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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Modernist architect William Wayne "Bill" Caudill had a profound impact on the design and construction of schools and the acceptance of modern architecture in communities across Oklahoma and the nation. Although his professional practice was based in Texas, his early school designs in Oklahoma contributed to his world renown as an architectural innovator, author, and educator.

Caudill was born on May 25, 1914, to Walter H. and Josephine Moores Caudill in Hobart, Oklahoma. He received a bachelor's degree in architecture from Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in 1937 and a master of arts degree in architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1939. His thesis topic, a school building program for Stillwater, Oklahoma, was later partly implemented. After leaving MIT, he taught architecture at Texas A&M (College Station) and was research architect for Texas Engineering Station where he wrote the groundbreaking bulletin Space for Teaching (1941). It found a receptive audience after World War II as communities struggled with exploding school populations. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1942–44 and in the U.S. Navy in 1944–45. He married Edith Roselle Woodman in 1940. They had two children.

In 1946 he and John M. Rowlett started an architecture firm in Austin, Texas, subsequently moving to College Station where they also taught at Texas A&M. Caudill continued his research on school design. In 1948 Wallie E. Scott joined the firm, and it became known as Caudill Rowlett Scott and Associates and later as CRS. CRS briefly had a branch office in Oklahoma. In 1958 its headquarters moved from Bryan, Texas, to Houston. It became one of the nation's largest architectural and engineering firms.

The firm's early work included designing houses for the Mayfair Heights and Warr Acres developments in Oklahoma City. Caudill's reputation as an innovative school architect was launched after CRS–designed schools in Blackwell received national recognition. Decades later, in 2009 the National Register of Historic Places listed Houston, Northside, Parkside, and Washington elementary schools for educational and architectural significance. The firm also designed notable public and commercial buildings, hospitals, churches, and residences, including the Bettes Building in Oklahoma City's Classen Ten Penn Historic District.

While maintaining an active practice, Caudill served as director of Rice University's School of Architecture (1961–69) and as William Ward Watkins professor of architecture at Rice (1969–71). He wrote or co-authored twelve books on design and the practice of architecture. Caudill's numerous honors included election as a Fellow of American Institute of Architects (AIA, 1962) and posthumous induction into Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1983). In 1985 he became the first Oklahoman to receive AIA's prestigious Gold Medal awarded posthumously. Following Edith Caudill's death in 1973, the architect married Aleen Harrison in 1974. William Wayne Caudill died in Houston on June 25, 1983.

Susan Allen Kline


Jay Baker and Barrie Scardino, "Flying High and Fast: The Genesis of CRS," Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston 41 (Spring 1998).

"Caudill, William Wayne," Historical Directory of American Architects, http://public.aia.org/sites/hdoaa/wiki, accessed 28 May 2016.

William Wayne Caudill, "Space for Teaching: An Approach to the Design of Elementary Schools in Texas," Bulletin of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 12 (No. 9, 1 August 1941).

Susan Allen Kline and Cynthia Savage, "'A Romantic Modernist': William Wayne Caudill and the Work of Caudill Rowlett Scott in Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 92 (Spring 2014).

Mary Jo Nelson, "Famed Architect to Receive Posthumous Gold Medal," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 6 January 1985.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Susan Allen Kline, “Caudill, William Wayne,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=CA079.

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