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O'Neil Ford

Who Knew?

HiWorks is headquartered in a low brick building just east of the San Antonio International Airport. The building was marketed as being "designed by O'Neil Ford" But I always had my doubts. Although the details seemed similar to those of the Father of Regional Texas Modernism I could never find any proof that Ford was actually involved. It seemed far more likely that it was done in the "style" of Ford or by someone who once worked for him.

I was paying my rent this month and saw what appeared to be an original set of drawings. I looked and, sure enough, it was designed by O'Neil Ford's office. Apparently it was originally built as an office headquarters with an adjoining warehouse that has since been converted into additional office space.

At the end of the day the building isn't spectacular. Before I moved my office here I had driven past it countless times and never paid any attention to it. Still, now that I've worked in it for close to a year, I do find it contains subtle details that always make me smile.

I love the proportion of the tall vertical windows - both how they look form the outside and how they frame the view from the inside. The use of soft Mexican brick is a nice contrast to the rigid geometries of the overall building itself.

The building demonstrates that a building need not be loud in order to be good. It also shows that a good architect can make even a humble building great.

Being loud in the library

Photo by Katie Slusher. Courtesy School of Architecture Visual Resources Collection, The University of Texas at Austin

It's been a busy few weeks and I'm still catching up on things that happened last month.

At any rate, back on February 16th I had the opportunity to speak at the University of Texas at Austin. The Alexander Architectural Archive started this really cool program where they display some of the drawings in their collection for students (or whoever) to see. At any rate, this moth they displayed some of the original drawings of O'Neil Ford's Little Chapel in the Woods and they asked me to give a short talk about the building and its significance. 

Attendance was really good and although I'd like to think that had something to do with the content of the talk, the fact that there was free pizza was probably the real reason.