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In Memoriam - Hal Box (1929-2011)

May 10, 2011

The UT Arlington School of Architecture community is saddened to note the passing of John Harold "Hal" Box, FAIA, who died on May 8, 2011.  Box served as the first Dean of the School of Architecture and Environmental Design at The University of Texas at Arlington, a program he created in 1971 and served until 1976.

Hal Box graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and apprenticed with architect O'Neil Ford.  He began his career in aircraft structural design during his years of service with the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps, and he subsequently served as Project Architect for Broad and Nelson Architects in Dallas.  Hal Box formed the design practice of Pratt, Box and Henderson Architects in 1958, and remained with the firm for twenty-seven years.  Among the projects undertaken by the firm was the Architecture Building at UT Arlington, home to the program he began forty years ago.

Hal Box's career in architecture education began in 1970, when The University of Texas at Arlington requested his assistance in establishing a school of architecture.  Box took a leave of absence from Pratt, Box and Henderson and served as chairman of the new Department of Architecture.  When the School of Architecture was approved two years later, Hal Box was named as its first dean.

After his tenure at UT Arlington, Hal Box became Dean of Architecture at UT Austin, a position he held for sixteen years.  After serving as dean, Box was selected as W.L. Moody Centennial Professor of Architecture, a position he held until his retirement in 1998.  Box was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and served on the national Board of Directors of the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.  On April 8 of this year, Box was named Dean Emeritus at UT Austin, a title held by only a select few at the university.

During the course of his career, Hal Box was recognized with numerous awards and professional honors.  He was inducted into the College of Fellows, American Institute of Architecture in 1971.  In 1999, UT Austin established the Hal Box Endowed Chair in Urbanism, and in 2003, Box received the UT Austin Texas Exes alumni association's highest honor, the Distinguished Alumnus Award.  Box co-authored The Prairie's Yield (Reinhold, 1962), The Work of Ricardo Legorreta (UT Press, 1990), and was the author of Think Like an Architect (UT Press, 2007).

"We're all saddened by the news of Hal Box's passing," said Donald Gatzke, the current Dean of UT Arlington's School of Architecture.  "As the first dean of the UT Arlington School of Architecture, his influence on the School as it was and is today is impossible to over estimate.  He set the direction and the character of the program which continues to guide us, as well as being one of the partners of the firm, Pratt Box and Henderson,  that designed the Architecture Building which continues to impact our lives on a daily basis.   With his subsequent deanship at UT Austin School of Architecture, he had an enormous influence on design education across the state and on a whole generation of current practitioners."

"Hal Box was the first Chairman of the the Department of architecture when we were in the School of Liberal Arts," said Lee Wright, Professor Emeritus at UT Arlington who has previously served as both Associate Dean and Interim Dean.  "Under his leadership we became a four year program, added the Masters Degree, were accredited by NAAB, and then became the School of Architecture where he became our first Dean. We did all this in about five years. His leadership started the tradition of excellence which has continued for over forty years. Many of the young faculty that he hired are still at UTA and continuing to contribute to this program.  Hal was not only a gifted and talented architect and educator, he had a great sense of humor and was a friend to all. We will truly miss Hal Box."

Of his own creative process, Box once said, "Ideas must be tested. Is it beautiful? Is it appropriate socially, aesthetically, and financially? Does it satisfy the ancient architectural test of providing 'commodity, firmness, and delight'? Will it have enduring value?"

Memorial services are planned for Friday, May 13 at 2 p.m. at St. David's Episcopal Church, 301 E. Eighth St. in Austin.


Hal Box

Hal Box (1929-2011)