Remembering DeVon Carlson, FAIA

DeVon Carlson, FAIA was a great mentor to Emerging Professionals in Colorado throughout his career. Sadly, we have lost a meaningful member of the architecture community in Colorado, but his legacy lives on. 

Feel free to watch AIA Colorado History Committee’s video of DeVon Carlson here. 

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 14, 1:30 p.m. at the University Memorial Center, CU Boulder, on Broadway and Euclid.

DeVon M. Carlson, FAIA by Stephen K. Loos, FAIA

A stroke took DeVon (Dev) M. Carlson, FAIA, from us during the night of April 9, 2016. He was 98.

Writing in 1972 in the Colorado Fellows’ Book, Dev said that life’s great adventure began for him when, as a 24-year old, newly-minted architecture graduate, he left the “wooded, rolling plains of Eastern Kansas,” and headed to what would become his lifelong home, Boulder, Colorado.

Responding to a great influx of Navy students seeking engineering degrees, Dev began to look at his adopted “sleepy little community” as an opportunity to pursue a career as an educator.

Seeking suitable credentials, Dev turned to New York City and Columbia University for post- graduate study. Upon completion, he returned to Boulder and “uncovered” the earlier existence of a program in architectural engineering that had gone dormant during the war years. Along with Robert Rathburn, a graduate of the former program, Dev fostered the development of an accredited curriculum in architecture. In 1962, the University of Colorado took the School of Architecture out of the College of Engineering and made it an established, independent school with Dev as its first Dean. As the school’s Dean, Dev helped it find its ”voice” moving away from the historic tradition of the Beaux Arts architectural education and helping establish other influences on design such as historic context, climate, topography, materials, and structural innovation. After serving as Dean for nine years, he returned to full-time teaching in 1971 – ultimately retiring from teaching in 1981.

Following his retirement, Dev continued to stay active in the Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the National Architectural Accrediting Board, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the American Institute of Architects continuing a life-long focus on young architects and architectural history by serving on the AIA Scholarship and Historic Resources Committees.

Dev continued his devotion to young professionals by serving on the NCARB Examination writing Committee and the Colorado State Board of Examiners. While I never had the good fortune to have Dean Carlson as a teacher, I did have the opportunity to take his “Introduction to Architecture” course in my first year as an undergraduate.

I remember his course as a gentle and compelling presentation of the elegance, importance, and potential contribution of a career in architecture. Clearly evident was his enthusiasm and the energy he committed “to trying to prepare neophytes for entry into the profession of architecture.” I came away from his introductory semester convinced that my uninformed idea of wanting to become an architect was absolutely the right choice.

DeVon M. Carlson, FAIA, was a very effective mentor of young professionals, an incredible educator, and a wonderful contributor to the architectural community in Colorado. He will be sorely missed.

At this writing, no arrangements have been finalized for funeral or memorial services.

Stephen K. Loos, FAIA, April 14, 2016

2 thoughts on “Remembering DeVon Carlson, FAIA

  1. Dev Calson, God bless you. The lives he touched and influenced…including mine…were greatly enriched by his mentorship, insights and passion. I was fortunate to have Dev as a professor and I look back at my days at CU with a genuine fondness of what I learned in from his lectures and in our one on one conversations. A true passion in my life is European travel. Many times I have stood in front of a building that he lectured about in Architecture History, and I smile. I think back to his words in that class and I am enriched once more. To this day I cherish a letter of recommendation he provided me 41 years ago as I ventured into the real world to find a job after graduation. Thank you, Professor Carlson for a life time of enrichment.

  2. Dev Carlson FAIA, was about the first person I met entering the Department of Architecture in 1951. We became good friends and near neighbors on Mapleton Hill in Boulder after our return from France and the Corps of Engineers.

    Dev was a fine teacher with huge knowledge of architecture and history. He encouraged Art Everett and me to open our office there and gave us many important tips about this work of Architecture and how to find support.

    The 5th year thesis program under Dev’s direction was the best, careful, clear introduction to architecture and architects I ever experienced. My wife Laura and I have missed both Mary and Dev these last few years. His kindness and good clear thinking were there for us every time we met.

    How fortunate the College of Architecture was to attract such a grand educator, lots of us found our lives enhanced by Dev. May he rest well.

    Alan Zeigel BArch 1957

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