As far back as the 1920s, when the School of Engineering added a department of architectural engineering, there was a push for NC State to have a separate School of Design.
But it took almost two decades and a threat to establish an architecture program at UNC before NC State established its own School of Design, on this day in 1948.
The move came after countless delays and endless negotiations that at one point prompted the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects to demand that the program be transferred to Chapel Hill, according to Alice Elizabeth Reagan’s North Carolina State University: A Narrative History. But UNC President Frank Porter Graham refused, telling the architects that the university system’s plans assigned architecture to NC State.
A panel of deans at NC State recommended Henry L. Kamphoefner, a professor of architecture at the University of Oklahoma, to be the school’s first dean. Kamphoefner accepted, but only on the condition that he could replace 11 of the 15 faculty members already at NC State. Several students followed Kamphoefner to NC State from Oklahoma, including one named David George who will be featured in the summer issue of NC State magazine.
Kamphoefner wasted no time in making his mark at NC State, bringing the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller to campus to work with students.
“The new School of Design made a rapid impression on architecture in North Carolina,” Reagan wrote. “Eschewing traditional styles, including the popular southern colonial, the school endeavored to create a new, modern style for North Carolina and the South. Many North Carolinians expressed shock at the results, typified by Matthew Nowicki’s Dorton Arena and the Erdahl-Cloyd College Union on the campus.”