Asheville, North Carolina, USA
- Asheville, North Carolina
Styles & Forms:
Six Associates began in 1942 as an Asheville architectural firm established by a group of western North Carolina architects: William Waldo Dodge, Jr., Henry Irvin Gaines, Anthony Lord, William Stewart Rogers, Erle G. Stillwell, and Charles Waddell. This brief account covers only the general outlines of this important firm’s work. Biographical entries and building lists for the firm’s individual practitioners will be posted when they are completed.
The founders organized Six Associates as a confederation of architects bound together by the goal of qualifying for defense contracts during World War II. The six architects, all active in Asheville and Western North Carolina, and most of them leaders in promoting architectural professionalism and organization, had been frustrated in their individual attempts to obtain Federal commissions in the Southeast when such jobs—which typically went to bigger firms—were among the few wartime opportunities for architects. They met to devise a strategy to challenge larger firms and get work from the Office of Engineers. Henry I. Gaines, one of the participants, recalled the meeting in his book, King’s Maelum:
“The other architects and engineers in our area were facing the same problem and receiving the same answer. Some time before, a group of us collaborated on a public housing project, so the thought occurred to us, ‘Why not pool our organizations?’ So the six of us—Earl Stillwell, Charles Waddell, Tony Lord, Bill Dodge, Stewart Rogers, and I—had lunch together at the S and W Cafeteria [the Asheville building designed by Douglas D. Ellington] and agreed to pool our organizations and make a united effort to obtain some defense work. This combination produced an organization of about forty people, and since there were six of us we thought ‘Six Associates’ would be an appropriate name.”
The architects’ strategy to compete for defense contracts created what became one of North Carolina’s most successful modern architectural firms, which flourished throughout the rest of the 20th century and continues into the 21st century. This account covers the period 1942-ca. 1970, when the founders were still actively involved. Additional works by individual architects will be treated in their separate entries.
Six Associates’ combined talents and resources, as they hoped, got them jobs during the war, including hospitals and factories in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and other works. For about five years after the war, the six architects remained affiliated but resumed independent practices and kept separate offices. Stewart Rogers managed the organization during this period, and Six Associates became an extended office for members and provided the large drafting force needed for major commissions. The architect who negotiated the commission was usually the chief designer and superintendent of the work, and the others provided design advice and support staff.
Around 1951, a second organizational meeting formalized the corporate arrangement, and Six Associates constructed an office building for the firm. The massive postwar growth of the Southeast region confirmed the sagacity of this decision. The united firm won numerous commissions for factories, college buildings, and hospitals, and developed one of the most respected modern design firms in North Carolina. Much of their work was in Western North Carolina, but their practice extended far beyond the region as well. Their work in the 1950s and 1960s typically expressed the International Style, sometimes employing forms and materials with a regional flavor in the handling of natural materials including wood and stone. Although none of the founders is still alive, Six Associates is still an active architectural firm, although it ceased to exist under that name in the mid-1990s. The office was bought out by Ellis/Naeyaert/Genheimer Assoc. (ENGA) and operated for a time as ENG/6A. Then ENGA merged with Harley Ellington Pierce Yee and became Harley Ellis. In 2002, the office was bought out by Callaway Johnson Moore & West which it is today.
- American Architects’ Directory (1970).
- Biographical Clipping File, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, North Carolina.
- Charlotte V. Brown, interview with William W. Dodge III, Sept. 4, 1981, notes in Charlotte V. Brown Collection, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Charlotte V. Brown, interview with Anthony Lord, Sept. 11, 1981, notes in Charlotte V. Brown Collection, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Jane Hall, “Founding Fathers NCAIA, 1913-1954,” Southern Architect (1954), reproduced in C. David Jackson and Charlotte V. Brown, History of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1913-1998 (1998).
- “Anthony Lord,” Who’s Who in America (1976-1977).
- North Carolina Chapter Collections, American Institute of Architects Archives, Washington, D.C.
- “On Top of Old Smoky,” Interiors (May 1966).
- Southern Architect (Sept. 1957; Nov. 1957).
- Variant Name(s):Coker Botany BuildingDates:1961-1963Location:Chapel Hill, Orange CountyStreet Address:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus, Chapel Hill, NCStatus:StandingType:EducationalNote:The Coker project was reported in the Daily Tar Heel, Sept. 30, 1961.
- Dates:1946Location:Morganton, Burke CountyStreet Address:W. Fleming Dr., Morganton, NCStatus:No longer standingType:IndustrialNote:This project was noted by Gaines in a form he completed in 1946. He stated it was worth $500,000.
- Dates:Ca. 1964Location:Montreat, Buncombe CountyStreet Address:Montreat Campus, Montreat, NCStatus:StandingType:CommercialNote:The Montreat Commercial and Social Complex won a merit award from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1965.