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Architecture alumnus honors mentors

Giving News

By Jamey Smith
Fred W. ClarkeFred W. Clarke, a 1970 graduate of the School of Architecture and a principal in the renowned firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, has contributed to the design of exceptional buildings throughout the world. Now he has made another contribution to the field of architecture that will endure, like his buildings, long into the future. It’s a gift to UT to endow two student scholarships. The endowments are in honor of former professors, both of whom Clarke says “embodied the passion and social commitment necessary in architecture.”
Clarke and his wife, Laura Weir Clarke, named the scholarships for Carl Bergquist, who died in 1994, and Alan Y. Taniguchi, who died in 1998. “Carl was an early influence as a drawing teacher,” Clarke says, “with great sensitivity to freshman students who had little knowledge or sophistication. He was patient, supportive, and highly talented, and esteemed among us all.” Laura also fondly remembers him as a neighbor and friend to her family.

Of Taniguchi, who served as the school’s dean from 1969 to 1972, Clarke says, “Alan was adamant that we understand the social responsibilities of architects. From him we learned that architects are entrusted with societal resources and must discharge our responsibilities with care and vision.”

Formerly known as Cesar Pelli and Associates, the New Haven, Connecticut-based Pelli Clarke Pelli recently updated its name to more accurately reflect the standing of Clarke, who co-founded the firm with Cesar Pelli in 1977. Clarke was still a student at UT when he first met Pelli, who had come to Austin for a year-end design review. “We had several good talks and he saw my work,” he recalls. “Then, to my great surprise, I was offered a job in the design department he was starting at Gruen Associates in Los Angeles in 1970.”

In 1976, both men left Gruen — Pelli to become the architecture dean at Yale and Clarke to teach at Rice. Their firm was born when they were chosen for the renovation and expansion of New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1977. Today, Pelli Clarke Pelli is an 80-person operation that works with corporate, government, and private clients to design buildings and public spaces of all types. In 1989 the firm earned the American Institute of Architects’ Firm Award in recognition of standard-setting work in architectural design. Clarke, an AIA Fellow since 1992, has been on the faculty of UCLA in addition to Rice, and has also served as visiting critic at Yale. He continues as guest critic at several major universities, including UT.

“I love all aspects of what I do, but particularly the diversity in building type and location of our projects,” he says. “Another rewarding aspect is the opportunity to work in my office with extraordinary people — colleagues, friends, and former students — and to see them grow and become successful in their own right.”

The Clarkes have two sons, one a graduate of Rice and the Rhode Island School of Design who works in the film industry, and the other a biology/pre-med freshman at Georgetown University. In addition to their UT gifts, the couple has endowed scholarships at Yale and given extensively to Rice and to New Haven’s Choate Rosemary Hall preparatory school. This gift will increase the School of Architecture’s roster of prestigious Endowed Presidential Scholarships from three to five, significantly enhancing its ability to reward some of its most talented and deserving students.

“I strongly believe that one of the most important periods in a person’s life is the time spent in college or university,” Clarke says. “We are imprinted in powerful ways affecting our view of the world, our sense of mission in life, and our lasting relationships with other people. Giving to these institutions that give so much to us is a direct recognition of the powerful role of education.”

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