Otho Plummer Administration Building


The Otho Plummer Administration building was designed by local architect and AIA Fellow, Llewellyn “Skeet” Pitts of Pitts, Mebane and Phelps. This iconic landmark was the capstone to the original master plan for the campus designed by Pitts in 1941. It was completed in 1959 and originally called the Lamar State College of Technology Administration Building.

Lamar grew rapidly in the post-war 1950s as the school raced to educate students who excelled in engineering, science and technology. Pitts’ goal for the administration building was to create a revolutionary modern design emphasizing a futuristic outlook. An initial T-shaped design for the building was rejected by then President F.L. McDonald who did not want visitors arriving on East Virginia Avenue (now Rolfe Christopher) to approach the back of the building first. Pitts’ solution was to create a doughnut shaped building visually accessible from every angle and instantly recognizable for its unique look. Though there are precedents for other round buildings in architecture, this may well be the first circular administration building on a college campus in the U.S.

The administration building took on the Ortho R. Plummer name in 1975. Plummer was a respected alumnus, Lamar Regent, businessman, founding committee member of the Neches River Festival, and mayor of Beaumont. He wrote the winning essay in a 1932 contest to rename the South Park Junior College after Mirabeau B. Lamar who was considered the Father of Public Education in Texas because of his mission to set aside land for public institutions. Plummer was also involved in converting Lamar from a two-year to a four-year university.

The Otho Plummer Administration building received historical designation in the National Park Services Register of Historic Places in 2015 thanks to research by Lamar professor Richard Michael Gachot with assistance from Penny Clark and Charlotte Holliman. Read the complete historic document submission.

INTRIGUING FEATURE

The most intriguing feature of the building is the screen of cast concrete fret slabs that circle the exterior. The inspiration for this shape came from the logo of the Tau Beta Pi honorary engineering society, which is based on a trestle bent used in bridges. Interestingly, the entire kite-shaped campus design with the round building at the top is similar to the Tau Beta Pi logo.

Pitts also designed the Lamar College of Technology logo in 1950. This logo consists of an outer band with the school name and an inner circle made up of cogs and wheels. At the center is the star of Texas with a pentagon at the core. Richard Gachot, who authored the submission of the Plummer building to the National Historic Register, surmises that the design of the entire Plummer building was a manifestation of Pitts’ logo.