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Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Finding Aid/Inventory

Personal Papers

Professional Papers

University of Houston

Business Cards

Audio Recordings

Video Recordings

Correspondence Files

Clippings

Exhibitions, Conferences

Architectural Projects

Architectural Projects: Photographs

Photographs: Architecture and Professional

Photographs: Family and Friends

Harry Walker Photographs

Planning Commission

Travels

Cemeteries

Memorabilia

Reference Materials

Oversized photographs and artwork

Cemeteries: Oversized Materials

Art Cards

Miscellaneous Oversized Materials

Oversized Architectural Renderings

Keeland Exhibition

Architectural Projects: Drawings

Art Posters

Oversized Rolled Materials

Oversized framed artwork

Oversized sign



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Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers, 1926-2000 | University of Houston Libraries

By Stephen James

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Collection Overview

Title: Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers, 1926-2000View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1950-2000

ID: 01/2002-005

Primary Creator: Keeland, Burdette

Extent: 25.0 Linear Feet

Subjects: Architecture, Domestic, Architecture - Texas - Houston, Houston (Tex.), Keeland, Burdette, University of Houston - Alumni and alumnae, University of Houston - Faculty, University of Houston. Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture

Forms of Material: Correspondence, Greeting cards, Personal papers, Photographs

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Burdette Keeland Papers cover the period 1926 to 2000 and are comprised of his architectural drawings; business and personal files; memorabilia; photographic prints and negatives; as well as materials from his teaching career.  The collection occupies 25 linear feet of shelves and 15 drawers of flat files.  It is stored in 40 boxes, 112 oversize folders, and 5 tubes for rolled material.  It also includes one oversized construction sign and one piece of framed artwork.

The largest category of documents concerns Keeland's architectural practice. This category is comprised of his architectural drawings, project files, photographs, and magazines in which his work was published.  The majority of the original drawings are (a) studies and preliminary drawings and (b) working drawings.  Keeland was a talented artist and created presentation drawings in pen and ink for many projects.  These are of special interest and are noted in the finding aid for those projects.

Other important categories include Keeland's correspondence files, clippings files, travel photographs, papers from the City of Houston Planning Commission, and files related to his teaching career with the University of Houston.

Related Materials:

Burdette Keeland Architectural Drawings & Photographs digital collection (http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2002_005)

Harry Walker Photographs digital collection (http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/p15195coll17)

Also, Keeland amassed an extensive collection of photographic slides of the architecture he encountered on his travels.  These slides were separated from the Burdette Keeland Papers and transferred to the Visual Resources Center at the University’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture.  At present they have not been processed or catalogued.

Biographical Note

Burdette Watts Keeland, Jr. was an influential Houston architect.  He was well known for his design work, his service as an educator, his long tenure on the City of  Houston Planning Commission, and his community involvement with the Park People and other groups.

Keeland was born in Mart, Texas on February 2, 1926, but moved with his family to Houston six months later.  He attended Lamar High School, graduating in 1943.  He enrolled at Texas A&M University briefly before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944.  He served with U.S. occupation forces in Japan and was discharged in mid 1946.  After another short stay at Texas A&M, he enrolled at the University of Houston in the architecture program.  In 1947 he married Margaret Scott ("Margie").  From 1950 to 1957 they had four children: Margaret, Burdette III, Ruth, and Bonnie.

Keeland received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Houston in 1950.  He began teaching design there in 1954 and was an influential member of the faculty until his death in 2000.  He was briefly on the faculty at Rice University and served as lecturer and guest design critic at other noted architecture schools in the United States and Mexico City.  Professional organizations recognized Keeland's distinguished teaching career on several occasions.  He received the outstanding educator awards from the American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter, in 1987, and the Texas Society of Architects in 1993.  In 1992 he was honored at the University of Houston Architecture Alumni Association's Burdette Keeland Roast.  In 2000 he was the subject of a retrospective exhibition of his work at the University of Houston's College of Architecture.

His long career at the university was also significant because of his association with Howard Barnstone.  An important Houston architect, Barnstone was Keeland's close friend and colleague until Barnstone's death in 1987.  In the early 1950s he introduced Keeland to Houston art collectors and philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil and to New York architect Philip Johnson.  These relationships had a profound effect on Keeland for the rest of his life.  In 1959 Barnstone was also instrumental in Keeland's admission to the graduate architecture program at Barnstone's alma mater, Yale University.  Of his many accomplishments, Keeland was perhaps most proud of his role in 1981 to secure for Philip Johnson the commission to design the new  building for the College of Architecture.  (Among the oversized memorabilia in the collection is the large construction sign for the building, given to Keeland when it was completed.)

