AUSTIN, TexasLawrence W. Speck, dean of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, announced Monday that he is stepping down as dean. He cited his disappointment in circumstances he viewed as leading to the resignation of architects commissioned to design the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art on campus. He will remain on the UT Austin faculty.
Speck said he will remain in the post until a successor can be found.
"Stepping down as dean is not an act of reducing my commitment to UT," Speck said. "On the contrary, it is because of my love for this University and my commitment to its quest for excellence that I feel this is the right thing to do.
"As I return to my role as a regular faculty member, I will seek every opportunity I can to promote those standards of excellence in my teaching and other activities in exactly the same manner I admire in so many of my colleagues on this campus," he said.
"Larry Speck has been a remarkable force for the advancement of our campus during his years as dean," UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner said. "Though I accept and respect his decision, I do so with much regret. Now, it is important for us to find other ways to engage his considerable talent and commitment to the University."
The architectural firm of Herzog & de Meuron, based in Basel, Switzerland, resigned their commission as design architects for the planned Blanton Museum on Nov. 16. The architects indicated their decision was based on their judgment that it would not be practical to bridge differences over the interpretation of the project in the context of the University's Campus Master Plan. The plan was adopted by the UT System Board of Regents in 1996 to guide future development of the campus.
Herzog & de Meuron was awarded the commission to design the museum in December 1998. The museum has been scheduled to open in late 2002 and eventually will encompass approximately 150,000 square feet. Located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Speedway, the new building will enable the Blanton to exhibit a significant portion of its permanent collection, including the Suida-Manning Collection, featuring 700 works of European art from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Speck, the W. L. Moody Centennial Professor in Architecture, was appointed dean of the School of Architecture at UT Austin in 1993. He is a practicing architect with the firm Page Southerland Page, whose recent projects include the Barbara Jordan Passenger Terminal at the new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the award-winning Rough Creek Lodge and Conference Center in Glen Rose, Texas, and the Austin Convention Center.
Speck, who was founding director of UT's Center for the Study of American Architecture, served as the fourth dean in the history of UT's School of Architecture. His early initiatives included a stronger integration of the school's architecture and planning programs, a re-orientation of architectural history core courses to emphasize global architecture and a comprehensive effort to draw new computer technologies into applications throughout the school's curriculum.
Under Speck's tenure the school's endowment attracted significant new scholarship funds as well as endowments to support outstanding visiting professors. Speck said he considers the development of "an incredible new group of young faculty members who are destined to make this school even more outstanding" as one of his proudest accomplishments as dean.
The school's contributions to the UT Campus Master Plan, as well as its participation in interdisciplinary travel programs and joint degree offerings, emphasize a broader role of the school as a part of a large, multidisciplined community. Under Speck's leadership, the school developed a new bachelor of science degree in interior design. New Ph.D. programs in both architecture and community and regional planning stress academic depth as well as breadth, and underline the school's continuing and certain committment to the future of education and architecture.
Speck has served on several administrative committees including those of the Blanton Museum of Art, the University's Master Plan for campus development, the University's core purpose and core values committee, and the Texas Theme Iniative that created the idea for UT Interactive -- a giant open house this spring that showcased the extraordinary breadth and depth of UT Austin. In 1991, Architectural Digest selected him as one of "AD 100" -- a listing of the 100 foremost architects in the world.
He received a master of architecture degree in 1972 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor of science degree in art and design and a B.S. in management from MIT in 1971. He taught for three years at MIT before joining the UT Austin faculty in 1975.
NOTE to EDITORS: For more information, contact Lawrence Speck at (512) 471-1922, or President Larry R. Faulkner at 471-1232.