleasing way to do so.   I think that form for form's sake is wrong, and does not produce lasting values.  I think that finding complicated ways to doing things is wrong.  I think that the best answers are the most direct and simplest answers.  So I believe in simplicity.  I believe that tastefulness is very important.  Given a choice between something in any style that's tasteful is better than any style that's bad.  Although I have only ever done contemporary, and only believe in contemporary, I would rather have a tasteful Georgian house than a tasteless contemporary house."

Clyde Porter FAIA, NOMA, IIDA, NCARB, Vice Chancellor Dallas County Community College District (2011) "There's something about construction and architecture that's indicative of war….You get out here, you're dealing with these contractors, sometimes it's like war.  So you have to develop a battle plan – you have to have a backup plan and of course you have to engage the enemy.  I don't want to decide that contractors are enemy, but it's kind of similar in nature.   So everything has to be managed.   You have to get people and resources together to define what you want, and after you define what you want, you have to make it work.  So that gave me that vision to be able to manage large programs, and coming into the college district was no exception to that."  Clyde Porter speaking February 4, 2011 on how his background in the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers has influenced his perspective on architectural practice.