In 1964 Mayor Louie Welch appointed Keeland to the Houston Planning Commission.  Keeland became chairman in 1981 and served in that capacity until 1991.  On January 31 of that year the city honored him by proclaiming the day "Burdette Keeland Day."  He was a tireless advocate of the benefits of urban planning, including land-use zoning, a position that was not always popular in the city.

Keeland was a prolific designer and had a successful practice, particularly from 1950 to 1980.  Although he never obtained state licensing as an architect, he was well respected by his peers.  Over several decades his projects were published consistently in national and international magazines and won a number of design awards.

His career as a designer can be broken into several periods.  In the 1950s, influenced by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, Keeland's work followed the Miesian aesthetic of flat-roof pavilions defined by an exposed steel frame.  While several examples of this period survive, the best is the Meyerland Parade of Homes House (1955) on Jackwood Street, designed for homebuilder W. K. "Buck" King.

His year at Yale from 1959-60 exposed him to the ideas of other nationally-known architects, such as Paul Rudolph and Louis Kahn.  As a result, in the 1960s his work was less predictable, as he explored a number of other approaches to modern architecture.  An important example of his work of this decade was his Essex-Houck office building (1961; demolished 1990s), an homage to Louis Kahn.

During the 1970s Keeland moved from architectural design into real estate development, as he adopted the model of a design-build practice.  He developed several townhouse complexes in his Kirby Drive-area neighborhood of Houston.  They are remarkable for their sensitive scale and relationship to the street.  However, his most significant building of this period was the large 4101 Greenbriar office building (1975), which he designed and developed in partnership with other investors.

He also designed the proposed 4141 Greenbriar Building (1983) to be built next door, but Houston's economic depression of the 1980s halted the project.  There was little private or commercial construction in the city during this time and Keeland's professional practice suffered.   A highlight of the period, however, was his remodeling of his family's residence at 2907 Ferndale (1986) with its three-story tower and fanciful supporting column.

In 1986, Keeland suffered a heart attack, the first of a series of health problems to slow him in the last decade of his life.  During the 1990s he undertook  several residential projects and helped host a number of fund-raisers for the College of Architecture.  At two of those, in 1994 and 1998, he welcomed his friend Philip Johnson as guest of honor. 

After architecture, Keeland's greatest passion was cemeteries, an interest he developed on a trip to Milan in the late 1960s.  There he was inspired by a graveyard filled with  interesting and varied funerary monuments.  For the rest of his life he studied and documented cemeteries around the world and collected material for a book on the subject, which was never published.  He advocated an enlightened approach to these places, suggesting that the living treat them as park space.  Keeland invested some of his creative energy in designing headstones and monuments, a number of which were executed for clients.  He created a line of designer tombs for  a Texas monument company.  His largest project was an addition to the Cedarvale Cemetery in Bay City, Texas in the early 1990s.  In 1994 his unusual interest earned him feature stories in a number of regional newspapers and a profile in Texas Monthly magazine the following year.

Burdette Keeland, Jr. died on May 26, 2000.

Subject/Index Terms

Architecture, Domestic
Architecture - Texas - Houston
Houston (Tex.)
Keeland, Burdette
University of Houston - Alumni and alumnae
University of Houston - Faculty
University of Houston. Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture

Administrative Information

Repository: University of Houston Libraries

Access Restrictions: Open for research.

Use Restrictions: Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

Acquisition Method: The Burdette Keeland Papers were donated to the University of Houston Libraries by Margaret Scott Keeland in 2002.

