Architectural Archives Oral History Project - Austin History Center

Architectural Archives Oral History Project

Architectural Archives Oral History Project

In 2015 the Austin History Center (AHC), with assistance from a grant from the Austin Foundation for Architecture, began conducting oral history interviews with Austin-area architects as one component of the AHC Architectural Archives' goal of preserving the city's architectural heritage. The objective of the oral history project is to capture information about the interviewee’s experiences in the field of architecture, their contributions to Austin's history and built environment and their thoughts on the growth and development of Austin that they have witnessed during their lives.

The first six interviews were conducted by Toni Thomasson in 2015 and 2016, an architect and volunteer at the Austin History Center. She interviewed the late Tom Shefelman, Bob Coffee, Evan Taniguchi about his father Alan Taniguchi, Donna Carter, Girard Kinney and Chuck Croft. This project is ongoing with the intention of conducting four to six interviews a year.

Listen to clips of the interviews or read the transcripts in their entirety below. If you are interested in listening to the oral history recordings in their entirety please visit the Austin History Center SoundCloud page.


Tom Shefelman
Tom Shefelman, PICB 22175

Thomas Whitehead Shefelman was an architect and artist, born in 1927 in Seattle, Washington. Shefelman came to Austin in 1951 to attend the University of Texas School of Architecture. He went on to study and receive a Master’s Degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. During the early years of his career, Shefelman worked for Keuhne Brooks & Barr and Fehr & Granger before opening his own firm, partnering with Alan Taniguchi. In later years he partnered with Jim Nix. Notable projects are the American National Bank (Starr Building), the first Waller Creek Master Plan, and the first Redesign of Congress Avenue. After retiring from architecture he and his wife, Janice, collaborated on a number of children’s books. Thomas Shefelman passed away on December 28, 2016.

Interviewed by Toni Thomasson on February 16, 2015. View transcript here.

Listen to Shefelman talk about his career.


Bob Coffee
   Bob Coffee, PICB 22176

Robert Franklin Coffee is an architect and sculptor, born in 1933 in Dallas, Texas. He received a journalism degree from the University of Texas in 1955. After a short stint working in journalism, he returned to the University of Texas and completed a degree in architecture. Coffee worked for Gene Wukasch in Austin and George & Oliver in Dallas while attending architecture school. After graduation he worked for the firms of Page Southerland Page and Coates & Legge. In the mid 1960s he established his own firm with Jack Crier - the firm eventually became Coffee Crier and Schenck. Coffee has worked on projects all over the state of Texas. Notable projects in the Austin area are the Austin and Dove Springs Recreation Centers, the United Way Headquarters, the Headquarters of the Austin Housing Authority, the East Austin Multipurpose Center and the Headquarters for McKinney Falls State Park. As a sculptor, Coffee completed the Texas Sheriff’s Memorial at the Texas Sheriffs’ Association and a lion for the Kabul Zoo in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is currently working on a sculpture of Leslie Cochran proposed to be located at the intersection of Sixth Street and Congress Avenue.

Interviewed conducted by Toni Thomasson on October 9, 2015. View transcript here.

Listen to highlights from the oral history interview.


Alan Taniguchi, PICB 22173

Alan Yamato Taniguchi was born in 1922 and grew up on a farm in Brentwood, California. Upon completion of high school he entered the University of California at Berkeley. His education was interrupted by World War II when his family was interned in Crystal City, Texas. Taniguchi went back to college after the war and graduated in 1949. After graduation he began working for Anshen and Allen in San Francisco, but by 1952 he had relocated and begun his own firm in Harlingen, Texas. In the late 1950s Taniguchi became associated with the University of Texas School of Architecture and in 1968 he became the Dean of the School of Architecture. In 1968 he also founded his firm of Taniguchi Shefelman Vacker and Minter. Notable projects were the Labor Building in Washington, D.C. which he worked on while working for the Austin firm of Brooks Barr Graeber and White, Wiess College at Rice University in Houston, the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana, the Clarksville Clinic and the Manchaca Road Brank Library in Austin. He was also the author of the original Town Lake Master Plan. (Interview was done with Alan’s son, Evan Taniguchi.)

Interview conducted by Toni Thomasson on November 9, 2015. View transcript here.

Donna Dean Carter was born in 1952 in Dayton, Ohio. She spent the majority of her life prior to college in Sudbury, Massachusetts. She has degrees from Yale University and the University of

   Donna Carter, 2012, PICB 22174

California at Berkeley. Following college graduation she moved to Austin and began working for Brooks Barr Graeber and White, which transitioned to Graeber Simmons and Cowan. Carter left Graeber Simmons and Cowan in 1981 and later formed a firm with Austin architect Ruth Parshall. Their partnership lasted about four years and Carter then formed a new firm on her own. Carter has been involved in many civic organizations including serving on the Downtown Revitalization Task Force, participating in the AIA RUDAT, serving on the Mueller Commission and the Texas Historical Commission. Notable projects are the Carver Library and Genealogy Center, renovations of City of Austin fire stations, the Haehnel Grocery Store, and plans for East 11th and 12th Streets.

Interview conducted by Toni Thomasson on May 10, 2015. View transcript here.

Girard Kinney, PICB 22179

Girard Kinney was born in 1943 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. After the war and his father’s completion of an assignment at the Pentagon, the family returned to Austin. Kinney grew up on Kinney Avenue in South Austin. After graduation from Travis High School he entered the University of Texas School of Architecture. While attending college he worked for the Texas Game and Fish Commission, Calcasieu Lumber Company, the Texas Theater on The Drag, various professors in the School of Architecture, and Eugene Wukasch. Later he worked for Brooks Barr Graeber and White and for Taniguchi Shefelman Vacker and Minter. His first firm, Billington Kinney Stone Partnership, was formed in 1978. That firm became Kinney and Stone, then

Kinney Kaler Sanders and Crews, and finally Kinney and Associates. Notable projects were Presidio Theaters, Fitzgerald Theaters, the Presidio Building, Echelon Office Buildings, Kaliedo Buildings, the Whisenhunt Theatre at Zachary Scott Theatre, and the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. Kinney has served on the City of Austin Design Commission, the Airport Advisory Board, the Mueller Commission, the Cherrywood Neighborhood Association, and Scenic Austin.

Interviewed conducted by Toni Thomasson on June 14, 2016. View transcript here.

Charles Croft, PICB 22182

Charles Benjamin Croft was born in 1927 in Enid, Oklahoma. He grew up in the East Texas oilfields and left in 1945 to attend the University of Texas at Austin. He enrolled in the College of Engineering. After serving in the Marine Corps in World War II, he returned to the University of Texas and enrolled in the School of Architecture. He graduated in 1953. Croft’s first job after college was with John Lynn Scott. That job was followed by one at Fehr and Granger. Croft then relocated to the Texas Rio Grande Valley where he worked with John York and then with Alan Taniguchi. He returned to Austin and worked for Jessen and Jessen briefly and then had his own firm for many years. Notable projects are Westlake High School and Robert Mueller Municipal Airport in Austin and Casa del Sol in Harlingen, Texas.

Interviewed conducted by Toni Thomasson on August 23, 2016. View transcript here.