Austin History Center

Sinclair Black Papers

An Inventory of the Collection

Collection Summary

Creator: Black, Sinclair
Title: Sinclair Black Papers
Dates: 1890-1976
Dates (Bulk): 1970-1976
Abstract: Sinclair Black is a professor at the University of Texas School of Architecture and an environmental and urban design advocate. The collection documents the planning and writing of the booklet Austin Creeks, the controversy surrounding the extension of the MoPac Expressway (Texas Loop 1) from US 290 to IH 35 in the 1970s, the Environmental Conservatory of Austin and Central Texas organization and the Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake) beautification efforts.
Accession number: AR.2013.004
Quantity: 2.6 linear feet (5 boxes, oversize photographs and negatives)
Location: Archives Stacks, Outer Vault
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Sinclair Black, a Tyler, Texas native, graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1962 and from the University of California at Berkeley with a Masters in Architecture in 1970. He began his architecture career with Austin, Texas firm Barnes, Landes, Goodman and Youngblood before opening his own practice in 1967. That same year he was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Texas School of Architecture. In 1978 he was promoted to Professor, a title he continues to hold today (2013). The partnership of Black, Atkinson, and Vernooy was founded in 1983. Black's area of interest continues to be the history and theory of urban design and true urbanism.

Black is an active practitioner of urban design with emphasis on streetscapes, mixed use buildings and renovation projects in downtown Austin. In Austin, Black is both professionally and personally involved with neighborhood groups and the downtown business groups and has worked throughout his career to facilitate consensus on a wide range of matters affecting the built environment.


McCullar, Michael. "Black's Blueprint: An Architect's Vision of Downtown." Third Coast (April 1985): p. 49-54.

University of Texas School of Architecture faculty page (Accessed: 12 February 2013)

Scope and Contents

The collection documents two project that Sinclair Black was involved in during the 1970s; the design, production and writing of the booklet Austin Creeks and the Coalition of Austin Neighborhoods' opposition to the extension of the MoPac Expressway (Texas Loop 1) from US 290 to IH 35.

The Coalition of Austin Neighborhoods records, dated 1975 to 1976, include brochures, petitions, press releases, newspaper clippings and letters written to by Austin citizens expressing their support or opposition to extending MoPac as well as the closure of several of the exit ramps. Many of the letters are addressed directly to Austin Mayor Jeff Friedmann and/or Austin City Council member Margaret Hofmann and document the differing opinions .

The Austin Creeks booklet was one of the outcomes a 1976 Austin Bicentennial Project to preserve, restore and enhance the creeks and waterways of Austin. The booklet also served as documentation of the Open Space plan proposed by the City Edges effort, a grant to study the open space potential of the creek system in and around Austin for which Black was the Project Director. Black was one of the primary text writers of the booklet and his students were responsible for the art work, photography, composition and paste up. Included are the materials created and used in the process of researching, writing and publishing the booklet and consist of sketches, photographs, logos, reports, various versions of the text, proofs of the images and maps.

The Environmental Conservatory of Austin and Central Texas was a group organized through the efforts of Black and others to bring attention to the environmental issues of Austin. Its attention was on the preservation of Austin's natural resources and maintenance of the environment despite continued growth and development. The materials from this group include the founding documents, minutes, agendas, reports, correspondence, and membership material.

In addition to his other environmental conservation efforts Black contributed to the joint efforts of others intent on the preservation of Town Lake. Some brochures, flyers, and newspaper clipping illustrate these efforts. He also had interest in the South Texas Nuclear Plant and collected news clippings about the unknown effects of nuclear energy. These areas, as well as the preservation of the Butler House on W. 11th St., make up the final grouping of materials.


Arranged into four series:
I. MoPac Expansion
II. Austin Creeks
III. Environmental Conservatory of Austin and Central Texas
IV. Other Interests


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Black, Sinclair.
Friedman, Jeff.
Hofmann, Margaret.
Austin Bicentennial Commission. Horizons '76 Committee.
Coalition of Austin Neighborhoods.
Environmental Conservatory of Austin and Central Texas.
Austin (Tex.)
MoPac Boulevard.
Town Lake (Austin, Tex.)
City planning--Texas--Austin.
Conservation of natural resources--Texas--Austin.
Nuclear power plants--Texas.
Traffic flow--Texas--Austin.