Related Materials:

Burdette Keeland Architectural Drawings & Photographs digital collection (http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/2002_005)

Harry Walker Photographs digital collection (http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/p15195coll17)


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1926-2000],
[Series 2: Professional Papers, 1952-1999],
[Series 3: University of Houston, 1940s-2000],
[Series 4: Business Cards],
[Series 5: Audio Recordings, 1953-1968],
[Series 6: Video Recordings, 1989-2000],
[Series 7: Correspondence Files, 1931-1996],
[Series 8: Clippings, 1950s-1990s],
[Series 9: Exhibitions, Conferences, 1983-1995],
[Series 10: Architectural Projects, 1950-1998],
[Series 11: Architectural Projects: Photographs, 1950-1999],
[Series 12: Photographs: Architecture and Professional, 1931-1990s],
[Series 13: Photographs: Family and Friends, 1920s-2000],
[Series 14: Harry Walker Photographs, 1900-1940s],
[Series 15: Planning Commission, 1913-1993],
[Series 16: Travels, 1962-1995],
[Series 17: Cemeteries, 1940s-1990s],
[Series 18: Memorabilia, 1944-1950],
[Series 19: Reference Materials, 1905-2000],
[Series 20: Oversized photographs and artwork, 1935-1990s],
[Series 21: Cemeteries: Oversized Materials, 1990s],
[Series 22: Art Cards],
[Series 23: Miscellaneous Oversized Materials, 1947-2004],
[Series 24: Oversized Architectural Renderings, 1953-1983],
[Series 25: Keeland Exhibition, February 10 - March 3, 2000],
[Series 26: Architectural Projects: Drawings],
[Series 27: Art Posters, 1944-1995],
[Series 28: Oversized Rolled Materials, 1966-1996],
[Series 29: Oversized framed artwork, 1980],
[Series 30: Oversized sign, 1984-1986],
[All]

Series 2: Professional Papers, 1952-1999
This section features material related to Keeland’s career as an architectural designer.  Folder 9 contains, among other things, a “Self-Employment Statement,” which is Keeland’s own list of his clients and projects from 1951 to 1985.  Also notable are his files on other architects, such as Philip Johnson,  Howard Barnstone, Buckminster Fuller, and Frank Welch.
Box 2
Folder 1: Vitae, Biographical Material, Pt. 1, 1960s
Folder 2: Vitae, Biographical Material, Pt. 2, 1970s-1980s
Folder 3: Vitae, Biographical Material, Pt. 3, 1990s
Folder 4: Vitae, Biographical Material, Pt. 4, 1990s
Folder 5: Vitae, Biographical Material, Pt. 5, 1990s
Folder 6: Keeland Biography for Roast, 1989
Folder 7: “Burdette’s nomination, H.FAIA” (Barnstone file), 1985
Folder 8: Board of Architectural Examiners: Keeland, Pt. 1, 1965-1985
Folder 9: Board of Architectural Examiners: Keeland, Pt. 2, 1985-1996
Folder 10: Urban Research, Pt. 1, 1969-1972
Folder 11: Urban Research, Pt. 2, 1969-1972
Folder 12: Urban Research, Pt. 3, 1969-1972
Folder 13: Keeland Stationery, Pt. 1, 1960s-1980s
Folder 14: Keeland Stationery, Pt. 2, 1960s-1980s
Folder 15: Keeland Office Brochure, 1966
Folder 16: Keeland Offices (Photos), 1970s-1980s
Folder 17: BK Speeches, Pt. 1, 1965-1995
Folder 18: BK Speeches, Pt. 2, 1965-1995
Folder 19: BK Speeches, Pt. 3, 1965-1995
Folder 20: Plywood Design Awards, 1972
Folder 21: Photofest 98 Exhibit, 1997
Folder 22: Texas Society of Architects Meetings (Photos), 1952, 1965
Folder 23: Rice Design Alliance Awards Dinner (Photos), 1980s
Folder 24: Rice Design Alliance - Mies Home Tour, 1999
Folder 25: Houston Architecture: Events, Catalogs, Pt. 1, 1970s-1990s
Folder 26: Houston Architecture: Events, Catalogs, Pt. 2, 1970s-1990s
Folder 27: Office Announcements, 1964-1969
Folder 28: Architects’ Club, 1985
Folder 29: Telegram, Architectural Forum, 1961
Folder 30: Keeland and Architects (Photos), 1960s-1990s
Folder 31: Eugene Aubry:  Clippings, 1991
Folder 32: Howard Barnstone, Pt. 1, 1958-1987
Folder 33: Howard Barnstone, Pt. 2, 1958-1987
Folder 34: Howard Barnstone, Pt. 3, 1958-1987
Folder 35: Howard Barnstone, Pt. 4, 1958-1987
Folder 36: Howard Barnstone, Pt. 5, 1958-1987
Folder 37: Howard Barnstone Corespondence, 1957, 1980s
Folder 38: Barnstone Estate: Correspondence, 1993
Folder 39: Howard Barnstone – Proposed Catalog, 1994
Folder 40: Museum of Fine Arts Master Plan, Pt. 1, 1990
Folder 41: Museum of Fine Arts Master Plan, Pt. 2, 1990
Folder 42: Museum of Fine Arts Master Plan, Pt. 3, 1990
Folder 43: Villa de las Flores Project, Pt. 1, 1992
Folder 44: Villa de las Flores Project, Pt. 2, 1992
Folder 45: Houston Architecture Foundation, Pt. 1, 1994-1997
Folder 46: Houston Architecture Foundation, Pt. 2, 1994-1997
Folder 47: Houston Architecture Foundation, Pt. 3, 1994
Folder 48: Houston Architecture Foundation, Pt. 4, 1994
Folder 49: Houston Architecture Foundation, Pt. 5, 1994
Folder 50: Buckminster Fuller Materials, Pt. 1, 1958
Folder 51: Buckminster Fuller Materials, Pt. 2, 1958
Folder 52: Buckminster Fuller Materials, Pt. 3, 1958
Folder 53: Buckminster Fuller Materials, Pt. 4, 1958
Folder 54: Buckminster Fuller Materials, Pt. 5, 1958
Folder 55: Keeland, Buckminster Fuller, 1960, 1975
Folder 56: Student Paper, Buckminster Fuller, 1995
Folder 57: Keeland and Philip Johnson, 1960s-1980s
Folder 58: “Philip Johnson in New Canaan”, 1986
Folder 59: Frank Welch, Pt. 1, 1996
Folder 60: Frank Welch, Pt. 2, 1996
Folder 61: Frank Welch, Pt. 3, 1996
Folder 62: Frank Welch, Pt. 4, 1996
Folder 63: Frank Welch Firm Brochure, 1996
Folder 64: Frank Welch C.V., 1996
Folder 65: Frank Welch Photography, 1995-1998
Folder 66: Yale Club, Pt. 1, 1990s
Folder 67: Yale Club, Pt. 2, 1990s
Folder 68: Yale Club, Pt. 3, 1990s
Folder 69: Yale Club, Pt. 4, 1990s
Folder 70: Yale Club, Pt. 5, 1990s
Folder 71: Yale Club, Pt. 6, 1990s
Folder 72: Yale Club, Pt. 7, 1960s-1980s
Folder 73: Lamar High School Reunion, 1993
Folder 74: Texas A&M Alumni Newsletters, 1980s
Folder 75: Park People Gala, 1989
Folder 76: Cards – Architecture, undated
Folder 77: “Photos–Not me”, undated
Folder 78: Sheet of commemorative architecture postage stamps, undated

