In remembrance of Brian Shawcroft (1929-2017), a leading modernist architect, photographer, and educator, Special Collections pays tribute to his life and contributions to design at NC State and beyond.
Born in England in 1929, Shawcroft studied architecture at the South West Essex Technical College and School of Art in London from 1949-1953. After emigrating to Canada in the 1950s, Shawcroft pursued a Masters degree in Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied under the mentorship of Argentinian modernist architect and educator Eduardo Catalano. Catalano went on to become a professor and Head of Architecture at the NC State College School of Design (now the NCSU College of Design).
Shawcroft completed the Masters in Architecture at the MIT in 1960 and joined Eduardo Catalano and the faculty of the NC State School of Design as an associate professor and lecturer in architecture, 1960-1968. At NC State, Shawcroft worked with founding dean Henry Kamphoefner and other early faculty members in the School of Design, including George Matsumoto and Roy Gussow.
In addition to teaching, Shawcroft began practicing architecture professionally in 1954 and worked with various firms throughout his career, including Holloway-Reeves. He is recognized for designing much of the modernist home inventory in the Research Triangle region from the 1970s to the late 1990s. In 1991 he was awarded the annual Henry Kamphoefner Prize by the American Institute of Architects-North Carolina Chapter for demonstrated excellence in the Modern Movement of architecture. He died in 2017.
In a 2016 oral history interview, Shawcroft stated, "There is a process that you've got to go through as an artist, and I consider being an architect as an artist." Throughout his career, Shawcroft emphasized the value of architectural photography and of hand drawing as architectural skills. In 1994, Brian established the juried Shawcroft Prize for Drawing “to recognize and encourage the skill of architectural drawing by hand.” The annual prize is awarded to NC State architecture students with superior hand drawing skills. Shawcroft was also an accomplished photographer, with work featured in several early School of Design student publications, including Building Skeletons and Photography for Designers. These publications, as well as many more of Shawcroft's photographs, drawings, correspondence, and other materials, are available in the Brian Shawcroft Papers (MC 00370) documenting his life and career.
The Brian Shawcroft Papers (MC 00370) are open to researchers and can be accessed by contacting the Special Collections Research Center to schedule a research visit. The video and transcript of the oral history interview with Brian Shawcroft and other digitized materials are also available on the Rare & Unique Digital Collections site.