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 Phillip Rollfing  

First Aggie architect

Giesecke named Distinguished Alumni
by A&M Former Student Association



At Texas A&M University’s spring 2006 commencement ceremonies, the Association of Former Students presented a posthumous Distinguished Alumni Award to Frederick E. Giesecke, who founded Texas’s first formal architectural education program 100 years ago at what is today Texas A&M University.

The program began with the introduction of a brand new curriculum in architectural engineering, which was developed and taught by Giesecke.

A wunderkind of the first magnitude, Giesecke, was a product of the A&M Corps of Cadets. An excellent student and former captain in the Corps, he joined the A&M faculty after graduating in 1886 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

He was only 17 years old!

Within two years, at age 19, he was appointed head of A&M’s Department of Mechanical Drawing. He completed a Mechanical Engineering degree at A&M in 1890, and in the ensuing years, while still on the A&M faculty, he studied architectural drawing at Cornell University and architectural design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology — where he earned a degree in architecture in 1904.

It was upon returning to College Station that Giesecke developed a curriculum in architectural engineering. He served as head of the A&M architecture program until 1912 when he took a job as professor of architecture at the University of Texas. There, until 1920 he engaged primarily in research as head of the Division of Engineering’s Bureau of Economic Geology and Technology.

In 1924, Giesecke earned his fourth degree, a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Then, in 1927, he returned to Texas A&M as head of the Department of Architecture and the official college architect. Within a year, he was named head of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station.

He was, without question, the first Aggie architect.

Through 1939, Giesecke designed and supervised the construction of many campus buildings that are still standing today, including the Academic Building, the Chemistry Building, the Williams Building, Cushing Library and Hart and Walton halls.

He was the first head of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station and he led the formation and drafted the constitution of the first Alumni Association, the forerunner of The Association of Former Students.

Giesecke’s life was characterized by his desire to learn by study, experimentation and observation. His daily notebook contained an entry from an experiment he was conducting just two hours before he died of a heart attack on June 27, 1953.

In 2004, Giesecke was posthumously honored as an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Architecture. Following in Frederick Giesecke’s footsteps, as Aggies and designers who contributed significantly to Texas architecture, were his son-in-law, Preston Geren, Sr., Class of 1912, and his grandson, Preston Geren, Jr., Class of 1945. This year, Preston M. Geren, Jr. established a lecture series at the college in Giesecke's name.

More information about the gift that Preston M. Geren, Giesecke's grandson, gave to the college this year:
Auditorium name honors 'first family' of Texas architecture


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Frederick E. Giesecke, founder of Texas's first formal architectural education program.

Frederick E. Giesecke as a cadet

Frederick E. Giesecke