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1926-2000],
[Series 2: Professional Papers, 1952-1999],
[Series 3: University of Houston, 1940s-2000],
[Series 4: Business Cards],
[Series 5: Audio Recordings, 1953-1968],
[Series 6: Video Recordings, 1989-2000],
[Series 7: Correspondence Files, 1931-1996],
[Series 8: Clippings, 1950s-1990s],
[Series 9: Exhibitions, Conferences, 1983-1995],
[Series 10: Architectural Projects, 1950-1998],
[Series 11: Architectural Projects: Photographs, 1950-1999],
[Series 12: Photographs: Architecture and Professional, 1931-1990s],
[Series 13: Photographs: Family and Friends, 1920s-2000],
[Series 14: Harry Walker Photographs, 1900-1940s],
[Series 15: Planning Commission, 1913-1993],
[Series 16: Travels, 1962-1995],
[Series 17: Cemeteries, 1940s-1990s],
[Series 18: Memorabilia, 1944-1950],
[Series 19: Reference Materials, 1905-2000],
[Series 20: Oversized photographs and artwork, 1935-1990s],
[Series 21: Cemeteries: Oversized Materials, 1990s],
[Series 22: Art Cards],
[Series 23: Miscellaneous Oversized Materials, 1947-2004],
[Series 24: Oversized Architectural Renderings, 1953-1983],
[Series 25: Keeland Exhibition, February 10 - March 3, 2000],
[Series 26: Architectural Projects: Drawings],
[Series 27: Art Posters, 1944-1995],
[Series 28: Oversized Rolled Materials, 1966-1996],
[Series 29: Oversized framed artwork, 1980],
[Series 30: Oversized sign, 1984-1986],
[All]

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