DENORVAL UNTHANK, JR.
Unthank Seder Poticha Architects
African American AIA Fellow
SAY IT LOUD - Washington DC Exhibitor
Oregon Based Designer
He was the first black man to earn an architecture degree from the University of Oregon (UO).
DENORVAL UNTHANK, JR.
In 1951 he was the first black man to earn an architecture degree from the University of Oregon (UO). Unthank worked on the courthouse in Lane County, Oregon; McKenzie Hall (formerly the UO School of Law building); and Kennedy Junior Middle School in Eugene, Oregon. He is the eponym of Unthank Hall at UO. From 1952 to 1955, Unthank designed and built houses with Dick Chambers, who later started Chambers Construction Co. in Eugene. In 1955, Unthank began working for Wilmsen Endicott Architects. In 1960, he became a partner of the firm Wilmsen, Endicott and Unthank, Architects. In 1968, Unthank joined with Otto Poticha and Grant Seder in the firm of Unthank Seder Poticha Architects. By 1985, the firm also included Ed Waterbury, one of his former students. Unthank "designed schools, public buildings and business facilities around the state", including some in the Eugene area, including J.F. Kennedy Junior High School, and Springfield’s Thurston High School.From 1993-98, the firm was known as Unthank Waterbury. He served as an architecture professor at UO from 1965 to 1980. In 1980 he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, "recognizing his design work on the Lane County Courthouse, the former UO Law School, Central Oregon Community College campus buildings in Bend, the U.S. Consulate Quarters in Fukuoka, Japan, and numerous banks, professional offices, and private residences around the state of Oregon".
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McKenzie Hall is a four-story building with an irregular, rectilinear plan enclosed by brickwork walls and supported by concrete structural elements. Exterior surfaces are clad in yellow brick, while columns and beams are covered with rough cast concrete for textural effect and to emphasize floor divisions. The elegance of the building and the use of yellow brick echoes Fenton Hall, an Italian Renaissance Revival style building that housed the Law School before McKenzie Hall was built.