Dallas "Visionary" and UT-Austin School of Architecture Dean Hal Box, 81, Died Sunday

Hal Box
Hal Box
Courtesy the University of Texas at Austin

Two years ago I posted a lengthy excerpt from the 1962 book The Prairie's Yield - Forces Shaping Dallas Architecture from 1840 to 1962, published by Reinhold in conjunction with the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Among its authors was Hal Box, who, at the time, was the namesake in the Dallas firm Pratt, Box and Henderson, which was responsible for, among others, the Apparel Mart, the Quadrangle Shopping Center, St. Stephens Methodist Church and Brookhaven College.

But Box, whose lengthy career included an apprenticeship with Texas legend O'Neil Ford, would put his career on hold in the early 1970s when he was approached by University of Texas at Arlington administrators to start an architecture school; shortly after that, UT-Austin asked him to come down and lead its School of Architecture -- but only if it met his myriad demands.

At the time, the school was severely under-funded and required dramatic new initiatives, new facilities, a library specifically for architecture, a larger budget for faculty and staff, and a dean's salary similar to those in engineering and law. All of his conditions were eventually fulfilled, creating an architecture school that became a leader among public universities and one that, in the past several years, has been the only public university to rank in the top 10 in the nation in its graduate and undergraduate programs.

That comes from UT-Austin's announcement, posted moments ago, that Box, dean emeritus of the School of Architecture, died Sunday at the age of 81. Many of Box's colleagues and former students have begun leaving their condolences and fond memories on this memorial page set up by the university. Writes Jim Steely, Class of 1985:

In my early driving years one of my favorite adventures was motoring IH35 in Dallas watching all those Trammel Crow buildings take shape as the Dallas Market Center. I later learned Hal designed many of those facilities and I imagine influenced Crow to extend the developer's design circles ever wider.

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