Architecture Professor Jerry Wall Retires After 40 Years

Architecture professor Jerry Wall plans to retire at the end of this academic year.
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Architecture professor Jerry Wall plans to retire at the end of this academic year.

Jerry Wall, the longest-serving current faculty member in the Fay Jones School of Architecture, plans to retire at the end of this academic year.

Having influenced thousands of students, Wall finishes up 40 years of teaching both core curriculum and elective courses. Every student who went through the architecture program in the past four decades has been educated by Wall.

A retirement reception will be held in his honor from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at University House on campus. The school invites the campus community to join Wall for this event.

Wall received a Bachelor of Architecture from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Science in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then worked as a structural engineer for two Houston firms, Caudill Rowlett Scott and McDonnell Automation.

He taught at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for five years before coming to the University of Arkansas in August 1973. The Oklahoma native made that move because he wanted to get closer to home. He received his doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1980.

Throughout his career at the Fay Jones School, Wall taught all five courses in the school’s required technology sequence, focusing primarily on the structural aspects of design. Each year, he also taught an advanced structures seminar in which students researched, wrote and presented papers on topics related to technology, materials or methods.

He consistently taught second- through fourth-year architecture students.

In the classroom, Wall has most enjoyed “seeing students catch on to what you’re trying to teach,” he said.

In addition to his lecture classes, Wall also frequently consulted with students in studios on their projects. With that one-on-one work, he helped students determine what the best structure would be for their designs.

Amid other courses, where students are encouraged to create sometimes beyond bounds, the structure and technology classes are important for them.

“It provides them with limits as to what they can do within a building,” he said. “And just the technology discipline gives them the ability to finish a job.”

Wall has kept in contact with some of those students he’s taught over the years. He’s particularly proud of a couple: Bill Asti, who practices architecture in Little Rock, and James Kaylor, who practices in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

“Both those guys have been very successful,” he said.

Wall’s research interests have included structural design for extreme environments. His students developed exercise equipment to combat microgravity stress on astronauts and designed a habitat for Mars, presenting their work to NASA employees at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

In retirement, Wall looks forward to spending time on woodworking projects and on the water at Beaver Lake on one of his three sailboats.

He tells a story about wooden skis that he built for himself several years ago. He used to use them to do trick jumps over ramps behind a ski boat. This one time, the quality of the wood for a ski wasn’t quite as good as it needed to be, and the ski was too flexible. As he got to the ramp, the ski broke off as he went through the air. Landing with only one ski was tricky and painful, he said.

Wall joins his wife, Suzanne, who retired two years ago from the University of Arkansas, where she was an administrative assistant in the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies.

Contacts

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu

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