Emery O. Young, Jr., AIA 1932 – 2016
Emery O. Young, Jr., AIA, 1932 – 2016: Refinement of form and detail, elegant proportions and a use of exquisite materials were the signature ‘voice’ of architect Emery Young. His rarified sensibilities attracted wealthy and erudite clientele and his hand-drawn working drawings on large ( 30” x 40” or larger ) sheets were the envy of his professional peers. Sensitive site plans, exquisite sections, framing plans, and large-scale details were composed on a sheet with no inch to spare. No architect in the region drew as carefully and in as fine a hand as Emery and his office, and none would have detailed finish work to the 1/32nd of an inch or looked for hours on a hot day for a missing ¼ inch in the layout of a concrete foundation.
Emery was born in Post, Texas where his parents lived on the caprock just northwest of town and was simply not cut out for the farm life indicated in the 1930s in that place. He attended architecture school at Texas Tech (where he was known by close friends as “E.O.” ) and graduated in 1954. Emery found the love of his life – Barbara Lee – and first danced together, while at a Stan Kenton performance in Fort Worth. They were married 51 years.
He served two years in the Army and then worked for Wilson, Patterson, Sowden, Dunlap and Epperly from 1957 to 1960. He worked for two years with Wyatt C. Hedrick before brief stint with HKS and then joined Albert S. Komatsu & Associates where he designed a number of highly-regarded projects including the Cullen Davis residence. After a year with Envirodynamics in Dallas he started his own practice as Emery O. Young and Associates in Fort Worth.
Significant residential work from his office included the 1979 Axe Residence in Arlington, Texas, 1981 Kornfeld residence, 1982 Minker residence, 1986 Otero residence and the 1993 Geesbreght residence in Mira Vista. A 1980 finish-out for Trouve in Fort Worth stands out in his small body of commercial projects.
Emery served on over 30 committees for AIA Fort Worth and served as chapter President in 1975. In 1979 he was the inaugural recipient of the Charles R. Adams Award for Design Excellence. The award was not given again for 11 years. He received 11 design awards from AIA Fort Worth and two from the Texas Society of Architects – one for the James Foy residence and another for the Shady Oaks Townhouses on Roaring Springs Road freelancing with Al Komatsu.
He cared intensely for cooking and gardening his entire life and these loves, in conjunction with his family and his architectural practice, formed the centerline of his existence. Dinner parties with friends, dancing and social and cultural activities provided counterpoint. His friendships with those in the art and design community such as Tonny Foy were strong and lasting conversations. Many of his noted residences were built by Steve Rapfogel, whose right hand Charles Ivy could be both challenged and chagrined by Emery’s stringent requirements. Emery officed for years in the Pollock – Capps residence on Penn Street before moving to the Roundhouse Office Building on West Vickery ( destroyed for the Chisholm Trail Parkway ) designed by Moore, Rubell and Yudell.
Much of the body of work produced by the architect Emery O. Young was residential, in part because this is the nature of the conservative market in Fort Worth for contemporary design. Much of the work has been mindlessly altered or even destroyed for the same reason. His houses were sited primarily on sloping, wooded properties as these are the lots not desired by the developers and the real estate market. Despite these local biases, and because of them, Emery Young’s work provided a benchmark for architectural quality in Fort Worth for several decades and his persistant efforts to practice architecture as an art opened a doorway for a large number of other architects. His employees included Sam Austin, Patrick Hammer, Robert ‘Bubba’ Hager, Daphne Dawn Perry and Rick Wintersole.
In 1994 architect Frank D. Welch said of Emery that he had “…scrupulously produced a body of distinguished, small-scale designs to earn the highest regard by his peers in Fort Worth and beyond. He possesses that city’s modernist conscience unalloyed by the vicissitudes of transient design fashion. He quite clearly and unselfconsciously sees architecture as an art and is unwavering in pursuing that goal. That makes him unique. This sometimes lonely quest has placed Emery Young at the very top of his community of architects.” The words remained true.