AIA Arkansas Blog


University of Arkansas Press Publishes Two Books in Collaboration with Fay Jones School of Architecture

The University of Arkansas Press in collaboration with the Fay Jones School of Architecture has published Architects of Little Rock: 1833 – 1950 ($34.95 paper) and Of the Soil: Photographs of Vernacular Architecture and Stories of Changing Times in Arkansas ($44.95 cloth).

Architects of Little Rock is a compilation of the stories of the architects behind the city’s important historic buildings. The authors, Charles Witsell and Gordon Wittenberg, are retired principals of the Little Rock architecture firms Witsell, Evans, and Rasco and Wittenberg, Delony, and Davidson, respectively.

The authors’ goal was to identify every person who practiced architecture in Little Rock during the period 1833 to 1950. Thirty-five architects are profiled, including the professionals behind the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Old State House, the Arkansas State Capitol, St. Andrews Cathedral, Little Rock City Hall, the Pulaski County Court House, Little Rock Central High School, Robinson Auditorium, and more. One of the goals of the project, according to the authors, is to bring attention to the historic buildings remaining in Little Rock and encourage appreciation of the city’s architecture.

Ethel Goodstein-Murphree, professor of architecture in the Fay Jones School, called Architects of Little Rock “a significant work of architectural scholarship that not only uncovers the design rationales and circumstances of production that influenced a wide spectrum of Little Rock architecture but also addresses the history of the architecture profession in Arkansas.”

The second architecture book, Of the Soil: Photographs of Vernacular Architecture and Stories of Changing Times in Arkansas, is based on photographs that author Geoff Winningham took during the 1980s when working with Cyrus Sutherland, then a professor of architecture in the Fay Jones School. Winningham and Sutherland traveled extensively throughout Arkansas, locating and photographing examples of southern vernacular architecture. Many years later, Winningham revisited the areas he’d been to long ago, hoping to find the original structures, and learning that many no longer were standing. He began talking to local people to document their memories of the old buildings, still standing or not, and these stories, joined with the photographs, are the basis for Of the Soil.

Winningham will be discussing and signing copies of Of the Soil on Oct. 4 at the Fayetteville Public Library and on Dec. 9 at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.

Winningham’s photography has been included in many major collections and published in numerous anthologies. He holds the Lynette S. Autrey Chair in the Humanities at Rice University.

Jeff Shannon, professor of architecture in the Fay Jones School and series editor of the collaboration, said, “I’m very pleased that we have introduced these two new books this summer to the growing list of projects produced by the collaboration between the Fay Jones School of Architecture and the University of Arkansas Press. Almost everyone will find something of interest in each of these volumes, and I hope our readers will give us their feedback.”

Architects of Little Rock and Of the Soil are the fourth and fifth products of the collaboration. Just Below the Line: Disability, Housing, and Equity in the South, by Korydon H. Smith, Jennifer Webb, and Brent T. Williams ($44.95 cloth), and LID: a Design Manual for Urban Areas, by the U of A Community Design Center ($30 paper), along with the documentary film Sacred Spaces: The Architecture of Fay Jones, written and produced by Larry Foley and Dale Carpenter ($19.95 DVD), have also been produced.

Peter MacKeith, the new dean for the Fay Jones School, and professor of architecture, said “It’s a pleasure to join my two colleagues in recognizing these new publications of the U of A Press. These books are largely the product of Jeff Shannon’s vision and effort, but I am committed to extending that good work and expanding our publication series with the U of A Press.”

The Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas houses professional design programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design together with liberal studies programs. All of these programs combine studio design education with innovative teaching in history, theory, technology and urban design. A broad range of course offerings equips graduates with the knowledge and critical agility required to meet the challenges of designing for a changing world. Their training prepares students with critical frameworks for design thinking that also equip them to assume leadership roles in the profession and in their communities. The school’s architecture program was ranked 19th in the nation, and the eighth best program among public universities, in the 13th Annual Survey of America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools, a study conducted in 2012 by the Design Futures Council.

The University of Arkansas Press, founded in 1980, is an academic publishing house that is part of the University of Arkansas. A member of the Association of American University Presses, it has as its central and continuing mission the publication of books that serve both the broader academic community and Arkansas and the region.