the david dillon papers
In February 2011, Sally Dillon generously donated David's archive to Special Collections of the University of Texas Arlington Library. The archive contains a broad range of materials from reporter's notebooks (see right), research materials, handwritten and edited manuscripts, publishing contracts, published articles, and recorded interviews. Though the Dillon Papers are currently closed to the public while they await full cataloging and processing, they will be a valuable source of information about the architecture of Texas and about architectural journalism itself.
Dillon came to Dallas in 1969 to teach English at Southern Methodist University after earning his PhD in literature from Harvard University. By 1976, he moved to journalism full-time and became an associate editor at D: The Magazine of Dallas where in 1980 he wrote a provocative cover-story, “Why Is Dallas Architecture So Bad?” about problems – and opportunities – in the world of Dallas architecture. In 1981 he moved to architectural criticism at the Dallas Morning News where he wrote more than a thousand articles before leaving full-time work for the paper in 2006. David covered both local and national architectural issues, and became a contributor to magazines like Progressive Architecture, Texas Architect, Architectural Record, and Metropolis. As his writing matured, he authored several books, including Cowboys Stadium: Architecture, Art, Entertainment in the Twenty-First Century (2010), Dallas Architecture 1936-86 (1985) and The Architecture of O'Neil Ford: Celebrating Place (1999). He was a Loeb Fellow at the GSD in 1986-87 and among his many awards, he won the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2000. Even after the Dillons left Dallas for Amherst, Massachusetts, where David taught architectural writing at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and at Amherst College, he remained the city's primary voice for what he described as an "enlightened vision" for Dallas and for Texas.
The premature loss of David in June 2010 was a blow to the region's architectural culture, a culture that David played a tremendous role in shaping. As Kevin Sloan recalls, David had "a voice that shaped, influenced and discussed a lot of things happening in Dallas." Through his papers, future generations will have the opportunity to investigate the issues that drove his career and shaped his critical voice.