James Cox came to the University of Virginia from England as a visiting professor of design in the School of Architecture from 1961-62. While he was there, he took on additional history courses to teach and returned to the University in 1967 as a professor of architectural history, staying until his retirement in 1990. He now lives in Savannah, Ga.
“Professor Cox’s interaction with students went beyond the school of architecture—he helped them see the world beyond Charlottesville,” says Jay Graham (Arch ’69, ’72), who was a teaching assistant in Cox’s popular survey course in architectural history that “started with the pyramids and the Greeks and spanned all the way to modernity.” Graham now owns a landscape architecture firm in Maryland.
Cox’s lectures “brought students from the College to the School of Architecture,” Graham says. “He incorporated the arts into architectural history. He wove in music and painting—he exposed us to culture.” Graham described Cox inviting his students and assistants to parties in Pavilions where they “would meet professors from all across the University, professors of music, professors of philosophy.” This may happen regularly today at UVA but in the 1960s experiences like that were a rarity, Graham says.
In 2011, friends and former students of Cox’s worked with the School of Architecture to establish the James A.D. Cox Distinguished Lectureship in Architecture. At Cox’s suggestion, the speakers for the series all come from outside the United States, in keeping with Cox’s own legacy. “The A-School is really starting to have an international focus,” Graham says. “The chair of the department is Spanish, and they have professors from all over the world.” The school also has new initiatives in such countries as Italy, India, China and Switzerland.
The inaugural Cox Lecture was delivered in March, 2012 by Vikramaditya Prakash, director of the Chandigarh Urban Lab, which is dedicated to researching small and mid-size urbanism in globalizing India, with James Cox in attendance.
Professor Cox is back in Charlottesville today for the second lecture in the series, to be given by Helen Dorey, deputy director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, a house-museum of one of England’s greatest architects.
The lecture will take place in Campbell Hall 153 at 6 p.m.