Frank Lloyd Wright, left with Kamphoefner, visited the School of Design at NC State University in 1950, one of school's many well-known guests such as Buckminster Fuller, Mies Van der Rohe, and Richard Neutra.
Kamphoefner put his personal label on each if his books (example supplied by Richard Hall).
HENRY LEVEKE KAMPHOEFNER, FAIA (1907-1990)
Kamphoefner was born in Des Moines IA and grew up in Sioux City IA. He graduated in Architecture from the University of Illinois and in 1931 received a Masters in Architecture from Columbia University. Kamphoefner said he was introduced to Modernism by Joseph Hudnut. He entered private practice in 1932 in Sioux City IA and developed a specialty in outdoor music pavilions. In 1936, he was associate architect for the Rural Resettlement Administration in Washington DC til 1937. From Washington, he moved west to teach architecture at the University of Oklahoma, 1937-1948.
In 1948, he was appointed first dean of the School of Design at North Carolina State University, a position he would hold until 1972. During that time, he elevated the school from obscurity to national prominence. A passionate Modernist, Dean Kamphoefner’s ultimate goal was “the development of an organic and indigenous architecture... to meet the needs and conditions of the southern region.”
changes at the beginning of his tenure were swift and effective. He
sacked most of the old faculty and brought in a new team including
Duncan Stuart, Lewis Mumford,
instituted a distinguished visitors program (see list at left);
raised admission standards; and placed the school on the leading
edge of Modernism. Throughout his administration, the school
expanded programs including a Department of Product Design in 1958
and a Graduate Program in 1968.
Kamphoefner had no problem connecting some of the best minds in the Modernist world. This photo is from 1951, taken through the window in Kamphoefner's house on Granville Drive by Hungarian photographer André Kertész. Includes from left to right: NCSU Faculty Cecil Elliott, Dean Joseph Hudnut of the Harvard School of Architecture, NCSU Faculty Siasia Nowicki, House & Garden Architectural Editor Katherine Morrow Ford, unknown, Henry Kamphoefner, NCSU Faculty Margaret Fitzgibbon, New York architect Abraham (Abe) Geller, and NCSU Faculty Jim Fitzgibbon.
In 1960, on the recommendation of Catalano, he hired 31-year-old Brian Shawcroft, an architect from the UK who just completed his Masters in Architecture at MIT and Harvard. A renowned photographer, Shawcroft closely shared Kamphoefner’s architectural philosophy and also never yielded to the eclecticism of postmodern trends. In 1988, the peppery Dean (now Emeritus) declared that Shawcroft’s “buildings provide the only good architecture in . . . [Raleigh] which is blighted by so much architectural trash.”
During his tenure from 1948 to 1972, he elevated NCSU’s program from complete obscurity to national prominence. A passionate and demanding Modernist, Kamphoefner reached out to architects of international reputation to both teach and speak in Raleigh. Frank Lloyd Wright visited the School of Design at NC State University in 1950 and was one of school's many well-known guests such as Buckminster Fuller, Mies Van der Rohe, and Richard Neutra.
Kamphoefner’s changes were swift and effective. He sacked most of the old faculty and brought in a new team including Matthew Nowicki, who designed Dorton Arena and gave Raleigh an internationally-known landmark. He hired George Matsumoto, who would become one of the state’s foremost residential Modernist architects; Terry Waugh, who became head of NCSU Campus Planning; Duncan Stuart; Lewis Mumford; James Fitzgibbon; and Eduardo Catalano, who put Raleigh on the map with his famous 1954 hyperbolic paraboloid house, now sadly destroyed. Other new hires included the Neutra-protégé Harwell Hamilton Harris, former Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas, and Robert Burns, whom Kamphoefner appointed as head of the Department of Architecture in 1967.
Kamphoefner raised admission standards and placed the school on the leading edge of Modernism. Throughout his administration, the school expanded programs including a Department of Product Design in 1958 and a Graduate Program in 1968. He connected some of the best minds in the Modernist world. One of Kamphoefner's greatest contributions to Raleigh's built environment was his way around the state's bureaucracy. His faculty, since they were technically on the state's payroll, were prohibited from seeking work on state-funded projects. Kamphoefner created partnerships and mechanisms where his faculty were hired as consultants by other design firms, opening the door to the design of hundreds of significant buildings by NCSU faculty.
Kamphoefner had an unparalleled impact on the architecture of North Carolina and the Southeast. He was awarded the 1978 North Carolina Medal and the 1977 Topaz Medallion for Lifelong Achievement in Architecture by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. In 1989, the NCSU School of Design named their 1978 addition, designed by Harry Wolf, as Kamphoefner Hall.
Yet, to Kamphoefner’s disappointment, Modernism fell out of favor, both with the public and the profession. Just two years before his death in 1990, he bitterly acknowledged Modernism’s fall, lamenting that prominent architects were “selling out for a neo-modernistic populism” and that the famous maxim of Louis Sullivan, “form follows function,” was being replaced by “form follows money.” To slow this movement, he established the Kamphoefner Prize, a gift of $150,000 to AIA North Carolina for career excellence in the Modern Movement of architecture. Kamphoefner, in his imitable directness, defined the criteria for this award very specifically: "The donors and the Selection Committee for this award anticipates that the chosen architect has demonstrated a consistent integrity and devotion over an acceptable period of time to further the modern movement in architecture without yielding to any of the undesirable current cliches, neo-modernistic mannerisms, or artless historicism that have flawed the building culture of today."
To counteract this movement, at least in part, he established the Kamphoefner Prize, a gift of $150,000 to AIANC from which they would award $10,000 each year to an AIANC member who exhibits excellence in the Modern Movement of architecture. Kamphoefner defined the criteria for this award very specifically:
"The donors and the Selection Committee for this award anticipates that the chosen architect has demonstrated a consistent integrity and devotion over an acceptable period of time to further the modern movement in architecture without yielding to any of the undesirable current cliches, neo-modernistic mannerisms, or artless historicism that have flawed the building culture of today."
Norman Pease, Jr.
In December 1983, Kamphoefner wrote an article on Buckminster Fuller in the NC Wataugan which was less about Fuller and more about recently "retired" Kamphoefner. Also includes comments on Fuller by his colleague T. C. Howard. Pages one, two, three, four, five, six, or the entire document (12 Meg).
Letters above courtesy of NCSU Special Collections.
1935 - The Grandview Park Band Shell, Sioux City IA.
It cost about $51,000 at the time.
1938 - The Oleson Park Music Pavilion, 1400 Oleson Park Avenue, Fort Dodge IA.
1942 - The Henry L. Kamphoefner Residence, 1111 South Lahoma, Norman OK. Sold to Gary Wren-Graham, Trustee. Sold in 2014 to David B. and Kelly Hames and repainted (last two photos).
1948 - The Henry and Mabel Kamphoefner House, 3060 Granville Drive, Raleigh. Designed with George Matsumoto. Built by J. M. Thompson. Charles R. Larson (Henry’s nephew) and his wife Roberta inherited the house and rented it out for a number of years. Architect Tika Hicks and Bryan Hoffman were among those renters; Hoffman did a restoration in exchange for a lowered rent. Sold to T. Connor Murray in 1996. Sold in 2000 to Daniel and Virginia Petrocella. In 2003, Kamphoefner’s protégé, architect Robert Burns, did a renovation and addition, built by David Ballard Construction. Deeded in 2009 to Daniel Petrocella.