William Wayne Caudill, architect and teacher, was born on May 25, 1914, in Hobart, Oklahoma, the son of Walter H. and Josephine (Moores) Caudill. He attended Oklahoma State University (B.S. Arch., 1937) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M. Arch., 1939). He was a teacher, a proponent of architectural research and publication, and an innovator in the organization of professional architectural practice.
From 1939 until 1942 and again from 1946 until 1949 Caudill taught architecture at Texas A&M. From 1946 until 1949 he also was research architect at the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, where he coordinated work on optimizing natural ventilation and daylighting in school buildings. The results of this research were incorporated into buildings designed by the architectural firm that Caudill and John Miles Rowlett (1914–78) organized in Austin in 1946, moved to College Station in 1947, and reorganized as Caudill, Rowlett, and Scott in 1948, upon the admission of Wallie E. Scott, Jr. (1921–89) to partnership. Beginning in 1949 Caudill Rowlett Scott, as the firm was commonly called, produced a series of acclaimed school buildings that propelled it by the end of the 1950s to nationwide practice. In 1958 the firm moved its office from Bryan to Houston, where during the 1960s it developed an additional specialized practice in hospital design. Caudill Rowlett Scott's buildings received numerous state and national design awards. By 1969 Caudill had developed an international reputation as an authority on school design and had received commissions for schools, colleges, and universities from twenty-six states and eight foreign countries.
He served as director of the School of Architecture at Rice University from 1961 until 1969; from 1969 until 1971 he was William Ward Watkin professor of architecture at Rice. There he assembled a young and enthusiastic faculty and skillfully publicized the school by developing a visiting critic program, a student intern program, and a publication series, Architecture at Rice.
Caudill was the author or coauthor of twelve books, the most influential of which were Space for Teaching (1941) and Architecture by Team (1971). The latter is an exposition of his idea that comprehensive architectural services for complex building programs were more effectively provided by interdisciplinary teams than by single designers. This notion was reflected in the organization of Caudill Rowlett Scott and guided its development during the 1970s, when its range of professional services, numbers of employees, and volume of work increased until it became one of the largest architectural and engineering firms in the United States. In recognition of this professional entrepreneurship, the American Institute of Architects conferred its Architecture Firm Award on the partners in 1972.
Caudill was a member of the Advisory Committee on New Educational Media of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1966–68), a member of the Advisory Panel on Architectural Services of the General Services Administration (1966–69), architectural consultant to the Department of State on foreign buildings (1974–77), and a member of the United States Energy Research and Development Ad-Hoc Commission. He was a member of the board of directors of Herman Miller, Incorporated, and of the American Institute of Architects. Caudill joined the AIA in 1946, was elected to fellowship in 1962, and became the first Texas architect to receive the Gold Medal of the AIA, which was awarded to him posthumously in 1985. During World War II he served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers (1942–44) and the United States Navy (1944–46). He married Edith Roselle Woodman in 1940, and they had two children. After Edith died, Caudill married Aleen Plumer Harrison, in 1974. He died in Houston on June 25, 1983.