Hugo Leipziger-Pearce, professor emeritus of architecture, died on July 13, 1998. He was 95.
Professor Leipziger-Pearce was born on December 8, 1902, in Breslau, Germany. He studied at Friedrich Wilhelm University and the Art Academy in Breslau. Later he studied at the University of Hamburg and was admitted to the German Institute of Architects in 1927. Professor Leipziger-Pearce served UT as a faculty member from 1939–1974. Professor Leipziger-Pearce was a charismatic and visionary academician who saw the cities, regions, and residents of Texas as his “clients.” He was an instrumental player in understanding and making visionary plans for the unprecedented growth and development of the cities and regions of Texas from the late 1930s into the 1970s.
Prior to joining the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin in 1939, he was director and chief architect for the German government's community development program in Upper and Lower Silesia from 1926 to 1933. For a brief time he practiced architecture in Paris, France. In 1937, he accepted a position with an architectural firm in Australia. His award-winning design for the firm's Women's Hospital in Melbourne brought him to New York to complete work on the Australian Pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair. His international career involved architectural assignments in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, France, and Australia, as well as the United States.
Armed with a three-year Rockefeller Grant in 1939, Professor Leipziger-Pearce persuaded The University’s President Homer P. Rainey and San Antonio Mayor Maury Maverick Sr. to match the grant with an extension and give him a teaching position at the University. The combination of his notable accomplishments in architectural design and the good will of President Rainey and other Texas leaders enabled Professor Leipziger-Pearce to remain in the U.S. during the war with Nazi Germany and ultimately to become a U.S. citizen and University professor.
Many years after coming to the U.S., the German Museum in Frankfurt acquired Professor Leipziger-Pearce’s architectural and city planning record of practice in Germany. The importance of his work was recognized as an essential element of European achievement in the Modern Movement. After the end of World War II, he was appointed a member of the American Institute of Architects’ national committee on post-war European reconstruction. In 1950-51, he was invited back to Germany to serve as a postwar reconstruction consultant to the U.S. Department of State and the High Commissioner for Germany.
During his long tenure at UT Austin, Professor Leipziger-Pearce taught studios, led research contracts, and practiced professionally in urban and regional planning. He served as a visiting professor at Yale University and the University of North Carolina. He was a leader and pioneer in interdisciplinary studies and academic program development at the University, engaging faculty members and students from many departments and schools in planning related curricula. He began immediately upon his arrival at the University to teach and advocate for curriculum development in planning. Through the 1940s, he developed and supervised an undergraduate degree program in community and regional planning for architecture students. Beginning shortly after the Second World War, he turned out several graduates each year with the degree of Bachelor of Architecture in City and Regional Planning.
Professor Leipziger-Pearce later campaigned effectively for the expansion of graduate research and professional programs in planning. In 1951, he successfully pioneered the interdisciplinary graduate degree program in Community and Regional Planning (CRP), having persuaded the Texas Commission on Higher Education to allow the creation of the first such curriculum in the State. He was appointed by the dean of the Graduate School as chair of the interdepartmental Graduate Studies Committee for the planning program, involving architecture, economics, engineering, government, business administration, law, geography, sociology, and education. Professor Leipziger-Pearce explained, “The program was organized on an interdepartmental basis to enable students to develop a broad understanding of the closely-related physical, social, and economic aspects of community and regional planning” (UT News & Information Service, May 1960). He steadfastly developed the new curriculum and the faculty. In 1959, the planning program was accredited by the national Planning Accreditation Board. He continued as director of the CRP Program until 1970 and retired in 1974, having graduated many cohorts of students over his tenure of 35 years.
Professor Leipziger-Pearce led many initiatives in local, regional, and state planning in Texas. As federal funding for research in housing and community development became available in the 1950s, he provided considerable assistance and support to the Texas Department of Health, Department of Community Affairs, the Governor’s Office, and later the Coordinating Board for the Texas College and University System. For many years Professor Leipziger-Pearce was designated “supervising consultant” to the State Health Department’s Planning Assistance Program, which provided technical-planning assistance to some 78 cities throughout Texas.
Professor Leipziger-Pearce developed an extensive portfolio of research and planning assistance projects, conducted with UT graduate students along the Texas-Mexico border that extended through the early 1970s. During the Second World War, while enrollments and teaching ebbed considerably on the campus, Professor Leipziger-Pearce was sought out to design and instruct a series of short courses on housing and community development in Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth to help these cities prepare for the anticipated surge in housing demand after the end of wartime. Much of his post-war work was sponsored by the federal “701” Planning Assistance Program of Texas. He devoted most of his post-war urban planning assistance efforts to urban revitalization, rethinking the ways in which streets and land uses had been constructed haphazardly and inappropriately for the economic needs and trends of the remainder of the 20th Century. In his words, he strived to “…get the sick cities back on their feet… Some of our most sophisticated Texas cities are unzoned and unplanned for… Streets wind in and out of business districts, and sometimes fine homes or churches stand next door to honky-tonks” (UT News & Information Service, Aug. 1955). He completed planning projects in practically every Rio Grande Valley city, as well as various regional plans, visions, and growth projections.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, he and his wife, Martha (also a planner), worked together on master plans for the cities of Mercedes and Irving. And, in the mid-sixties, he again served as consultant to the German government's urban and regional planning agencies. He was decreed an honorary ember of the German Institute of Architects, and his German architectural practice drawings are housed today in the Architecture Museum in Frankfurt as an example of early practitioners of the International Style.
During his career, he authored more than 40 academic publications as well as multimedia products and an untold number of professional reports. His visionary book, The Architectonic City in the Americas, was published by The University of Texas Press in 1944. In his writings, instruction, professional practice, and public engagements, he always emphasized public participation. “A city’s plans reflect nothing more than the intelligence of its citizens,” he stated. “City planners don’t want to do to the people—they want to do with the people” (U.T. Record, 1955). He was elected member emeritus of the American Institute of Architects and an Honorary Life Member of the American Society of Planning Officials.
Professor Leipziger-Pearce remained engaged with his colleagues at the University long beyond the time of his retirement. In his weekly trips to the School of Architecture, he reflected deeply upon the many decades of his professional and academic work, providing perspectives and thoughtful words of advice whenever he could. CRP Program Director Kent Butler said recently, “I have the fondest memories of Hugo—dropping by for his brief weekly visit to check the mail and have lunch at the Faculty Club with his wife, Martha, and several good friends on our faculty. He always wore a jacket and tie and friendly smile, looking ever so distinguished and joyful.”
William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Terry Kahn (chair) and Kent Butler.
Biographical sketch prepared and posted on the Faculty Council web site on January 5, 2001. It is also found in the Documents on the General Faculty, page 1037.