Arch B. Swank (1913-1999)


Swank, Arch B.

Variant Names

Swank, Arch B., Jr.
Swank, Archie B.

Personal Information

Birth/Death:    b. 02 June 1913 - d. 15 January 1999
Occupation:    American architect
Location:    Dallas, TX

AIA Affiliation

Member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 1946-decease
Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) 1970

Biographical Sources

American Architects Directories:
Biographical listing in 1956 American Architects Directory
Biographical listing in 1962 American Architects Directory
Biographical listing in 1970 American Architects Directory

Biographical Information:
Contributed by the Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas:
      Arch B. Swank Jr. (1913-1999) was one of the great innovative figures of Texas architecture. He was born in Wills Point, Texas. He graduated in 1936 as a member of the first class to complete Texas A&M's five-year architecture program. Upon graduation he moved to Dallas, where his professional career flourished.
      In 1937 he entered a partnership with O'Neil Ford. The two men worked together with a small group of artisans in a creative workshop, mostly designing residences and researching various aspects of construction. In 1939 he and Ford designed the "Chapel in the Woods" at Texas State College for Women (now Texas Women's University). The building, known for its embodiment of Regional Modernism, was the team's "first significant nonresidential commission."
      The partnership with Ford dissolved in 1941 when the Army required Swank's service as a commissioned officer in WWII. One year after his discharge, he entered a partnership with Roscoe DeWitt. The architectural firm of DeWitt and Swank emerged as one of the most successful in Texas after the war. Among their most prestigious jobs was the Preston Center branch of Neiman Marcus department stores (1952), which consisted of 63,000 square feet of luxury shopping space. In 1951 Swank was elected president of the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, promoting the importance of urban design and environmental causes. He returned to individual practice in 1952.
      Throughout his career Swank consistently sought out opportunities for innovation and collaboration with others. He worked frequently with O'Neil Ford in the 1950's and 60's. Under the name Associated Architects and Land Planners, Swank, Ford, Richard Colley and planner Sam Zisman designed the semiconductor complex in Richardson (1958) for Texas Instruments. The same team, joined by Mexican architect Felix Candela, also secured the project of the Great Southwest Corporation's industrial park in Arlington (1958). These projects are well known for their innovative hyperbolic paraboloid building structures.
      From 1955 to 1967, Swank oversaw the design and construction of United Presbyterian Homes, in Waxahachie, Texas, a housing program for needy children and the elderly. He continued to work on this project, designing additions for UPH until well into the 1970's. Kerr County commissioned other significant projects during this period, including the Correction/Detention Facility and the Courthouse Annex (1974-1979).
      He was married to Patsy Swank, an award-winning journalist, who has been recognized for her excellent coverage of architecture.

Related Records

Partner of O'Neil Ford
Partner of Roscoe P. DeWitt

Archival Holdings

The American Institute of Architects Archives
      Membership file contains membership application, Fellowship nomination, Fellowship publicity and photograph, request for emeritus (retired) status.

Alexander Architectural Archive, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas
      Arch B. Swank Jr. Collection, 1951-1979
Architectural drawings and reproductions, building specifications, financial documentation, correspondence, legal documentation, reports, photographic material, maps, minutes, creative works, printed material, and material samples document the Texas-based work of architect Arch B. Swank Jr. The records are accessible through a preliminary inventory that arranges them into three sub-groups: project files, professional files, and personal papers. Especially well represented are the project files of 65 architectural projects, arranged alphabetically; the bulk of these materials document the projects of the Great Southwest Corporation, United Presbyterian Homes, and Kerr County. The other 62 project files constitute only a few folders each. The roughly 8,000 unprocessed drawings (representing 323 projects) are the largest representation of a single physical form. Also included are files documenting Swank's affiliation with the American Institute of Architects including newsletters and conference papers of the national organization, as well as minutes and administrative records of the Dallas chapter, of which he was president in 1951. The collection is not fully processed.
      For more information https://www.lib.utexas.edu/about/locations/alexander-architectural-archives