O'Neil Ford, Architect
Architecture
11 x 11, 304 pp.
25 color, 107 b&w photos. 17 line art. Apps. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 07/22/2013
Sara and John Lindsey Series in the Arts and Humanities
  cloth
Price:        $60.00

978-0-89096-433-0

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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1992 Publication Award, presented by the San Antonio Conservation Society

O'Neil Ford, Architect

Mary Carolyn Hollers George
Forewords by Boone Powell and Hugh A. Stubbins

Himself designated a National Historical Landmark by the National Council on the Arts, O'Neil Ford with his associates designed some of the most famous architectural landmarks in Texas and elsewhere in the nation: the Texas Instruments Semiconductor Building in Dallas, the Little Chapel in the Woods at Texas Woman's University, campuses of the University of Texas at San Antonio, Skidmore College in New York, and Trinity University, San Antonio. The list of credits goes on and on for this remarkable architect who brought an indigenous Southwestern flair to homes, public buildings, and businesses.

From the mid-1930s until his death in 1982, Ford was a pied piper for young architects, and the message he piped was always the same: sensitivity to the nature of materials the earth provided; concern for timelessness and the performance of a building over the long haul; adaptability to changing needs; and innovative approaches to budgetary constraints. In short, he advocated and practiced the building of structures that are expressions of something real and lasting. With 36 full-color photographs and 124 black-and-white pictures, this volumes lavishly illustrates his vision and his legacy.

O'Neil Ford was controversial, paradoxical, contradictory. No one who knew him or his work was lukewarm about him. Nor was he lukewarm about others. In his world there were only heroes and villains; the villains were the vulgarians. Ford, long considered a leader of the Modern movement in the Southwest, was grieved by the concept of architecture as a product of superficial fashion with current "vocabularies" and design by stylish formulae. Now, in the "post-Post-Modern" epoch, his words again ring fresh and true, and his culturally well-grounded architecture inspires anew.

Through extensive interviews with Ford and scores of others and using Ford's diaries (1951-82), Mary Carolyn Hollers George has traced Ford's life and work, as well as the cast of characters who peopled his world. His close, and eventually prominent, friends contributed immensely not only to his own development but to the artistic milieu of a budding Southwestern regionalism. Also part of the mix were the young architects who flowed through Ford's office, being inculcated with his ways of of dealing with materials and his belief in the unity of structural and architectural forms, and who are still influencing the design understandings of today.

Mary Carolyn Hollers George is associate professor of the history of art at San Antonio College. Holding a bachelor's degree from Mary Baldwin College and a master's from the University of Texas at Austin, she is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians and the author of two previous books.

What Readers Are Saying:

"The greatest value of George's book is its copiously detailed look at his earliest years and formative influences. . . . George offers some spendid background material on the architect's work with the new lift-slab technique developed by San Antonian Tom Slick; and the space-frame floor and hyperbolic paraboloid concrete canopy of the Texas Instruments semiconductor building in Dallas, engineered by Felix Candela."--Mike Greenberg

"The greatest value of George's book is its copiously detailed look at his earliest years and formative influences. . . . George offers some spendid background material on the architect's work with the new lift-slab technique developed by San Antonian Tom Slick; and the space-frame floor and hyperbolic paraboloid concrete canopy of the Texas Instruments semiconductor building in Dallas, engineered by Felix Candela." --San Antonio Express-News

 


"Major profiles of significant San Antonians are rare. This book succeeds on several levels: as a biography, as a coffee-table volume for architecture buffs and as a perceptive analysis of social and political life in San Antonio in the middle quarters of this century." --Recorder-Times (San Antonio)

"Like O'Neil Ford's architecture, the book by San Antonian Mary Carolyn Hollers George that bears his name aspires to the elegance of simplicity. The title: `O'Neil Ford, Architect." The cover: an unassuming snapshot of a closed door at Trinity University. Minimalist, to the point. Take the brass ring and pull that door open, however, and you'll find a complicated story. --San Antonio Light

"Mary Carolyn George's biography of O'Neil Ford is a masterpiece. It is an insightful, sympathetic, yet unsentimental account of the life of one of Texas' best-known 20th-century architects. Professor George has paid Ford the highest tribute a subject can receive from a biographer: She reveals Ford in all his complexity. . . . Mrs. George's delineation of this long-term relationship [with San Antonio], and how larger changes in the politics of San Antonio affected it, elevate the book beyond the strict limits of biography to present a place and an era with an understanding that makes for compelling reading." --Texas Architect

"Meticulously researched, this book is more a biography of Ford than a monograph on his work. The author captures Ford's pugnacious spirit and provides an overview of his career . . ." --Architectural Record

"At last we have the first full-scale biography of this remarkable and complex individual, whose architecture we might almost take for granted. Mary Carolyn Hollers George has researched her subject most thoroughly . . . Another strength of this biography is its grasp of the cultural and political milieu in which O'Neil Ford moved, won friends, and made life-long enemies." --Legacies

"O'Neil Ford enriched Texas architecture for 50 years, as much by force of personality as by the quality of his work. . . . Mary Carolyn Hollers George finally has got this magnetic and mercurial personality between hard covers. Her biography is meticulously researched and richly textured . . . a revealing, evenhanded biography that belongs in the library of everyone interested in 20th-century Texas architecture." --Dallas Morning News

" . . . part biography, part architecture, and part history, the history of twentieth-century Texas and San Antonio especially." --Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"The colorful, paradoxical personality that attracted both clients and associates is as much a part of the Ford mystique as his work." --Cite

"As Mary Carolyn Hollers George observes in her excellent biography of Ford, his architecture was `soft spoken and humble.' . . . With insight, acuity, and clear prose, George tells the story of a master storyteller." --Journal of the Society for Architectural Historians

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