Related Material

General Collection

  • A 976.431 HA Harris, August W., III. Report on the Changing Faces of the Colorado River in Austin. 1984.
  • A 711.551 BL Black, Sinclair. A Public Interest Proposal for the City of Austin Municipal Complex. 1982.
  • A 711.558 AU Black, Sinclair. Austin Creeks. 1978.
  • A 711.558 SM Smith, Michael. Park and Open Space Acquisition for City Edges. 1974.
  • A 388.411 MO Wagner, Peggy. Mo-Pac Expressway. 1975.
  • A 388.411 Sk Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Study Design: MoPac Corridor, Austin, Texas. 1975
  • A 388.411 Mo MoPac Goodies.
  • A 388.411 AU Special Report on the Missouri Pacific Expressway. 1975.
  • A 388.11 SK Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. MoPac Environmental Design Study, City of Austin. 1976.

Austin Files

  • AF Biography: Black, Sinclair.
  • AF Subject: Architects-Black, Atkinson, Vernooy A5600 (24)
  • AF Subject: Highways-MoPac Expressway H0900 (2)
  • AF Subject: Creeks C9060

Archives & Manuscripts

  • AR.2006.042 Juanita S. Goodson Papers
  • AR.2007.003 Old West Austin National Register Historic District Records
  • AR.2002.024 Richard Moya Papers

Sinclair Black's professional materials are archived at the Alexander Architectural Archive, The University of Texas at Austin.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Materials donated by the creator.

Preferred Citation

Sinclair Black Papers (AR.2013.004). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1974/011

Donation Date: 2013, 2018

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults in 2013. Additions added by Rusty Heckaman in 2013. Additions added by Kelly Hanus in 2018.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. MoPac Expansion, 1975-1976

Box Folder
1 1 Brochures, internal correspondence, press releases and petitions, 1975-1976, undated
2 Letters to mayor and city council, 1975-1976
3 Newspaper clippings, 1975-1976, undated

II. Austin Creeks, 1890s-1920, 1970-1976

Box Folder
1 4-5 Sketches and logos, circa 1974-1976
6 Assorted research and production forms, 1975-1976, undated
7-8 Text and typesetting instructions, circa 1975-1976
9 Open Space Preservation report, 1970
City Edges Project, 1970s
Box Folder
3 1 Correspondence, 1974
Subject Files, 1970s
Box Folder
3 2 Assorted articles & photographs, 1970s
3 Attitudinal survey, 1974
4 Austin environmental survey, 1970s
5 Bicentennial projects, 1975
6 Citizens Board of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality, 1974
7 Colorado River, 1973
8 Community Design Center, 1974
9 Data collection, 1973
10 Flooding information, 1972-1974
11 Harpers Creek, 1973-1976
12-14 NEA grant information, 1973-1975
15 "Natural Processes" rough draft, 1970s
Box Folder
4 1 Open Spaces plan, 1973
2 Public relations, 1973
3 Proposals, 1973
4 Recycling, 1970s
5 Study of Open Space for Travis County, 1974
6 Texas Highway Department building site study, 1972
7 Tree ordinance, 1974
8 Trees, 1970s
9 Urban design perfomance budget - Dallas, 1973-1974
10 "Urban Structure" rough draft, 1970s
11 Wildlife, 1973-1974
Photographic images, circa 1890s-1920, 1970s
Box Folder
1 10-13 Photographs, circa 1890s-1920, 1970s
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W negatives drawer Negatives, circa 1970s
qAR box Oversized photographs, circa 1970s
qAR Negatives Proof pages, circa 1970s

III. Environmental Conservatory of Austin and Central Texas, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1973-1975

Box Folder
2 1 Minutes, Agendas, Notes, and Reports, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1974, 1975, undated
2 Membership forms and rosters, 1975, undated
3 Correspondence, 1973-1975
4 Design ideas and plans, undated

IV. Other Interests, 1971-1975

Box Folder
2 5 Town Lake brochures, flyers, newspaper clippings, 1974-1975, undated
Box Folder
5 1 Butler House preservation, 1971
2-3 Nuclear energy, 1972