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O'Neil Ford on Architecture

O'Neil Ford on Architecture

This collection of writings and speeches by Texas’s most renowned architect positions him among the leading midcentury modernist architects, including William Wurster, Louis Kahn, and I. M. Pei, who were his collaborators and intellectual peers.

Series: Roger Fullington Endowment in Architecture

April 2019
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280 pages | 5.5 x 8.5 | 5 b&w illustrations |

Acclaimed for his designs of the Trinity University campus, the Little Chapel in the Woods, the Texas Instruments Semiconductor Components Division Building, and numerous private houses, O’Neil Ford (1905–1982) was an important twentieth-century architect and a pioneer of modernism in Texas. Collaborating with artists, landscape architects, and engineers, Ford created diverse and enduringly rich works that embodied and informed international developments in modern architecture. His buildings, lectures, and teaching influenced a generation of Texas architects.

O’Neil Ford on Architecture brings together Ford’s major professional writings and speeches for the first time. Revealing the intellectual and theoretical underpinnings of his distinctive modernism, they illuminate his fascination with architectural history, his pioneering uses of new technologies and construction systems, his deep concerns for the landscape and environment, and his passionate commitments to education and civil rights. An interlocutor with titans of the twentieth century, including Louis Kahn and J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ford understood architecture as inseparable from the social, political, and scientific developments of his day. An introductory essay by Kathryn E. O’Rourke provides a critical assessment of Ford’s essays and lectures and repositions him in the history of US architectural modernism. As some of his most important buildings turn sixty, O’Neil Ford on Architecture demonstrates that this Texas modernist deserves to be ranked among the leading midcentury American architects.


2019 Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians Publication Award for Best Essay

2021 Citation from the San Antonio Conservation Society

Finalist, 2020 Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book, Texas Institute of Letters

  • Introduction: The Language of O’Neil Ford, by Kathryn E. O’Rourke
  • Part I. The Making of a Modern Architect
    • 1927. Architecture of Early Texas (with David R. Williams), Part 1
    • 1927. Architecture of Early Texas (with David R. Williams), Part 2
    • 1928. Architecture of Early Texas (with David R. Williams), Part 3
    • 1932. Organic Building
  • Part II. Growth and Synthesis
    • 1940. Review of Williamsburg—Today and Yesterday
    • 1951. O’Neil Ford Lectures on Slab Lifting
    • 1953. Statement on Behalf of the San Antonio Conservation Society
    • 1955. Imagineering
    • 1959. History and Development of La Villita Assembly Hall
    • 1960. Response to J. Robert Oppenheimer, American Institute of Architects Annual Convention
  • Part III. In and Against the World
    • 1964. Texas Idyll
    • 1964. The Condition of Architecture
    • 1965. History and Development of the Spanish Missions in San Antonio
    • 1966. Mr. O’Neil Ford’s Speech at the Sculpture and Environment Symposium
    • 1967. The End of a Beginning
    • 1968. Culture—Who Needs It?
    • 1968. Physical Planning versus or for the Individual
  • Part IV. Looking Back, Looking Forward
    • 1978. Foreword to Lynn Ford: Texas Architect and Craftsman
    • 1981. Lessons in Looking
    • 1981. Eulogy for Tom Stell
    • 1982. Foreword to David R. Williams, Pioneer Architect
  • Acknowledgments
  • Image Credits
  • Index

San Antonio, Texas

O’Rourke is an associate professor of art history at Trinity University. She is the author of Modern Architecture in Mexico City: History, Representation, and the Shaping of a Capital.


“Dating back to 1928, the collection traces Ford's evolution not only as an architect, but also an early proponent of preserving landscape and the environment, today called sustainable development.”
San Antonio Express-News

“[O'Neil Ford on Architecture is] an excellent argument for architects to take the time and effort in crafting their words in print and in talks, and for schools of architecture to teach writing as well was design.”
A Daily Dose of Architecture

“This tight little volume collects within one binding the significant writings and lectures of the daddy of Texas architecture…[Ford] had strong convictions and expressed them with a bold directness that contrasts sharply with the shrinking and diplomatic public faces that most architects, wary of offending clients by voicing views that might prove controversial, usually affect.”
Texas Architect

“These essays and lectures...enhance our appreciation for Ford's lifetime achievements and secure his place as an esteemed design professional...[O'Neil Ford on Architecture] makes clear the reasons many contemporary architects and designers, preservationists, conservationists, and those who love Texas architecture are still inspired by Ford and learn from him….To read Ford's words here is to see how his eclectic approach encourages our innate human capacity to observe and study our environment, a process that he was driven to teach others to pursue.”
Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“This much needed and timely collection of the work of Texas architect O'Neil Ford will help broaden the canon and deepen our understanding of modernism. Thoughtfully edited and introduced by Kathryn E. O'Rourke, it presents the thinking of an influential and prolific practitioner who has long deserved to be better known.”
Kathryn E. Holliday, University of Texas at Arlington, editor of The Open-Ended City: David Dillon on Texas Architecture


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca