University of Texas, Alexander Architectural Archive

Sinclair Black:

An Inventory of his Drawings and Architectural Records, 1984-1986

Collection Summary

Creator: Black, Sinclair, 1940-
Title: Sinclair Black (1940-) Drawings and architectural records, Civic projects for the city of Austin
Dates: 1984-1986
Abstract: Black (1940-) taught design courses at the University of Texas School of Architecture (1967-) and founded Austin architectural firm of Black, Atkinson, and Vernooy, specialists in individual building and urban design. The collection includes Black, Atkinson and Vernooy's project files (3 linear feet) and 2,000 drawings representing projects (unbuilt) in Austin, Texas: Austin Municipal Office Complex (1984-1986), City Hall (1984-1986), Sesquicentennial Park on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol (1985-1986).
Identification: BLACK 1989007; 1990007; 1982004; 2002013; 2007035
Quantity: 2,000 drawings 3 linear feet of architectural records 31 photographs
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Alexander Architectural Archives, The University of Texas at Austin.

Biographical Sketch of Sinclair Black

Sinclair Black was born in Tyler, Texas in 1940 and grew up in San Antonio. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Architecture in 1962 from The University of Texas, and his masters degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970. He worked as a design architect for the Austin firm of Barnes, Landes, Goodman, and Youngblood before joining the University of Texas School of Architecture (UTSOA) faculty in 1967. In his design courses Black emphasized revitalization of center city areas for residential and pedestrian use and the role of the public and private sector in urban planning and development.

Black established his own architectural practice in Austin in 1967. The partnership of Black, Atkinson, and Vernooy (BAV) was founded in 1983. Both Black and Atkinson specialized in individual building and urban design. Vernooy, an engineer, specialized in building construction and construction administration. Projects completed by the firm include the Austin Nature Center, Administrative Headquarters for the Texas Commission for the Blind, and the Castellina Townhomes. AIA Award-winning designs include a National Award for the North Austin Center, State and Chapter Awards for the Cedar Street Courtyard and the McElhenny residence, and Chapter Awards for the Moore-Flack house and the Saunder's residence. The firm disbanded in 1987.

Black's interest in urban development is demonstrated in his writings and projects which include; studies of the San Antonio River Walk and the Austin Warehouse District, creating an Austin business district trolley, limiting the height of downtown buildings in Austin, and a plan for beautifying Congress Avenue north of the Texas State Capitol. In 1984, Black's architectural firm received the best of show award for its design of the Austin Municipal Office Complex (MOC). The complex, on the shores of Town Lake, with City Hall as its centerpiece, included a hotel, shops, plazas, pedestrian tunnels, fountains and trees. The project's purpose was to create a pedestrian-oriented central hub for a revitalized downtown. Due to political and financial problems the project never progressed beyond the planning stage.

Black's civic activities in the Austin area earned him two Austin Community Foundation Awards in 1982. He was instrumental in establishing the Environmental Conservancy Group to acquire land for Wild Basin Park, and he served on the Environmental Resources Board. Black co-authored the book Austin Creeks, a comprehensive study of Austin's natural waterway systems. This project, originally funded by an NEA grant to the UTSOA, was sanctioned by the City of Austin and the National Bicentennial Commission as Austin's bicentennial gift to the nation. The creek plan called for protecting and enhancing existing waterways for preservation, recreational use and flood control. City and national funding for the project led to completion of the Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail, development of the Glenn Oaks Greenbelt on Boggy Creek, extension of the Stacy Creek Trail, and initiation of the redevelopment of Waller Creek.

Black served as Vice President of the Texas Society of Architects in 1986, and was named AIA Fellow in 1984.


Lake, Julie. "Through the Eyes of Sinclair Black." Austin (July, 1984): p. 87-94.

Sinclair Black's Resume

-Kathy Martinson

Scope and Content of the collection

The project file for the Austin Municipal Office Complex (MOC) maintained by the architectural firm of Black, Atkinson, and Vernooy (BAV) consists of correspondence, printed material, clippings, handwritten notes, sketches, drawings, and photographs. Covering the period from 1984-1986, the files highlight the MOC design competition, BAV's winning design entry, Austin City Council actions, developer submissions, and design team proceedings.

The records document developer Watson-Casey Co.'s project-planning activities and project joint venture financing between Watson-Casey and the City of Austin. Phases of planning for the complex covered in the files include site planning, traffic considerations for both pedestrian and street traffic, archaeological site survey requirements and various technical concerns. Clippings chronicle BAV's design entry, council actions, project financing and the developer selection controversies.

The 2,000 drawings contained in the collection document both the Austin Municipal Office Complex and Sesquicentennial Park. The types of drawings represented include a vast range of design sketches, competition renderings, site development drawings and working drawings. Neither of these projects were built.

-Kathy Martinson


Policies Governing Use and Access

This collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using archival materials. As all or portions of this collection may be housed off-site, advance notice of at least three working days is required for retrieval. Certain items may require additional time for flattening or humidifying before they can be viewed. Access is by appointment only. Please contact the archives' reference staff for further information.

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasions of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person).

The Alexander Architectural Archives operate in accordance with applicable federal or state laws and regulations, providing unrestricted access to university records not covered by state and federal right to privacy acts.

The Alexander Architectural Archives, The University of Texas Libraries, and The University of Texas at Austin, assume no responsibility for infringement of literary property rights and copyright or for liability to any person for defamation or invasion of privacy that results from a researcher's use of collections.

Researchers agree to indemnify and hold harmless The University of Texas at Austin, and their officers, employees, and agents from and against all suits, claims, actions, and expenses arising out of use of collections held by the libraries. Please alert staff if anything inappropriate is found during research.

Copyright interests in this collection may not have been transferred to the University of Texas. Researchers assume full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply. Additionally, the public use of material must be cited. See citation information below.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Texas Online Catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Black, Atkinson, and Vernooy.
Black, Sinclair, 1940- --Archives.
Austin Municipal Office Complex.
Sesquicentennial Park (Austin, Tex.)
Texas State Capitol (Austin, Tex.)
Public buildings--Texas--Austin.
City planning--Texas--Austin.
Landscape architecture--Texas--Austin.
Document types:
City planning drawings.
Architectural drawings.
Competition drawings.
Landscape architecture drawings.
Presentation drawings.
Working drawings.

Administrative Information


Sinclair Black (1940-) Drawings and architectural records, 1984-1986, Civic projects for the City of Austin, the Alexander Architectural Archives, the General Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin

Processing Information

Lila Knight, 1989; other material by Kathy Martinson, March 1993.

Processing is not completed. Please see Archive's staff for more information.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished inventory in Archive.

References to works by or about Sinclair Black

"Austin Chapter AIA Awards for Design Excellence." Texas Architect 27, no. 6 (November/December 1977): p. 68.

Black, Sinclair. Austin Creeks. City of Austin, 1978.

Black, Sinclair. "Dream Scheme for Austin Creeks." Texas Architect 26, no. 6 (September/October 1976): p. 15-8.

Barna, Joel Warren and Tilley, Ray Don. "Design for Children: New Public Interest." Texas Architect 39, no. 5 (September/October 1989): p. 24-35.

"Design Awards, Texas Architect." Texas Architect 29, no. 1 (January/February 1979): p. 54-5.

Lake, Julie. "Through the Eyes of Sinclair Black." Austin (July 1984): p. 86-94.

"A New Old House." Texas Architect 23, no. 5 (September/October 1973): p. 11-4.

"Prospects for Downtown Austin." Texas Architect 31, no. 3 (May/June 1981): p. 36-45.

"Solar Heat for a House in the Hills." Texas Architect 27, no. 3 (May/June 1977): p. 51.

"Texas Society of Architects Design Awards." Texas Architect 33, no. 6 (November/December 1983): p. 72.

"Winners Announced in Austin City Hall Competition." Texas Architect 34, no. 3 (May/June 1984): p. 24-6.

Ydoyaga, Ray. "Civic Identity in the Land of the Laid Back." Texas Architect 35 (May/June 1985): p. 54, 58-9.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series A: Austin Municipal Office Complex (MOC) Job Files

Series Abstract
The project files consists of correspondence, printed material, clippings, handwritten notes, sketches, drawings, and photographs.
box folder
1 1 Financial, Developmental, and Procedural Alternatives, prepared by the Department of Public Works, Austin
2 Market Analysis for Private Development, May 1984
3 Request for Proposals (RFP): draft and final, 1984
4 Design Competition - Black, Atkinson and Vernooy (BAV) Best of Show, includes publicity and site photos
5 Design Competition - call for entries and Roma response to questions
6 Jury Comments on BAV scheme
7 Developer competition - agenda and notes for presentation
8 Developer competition - staff evaluation and development proposals
9 Developer competition - questions and answers, firm resume for BAV, and article on Black from Austin magazine
10 RFP: Watson-Casey Co. submission
11 A.P. Keller Co. submission
12 Barnstone/Krasovect & Minch Inc. submission
box folder
2 1 Design manual draft and final - Roma Design Consultants
2 Schematic design - Sinclair's notes (includes color photographs)
3 Schematic design - technical information
4 Schematic design - traffic
5 Schematic design - correspondence (includes traffic, energy and day care information)
6 Schematic design - consultant's information and introductions (includes photographs)
7 Schematic design - drawings, photographs
box folder
3 1 Design team meetings - minutes and notes
2 Venturi, Rauch, Scott, and Brown - draft guidelines for The Rambla
3 Venturi, Rauch, Scott, and Brown - plan for Republic Square District
4 Request for Archaeological services and general correspondence
5 City Hall - transmittals
6 Design team meetings - minutes and notes
7 Project information and drawings
8 Deshazo, Starek and Tang - parking standards
9 Issues/Discussions Austin City Council through September 5, 1985 (includes clippings)
10 Recommendations from Jorge Carrasco, July 23, 1985
11 AIA Review Committee - letter of support, proposed circulation plan, and clipping
12 Roma - memo regarding outstanding design issues
13 1st/3rd St. - memo resolution for Sally Shipman
14 Questions and answers - myth and fact
15 Design alternatives/final work sessions
box folder
4 1 DAD [Debbie Darden] notes from meetings, public hearings and work sessions
2 Frank Cooksey letter and draft
3 DAD timeline of design decisions
4 Financial analysis/Watson-Casey Co.
5 Letter of support from Larry Speck
6 City of Austin financial projections
7 Sinclair Black/DAD written descriptions, political comment
8 Work session agenda
9 Subcommittee report
10 City Hall Contract - current fee estimates
11 Overall organization
12 BAV organization (includes notes and correspondence)
13 Contracts
14 DAD notes/contract agenda
15 City Hall Contract - calculation of fees
16 J.P. Schneider Building - history and historic structure information
17 Contract
18 City Hall Contract/Graves Dougherty
19 RFP: Watson-Casey Co./City Hall
20 City Hall Contract - meeting notes
21 City Hall Contract - sample contracts
box folder
5 1 City Hall - Sinclair Black's calendar
2 City Hall - estimates of billings
3 City Hall - schedule
4 City Hall Contract - scope of work and intent
5 City Hall Contract - draft contract package
6 City Hall - management
7 Cost, Fee, M. Hrs.
8 City Hall - work file Andy [Vernooy] (includes notes and project schedule)
9 City Hall - fee file fo fum [sic] (includes site diagrams)
10 City Hall Contract 2
11 City Hall Contract - Andy's file
12 City Hall Contract (continued)
box folder
6 1 Subcommittee Report
2 Post office L'Enfant Plaza - blueprints
3 Preliminary Central Cooling Plant Analysis
4 Acoustical consultants - Joiner, Pelton and Rose Inc.
5 Archaeological and Geotechnical surveys and notes of traffic control
6 Archaeology - includes drafts by Michael Guarino
7 Archaeological services - includes Texas antiquities and cultural property information
8 City Hall - codes check
9 Revised zoning regulations - City of Austin
10 Zoning requirements
11 Building energy program report
box folder
7 1 Master Utility Plan Report
2 Operation and Promotion Master Plan
3 Square footage notes
4 Project time line
5 City Hall trees (includes photographs and negatives)
6 City Hall - Watson-Casey Co. controversy
7 Design team outline
8 Design development issues
9 What is the MOC?
10 City Hall Questions and Answers - notes
11 Questions Regarding Concepts
12 Sally Shipman questions and answers - memo from Jorge Carrasco
13 City Hall decisions
14 City Hall - notes (includes drawings)
15 City Hall - minutes and notes
16 City Hall - transmittals
17 City Hall - correspondence to Watson-Casey Co.
18 MOC Financial Alternatives
19 City Council Agenda
20 Roma memorandum to Chuck Terry regarding MOC site
21 MOC Plaza Program for Watson-Casey Co.
22 Program of Vertical Transportation
23 Audit and Finance Committee Agenda
24 City Hall Building Program
25 City Hall contracts (includes notes and sketches)
26 Roma Development Prospectus
27 Oral Presentation - Michael Guarino
28 Letter to Ed Kennedy
29 MOC entry fee receipt

Series B: Drawings

Series Abstract
The drawings series contains 2,000 drawings that document both the Austin Municipal Office Complex and Sesquicentennial Park. The types of drawings represented include a vast range of design sketches, competition renderings, site development drawings and working drawings. Neither of these projects were built. For more detailed information regarding these drawings, contact the archive staff.