Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


T. Frank Murchison Memorial Tower

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: Trinity University
Original/Historic Place Name: T. Frank Murchison Memorial Tower
Location on Campus: Upper Campus, One Trinity Pl.
Date(s) of Construction:
1964original construction Ford, O'Neil
Designer: O'Neil Ford
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, engineering, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete pillars
Walls: brick with concrete fill
Roof: metal
1964-present (2006)other (campus landmark)

The T. Frank Murchison Memorial Tower, designed by O'Neil Ford and constructed by C. L. Browning, Jr., rises 166 feet above the university campus. The tower serves as a point of orientation visible throughout much of the campus as well as the surrounding metropolis. In building the tower, Ford wanted to be loyal to traditional brick construction techniques, but to build a heavy masonry tower in the old way was not feasible. Utilizing traditional Trinity brick, the tower was built according to old Roman engineering principles. In building the tower the contractor first laid the brick perimeter walls, and then poured concrete between them. This bonding of brick and concrete actually makes the tower stronger than if the modern system of construction--pouring the concrete walls first and then facing them with brick--had been used.

Although the tower was completed in 1964, it was contemplated to function as a campanile for the Margarite B. Parker Chapel, which was dedicated in 1966. The area has remained essentially the same, and in 2002 it was externally illuminated in order to make it more visible after dark. The tower has been incorporated into the new University logo as a symbol of the University's educational and institutional presence in San Antonio.


Dillon, David. The Architecture of O'Neil Ford: Celebrating Place. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1999.

Everett, Donald E. Trinity University: A Record of One Hundred Years. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press, [1968].

George, Mary Carolyn Hollers. O'Neil Ford, Architect. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1992.

HHM. Trinity University Building Survey. [Austin, TX: HHM], May 30, 2003.

Speck, Lawrence W. "O'Neil Ford's 'Caring Campus': His Work for Trinity University Spanned a Quarter Century." Architecture 72 (September 1983): 58-61.

"Trinity University." Architectural Forum (March 1955): 130-36.


Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006