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COLLEY, RICHARD STEWART

COLLEY, RICHARD STEWART (1910–1983). Richard Stewart Colley, architect and city planner, son of Richard Bertram and Irene (Stewart) Colley, was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 18, 1910. Soon afterward his family moved to Yoakum, where he spent his school years. He entered the architecture program at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) in 1926 but left in 1931 without a degree. From 1931 to 1933 he worked with a former classmate, architect Rodolfo Garza Madero, in Monterrey, Nuevo León. In 1934 he joined S. C. P. Vosper, his former professor at A&M, and Raiford Stripling to work on the restoration of the eighteenth-century Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga Mission in Goliad for the National Park Service. In Goliad Colley met and married Margaret Hutcheson of Edna, Texas; the couple had two sons.

Colley moved to Corpus Christi in 1936 and worked for the architects Brock and Roberts until 1938, when he opened his own office. With the exception of an eighteen-month tenure as director of planning for the city of Corpus Christi (1944–45), he maintained an independent architectural practice until his death. His first two commissions were a Spanish Colonial Revival hacienda for Richard Hawn at the corner of Santa Fe and Hewitt (1939) and the Spanish Colonial Revival Sacred Heart Church on Comanche Street (1938–39). In these he demonstrated his interest in a regionally inflected modern architecture, although one still dependant on historic models.

During the 1940s he produced buildings, especially houses, that were simple and straightforward, stripped of historical detail but often bland. A more positive approach to modernism became evident in his work after 1949, as he began to respond to conditions of site and climate with the use of roof overhangs, sunscreens that doubled as wind baffles, building masses oriented to the prevailing breeze, integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, tropical plants, and provocative color combinations. The Trauerman (1949), Massad (1951), and Selby (1952) houses in Corpus Christi and the Stahl house (1951) in McAllen represent this tendency. During the 1950s the city of Corpus Christi commissioned Colley to design a series of buildings for a new municipal complex on Shoreline Boulevard. His designs, which included a city hall, a civic center and auditorium, and an exposition hall, were widely published in leading architectural journals. The works were hailed for their response to the climate of the Gulf Coast and for the architect's innovative structural solutions, such as his use of Lamella steel arches reinforced by concrete buttresses to span the 224-foot space in the civic center. Colley's major works in Corpus Christi include the D. N. Leathers Center II public-housing complex (1952), Memorial Coliseum (1953), the Hawn Building (1955), the Ada Wilson Hospital of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (1965), 4600 Ocean Drive (apartments, 1965–66), and houses for George S. Hawn (1952), William E. Carl (1956), and I. Guy Braselton (1957). Colley was also responsible for multiple buildings in McAllen, Victoria, Houston, and Dallas.

In the early 1950s he became interested in the lift-slab method of construction developed by the Southwest Research Institute and used by architect O'Neil Ford for the new Trinity University campus in San Antonio. Colley built a number of buildings in South Texas using the new method and helped to refine the process. The most important projects on which he and Ford collaborated were the Crossroads Restaurant at the Great Southwest Industrial District in Arlington (1957), Texas Instruments Technical Laboratories in Houston (1957), and Texas Instruments Semiconductor Building in Richardson (1958). In these Colley was responsible for the innovative integration of supporting structure and mechanical servicing.

In the 1960s Colley received a series of commissions to design further buildings for Texas Instruments, and he planned and supervised the construction of buildings in Argentina, El Salvador, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Japan. Among his other works were Richard King High School and the planetarium in Corpus Christi.

Colley was a member of the American Institute of Architects. In 1983 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Texas Tech University in recognition of his contributions to the architecture of Texas. He died in Corpus Christi on October 21, 1983, and was buried at Seaside Memorial Park and Mausoleum. After his death his firm was reorganized by his employees as Colley Associates.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Richard S. Colley, "Civic Buildings: Corpus Christi," Progressive Architecture 34 (February 1953). Corpus Christi Caller, May 9, 1950.

Mary Carolyn Hollers George

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Mary Carolyn Hollers George, "COLLEY, RICHARD STEWART," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcoay), accessed July 26, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.