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A letter from Frank Sherwood, F. ASCE regarding the passing of Preston Geren, FAIA

Bob Adams called me this morning to inform me of Preston’s passing, and I want to send these thoughts to his children and family.

Preston, his father, and grandfather Frederick Giesecke have surely contributed more to the architectural heritage of the State of Texas and innumerable constructed buildings than any other single family in the history of the State. I expect that all of you know much of the scope of their work, which is well-documented on the internet, particularly by Texas A&M University. If you wish any assistance in development of Preston’s obituary or otherwise, I would be glad to be of assistance, and I am certain that Bob and Jeannie Jones would do so as well.

At one point before the closing of the Geren/CRS firm, there was a list compiled of all the Public School districts that the Geren firm had served over the years, which I think numbered around 137 districts in north, east, central, and west Texas. At that time, the lateThad Harden, with Preston’s approval, sent original drawings to all of the Districts that could be found.

Through my work as Project Director on the Kimbell Art Museum, I am absolutely convinced that Lou Kahn’s design could not have been built without the assistance of the Geren firm, or one very similar to it.

In addition to Preston, Principal contributors to the Kimbell in the Geren office were:

Thaddeus Harden, Chief Draftsman and Quality Control Chief.

Dewayne Manning, Project Architect who drafted the bulk of the architectural drawings for the building.

Terry Garrett, who drafted all of the drawings for the sitework.

Harold Hatfield, Chief Structural Engineer who oversaw design and drawings for the foundation and structure through the ground floor.

Ted Fay, Chief Specifications Writer.

Guy Austin, Field Observer of Construction.

Although Preston went though an anguishing experience in working with Lou Kahn (he once said in a letter to Kahn: “Your method of practicing architecture is foreign to my experience.”), it is worth noting that Preston went to extraordinary lengths after Kahn’s death to ensure that certain disputed fees were paid by the Kimbell Art Foundation to Kahn’s estate to assist his widow, who was left in dire financial straits due to Kahn’s lack of interest in finances. Preston gave me his file of correspondence with the Kahn estate’s attorney on this matter, which I in turn gave to Kimbell Archivist Mrs. Pat loud for the Kimbell archives, where the file resides. This is a typical demonstration of Preston’s extremely high ethical character and behavior as a gentleman of the first-class.

I have worked for a number of outstanding leaders and mentors in my 65 years in design and construction, but I have never been associated with anyone who got more done in a day’s time than Preston.

He was extremely good to me in the nearly twenty years I worked for him, I admired him greatly, and I will always treasure the experience of my association with him.

 

Frank H. Sherwood, P.E. (Ret), F.ASCE