Recollection The Ur Building of Texas by Michael Malone, AIA
uring my junior year at Aurburn University, Stanley Tigerman, FAIA, came to lecture. He was very popular then, one of the leading postmodernist theorists and practitioners. His lecture surveyed several of his projects, many embodying his tremendous wit and playful attitude. At the end of the talk, Tigerman shifted away from his own work, describing his recent visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the incredible architectural experience he’d had there. He talked about his visit to the Kimbell Art Museum; he arrived by car, parked along the curb, and walked under the trees and across the lawn. He recounted making his way through the small yaupon grove, stepping carefully over the gravel and up onto the porch. He described the mystery of the interior spaces, the control of light and shadow, and the mastery of materials. He said this was real architecture, in the ancient, solid sense — and that we should all go and see it. I remember that lecture to this day.
In the summer of 1981, I moved to Houston as a newly-employed intern architect. At that time, the oil boom fueled the economy, and Texas was an active construction environment with architects from around the nation busy working here. I.M. Pei and Philip Johnson office buildings were springing up everywhere; the Graves showrooms for Sunar and Stirling’s architecture building at Rice had been completed; Venturi and Taft were also here. It was an architecture buff’s smorgasbord. Eventually, I made the trip to Fort Worth to see the Kimbell for myself. It was an overcast day, gray and threatening rain. I left Houston early with my friend, architect John McClellan. We parked along the curb and approached the museum following Stanley Tigerman’s itinerary exactly. I was not prepared for the intimate scale, nor for the way the building filled your view when you approached it perpendicularly from across the lawn. Stepping up on the porch was amazing, visceral; I can recall it exactly now, almost 33 years later. It was the way I would visit the
SKETCHES BY MICHAEL MALONE, AIA.
30 Texas Architect