Frank D. Welch architectural records,
Frank Welch was born in Sherman, Texas in 1927. Welch enrolled at Texas A&M in the summer of 1944 as a liberal arts major. By the end of the first semester, he had decided to join the Merchant Marine in hopes of avoiding the draft. He trained on Cataline Island and made one cruise across the Pacific before the Japanese surrendered. Welch served roughly 6 months. Despite resigning from the Merchant Marine, Welch was called up for the Selective Service and served near Williamsburg, Virginia. After serving 18 months, he was discharged as a corporal.
Returning to Texas A&M, Welch enrolled as an architecture student. At the time, A&M was something of an outpost for modernism. It was the first architecture school in the region to adopt the modernist style developed at the Bauhaus in pre-war Weimar Germany. Welch earned his bachelor's degree in architecture from Texas A&M in 1951. He received a Fulbright Scholarship in France for 1952-53 where he spent time photographing people and street scenes in Paris. These photos and others taken on a second visit in 1978 have since been published in Texas Architect (Sept/Oct 1981) and exhibited in galleries and museums across Texas. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art.
After returning to Texas, Welch moved to Houston in 1955 and went to work in the offices of Hamilton Brown and Thompson McCleary. Welch also met pioneer Texas architect O'Neil Ford, later that year. Despite Ford's lack of formal professional training, he had helped establish Texas modern regionalism and pioneered experimental, modern structures.
This meeting with Ford was pivotal for Welch. Ford offered him a job in his partnership with Corpus Christi architect Richard Colley. Working with Ford inspired Welch's own style. Welch worked with the pair until 1959 when he accepted his first solo commission remodeling the home of John and B. Lee Dorn in Midland. He set up his practice in Odessa for over a year before moving to Midland.
Welch has designed close to 1,000 projects, both built and unrealized. Among Welch's most notable early projects are the Forest Oil Building in Midland (1974), the Forest Oil Field Headquarters Building in Odessa (1976) and several residences, including The Birthday on Dorn's Sterling County ranch (1966). Other well-known projects include the Sarofim Residence in Houston (1973), Los Patios in San Antonio (1971, 1976), and the Shamoon Residence in Dallas (1985). His un-built projects include the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti (1980) and designs for Pershing Square in Los Angeles (1998), a finalist in an international competition.
In addition to his architectural practice, Welch has contributed original writings on notable architects, including an article for Texas Architect on Joseph Esherick and a foreward to Mike McCullar's biography of Raiford Stripling, Restoring Texas: Raiford Stripling's Life and Architecture (1985). Welch's own book on Philip Johnson, Philip Johnson & Texas, was published in 2000. Welch has been an active jurist and guest lecturer. He has served as an adjunct professor at multiple institutions, including Rice University, University of Houston, University of Texas at Arlington, and University of North Texas. Welch has been the recipient of multiple awards and his work has been published extensively.
A Fellow of the AIA since 1980, Welch opened an office in Dallas in 1983 and permanently moved there in 1985. Welch continues to be active in his firm.
The Frank Welch Architectural Collection represents a comprehensive documentation of Welch's firm spanning a period of over 50 years of practice (1959-2012). In November 2011, the Alexander Architectural Archives acquired an initial donation from the firm Frank Welch & Associates. This donation consisted of research and reference materials, both manuscript and photographic, and oral interviews pertaining to Welch's book Philip Johnson & Texas (2000). Another, considerably larger donation was received by the AAA in May 2012.
Current processing shows the Frank Welch Architectural Collection to include 150 linear feet of manuscript and photographic materials, 649 rolls or drawings (approximately 29,000 sheets) and approximately 10,000 slides of architectural projects. The majority of these manuscript materials are project files - called client files by Frank Welch & Associates - and specifications. These begin in the 1960s and continue through the next four decades and into the first decade of the 2000s.
Professional papers include original research and writings, correspondence, clippings, association and committee papers, jurying and teaching materials, and award entries. Office records are represented by business correspondence, phone message and work order books, and reference files. These include information on other architects and firms as well as architectural, landscape, and decorative resources. Personal papers are limited almost exclusively to correspondence.
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Frank D. Welch architectural records, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
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