Rice University’s School of Architecture Turns 100
Anderson Hall photo by HESTER + HARDAWAY PHOTOGRAPHERS; exhausted student photo BY MAURICE MILLER
by Stephen Fox
Hall as it appeared shortly after the Stirling and Wilford alterations and additions in 1981. Right An unidentified student recovers from a charrette, Architecture at Rice 13 (1964).
Architecture schools look to the future. So it’s challenging when a school has to confront a major historical milestone such as its centennial. Rice University’s School of Architecture turned one hundred years old in September, as did the university of which it is a part. In September 1912, William Ward Watkin, the sole instructor in architecture, welcomed six students to the first class admitted to the William M. Rice Institute. Watkin had come to Houston in 1910 to represent the Boston architects Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, who planned Rice’s campus and designed its initial buildings. The university’s founding president, Edgar Odell Lovett, asked Watkin to remain at Rice and begin instruction in architecture. Following
Texas A&M University (1905) and the University of Texas at Austin (1910), Rice’s architecture program was the third to be established in Texas. Until his death in 1952, Watkin directed the department, organized the curriculum, hired faculty, and mentored students. He wrote for major U.S. architecture journals in the 1930s and published two books on church architecture. Watkin also had a professional practice: he was architect of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and co-architect of the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library, and the campus plan and original buildings of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Watkin’s students — Lenard Gabert, J. T. Rather, Jr., Stayton Nunn, Milton McGinty, Eugene Werlin, Claude E. Hooton, Harvin C. Moore, Hermon Lloyd, Bailey Swenson, Lavone Dickensheets Andrews, F. Talbott Wilson, S. I. Morris, George F. Pierce, Arthur E. Jones, and Ralph A. Anderson — led Houston’s architecture profession during the mid-century decades. Rice’s most celebrated graduate of the Watkin years was E. Fay Jones (MArch ’51). the post-Watkin era included two future presidents of the American Institute of Architects, John M. McGinty (1976-77) and Benjamin E. Brewer, Jr. (1988), as well as architectural historian Willard B. Robinson. Yet the architecture department struggled.
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