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Award-winning architect receives honorary UF degree

February 29, 2012

William Morgan, award-winning architect and pioneer in researching the origins of architectural creativity, received an honorary degree, Doctor of Arts, from the University of Florida during a ceremony in Jacksonville, Fla., on Feb. 17.

“William Morgan, a native Floridian, is among the most distinguished and honored architects of his generation, an individual who made so many lasting and celebrated contributions to the built environment of this state,” said Christopher Silver, dean of the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning, who nominated Morgan for the award.

During the honorary degree ceremony, many spoke of Morgan’s accomplishments, including Martin Gold, director of the School of Architecture; William Bishop, vice president, Jacksonville City Council; Tom Norman, president of the American Institute of Architects Jacksonville; and Christopher Silver, dean of the college.

“It’s extraordinary,” said Morgan, after receiving the honorary Doctor of Arts. “It’s a great honor for me to culminate my academic activities with this [degree].”

After receiving his Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design and working in offices of Paul Rudolph and other architects, Morgan established his architectural practice in Jacksonville in 1961. Throughout his distinguished career, he has received numerous architectural design awards and professional distinctions, including being named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, an honor that recognizes architects who have made a notable contribution to the profession and to society.

Morgan is “well known for his significant work for the federal, state and local buildings in the 1970s. Many of these buildings were ahead of their time by utilizing ‘green building’ practices in architecture,” wrote U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in his letter of support for Morgan’s nomination. His most important works include the Florida State Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, now known as Dickinson Hall, the Police Administration Building in Jacksonville, Fla., the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the Hilltop House in Brooksville, Fla.

Morgan also made significant contributions as a scholar of architecture and archaeology. He has written five books, most recently Earth Architecture in 2008, which documented 54 examples of architecture embedded in the earth from around the world and throughout time. In 1998, Morgan was given an Institute Honor by the AIA in acknowledgement of his lifelong research on the history of architectural creativity.

Throughout the years, Morgan has taught and lectured at several universities, including Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Florida. His relationship with UF dates back to serving as a visiting studio critic in 1961 and includes serving as the Beinecke-Reeves Distinguished Professor of Architectural Preservation from 1998-2000.

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