Caudill Rowlett Scott, Architects (CRS) has been honored as the “Firm
of the Century” by Texas A&M University's College of
Architecture for being the firm that has most significantly influenced
the college in the last 100 years.
The award was presented the evening of April 1, 2005 to founding
members of CRS at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
during a gala that kicked off a year-long “centennial celebration” honoring
100 years of architectural education at Texas A&M and in
the state of Texas.
“Of all of the architectural firms that have influenced
the architectural education and research programs at Texas A&M
University in the last 100 years, none have had as profound an
impact on Aggie architecture as Caudill Rowlett Scott. In less
than a decade from its inception in 1946, CRS had gained national
prominence for its pioneering work in educational facility design
and innovative approaches to architectural programming,” stated
the certificate presented to members of the firm.
CRS components were acquired by other industry firms in the
mid-1990s, but the CRS Center, which was established at Texas
A&M in 1990 through a generous endowment by CRS, continues
with the purpose of advancing innovation and leadership in the
design and construction industry. At the same time, CRS endowed
the Thomas Bullock Chair in Leadership and Innovation, the William
Peña Professorship in Information Management, and the
Wallie Scott Professorship in Architectural Practice and Management.
“As professors, CRS founders William Caudill and John
Rowlett advocated the teaching of practice, an idea countering
the popular notion of the time that professors should not be
allowed to practice,” said Tom Regan, dean of architecture. “Further
bucking tradition, CRS eagerly published their research findings,
making them available to both clients and competitors. Today,
many CRS innovations are still commonly practiced and widely
taught in the classroom, including the building type specialist,
design by team, problem seeking, squatter's sessions, construction
management and fast-track construction.”
In 1946, Caudill and Rowlett, two architecture professors at
Texas A&M, became partners and founded the architecture firm
of Caudill and Rowlett in Austin. To start the firm, the two
men combined their readjustment allowances from the Navy, a sum
of $1000, which also represented the total assets of each partner.
After a difficult first year, in part due to the nation's slow
readjustment to civilian activity after WWII, Caudill and Rowlett
relocated their office to College Station. In 1948, Wallie Scott,
Caudill's former student, joined the partnership and the firm
became Caudill Rowlett Scott, Architects. The same year, William
Peña, another former student of Caudill and Rowlett, became
the fourth partner of the firm but requested to leave the firm's
The firm landed its first project in 1948 with an elementary
school in Blackwell, Oklahoma. Through this project, CRS pioneered
the revolution in schoolhouse design that would come into fruition
across the United States during the 1950s. The Blackwell school
project was also significant because it was here that CRS developed
the “squatter” technique. Because of the long commute
between the project site and the firm's office, a lot of time,
energy, money and ideas were wasted. To conquer this problem,
the partners set up a temporary office and “squatted” at
the school site until all the design issues with the school board
were resolved. This idea was so effective that CRS incorporated
it in their future projects.
In the following years, CRS expanded steadily and became known
for its expertise in school design. In 1952, Rowlett opened the
firm's first regional office in Oklahoma City, and in 1957, the
firm opened another office in Corning, New York. The same year,
CRS became one of the first architectural firms to incorporate.
When the main office relocated to Houston in 1958, it was immediately
the largest architectural firm in the city, with seven founding
partners: Caudill, Rowlett, Scott, Peña, Tom Bullock,
Ed Nye, and Charles Lawrence. The eighth and last founding partner,
C. Herbert Paseur, was named in 1961.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the firm ventured into higher
education and health care facilities projects and began work
in Saudi Arabia. CRS Group, Inc., becoming CRSS in 1983 when
it acquired J.E. Sirrine, a process engineering company. Ironically,
William Caudill died the same year, without witnessing this last
transformation in what once had been a small town business to
the largest architecture-engineering-construction corporation
in the United States.
Accepting the Texas A&M College of Architecture’s
Firm of the Century Award on behalf of Caudill Rowlett Scott were
James Gatton, FAIA and member of the CRS Center Board of Directors;
William Peña, FAIA and CRS founder; Ava Scott-Demoplous;
Aleen Caudill and Thomas Bullock, FAIA and CRS founder.