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.

Professor James Cox with architecture students from the class of 1963 on a trip to Mexico City, 1962. From the left: Wylie Cook, Professor Cox, Bill Rich, Ken Bonner, John Colgan, Doug Roller, Dave Draper, Vito Cetta, Carlton Abbott
Cox is remembered for taking students on trips abroad to expand their understanding of architectural and art history. The trips often helped to form tight bonds between students—a group of architecture alumni from the class of ’63 who once traveled to Mexico City with Cox gathered together recently for a reunion and recreated a photo from that trip. “In the spring of 1962 we drove to New Orleans and flew to Mexico City,” says Vito Cetta (Arch ’63). “We gathered this spring for our 50th reunion and as it turned out all of us except Jim Cox were there. We recreated a photo taken at one of our dinners in Mexico. Jack Rogers (Arch ’62) sat in for Jim in the recent photo.”

Alumni from the class of 1963 recreating the Mexico trip photo at a 50th reunion gathering. Starting from the left: Wylie Cook, Jack Rogers (sitting in for Cox), Bill Rich, Ken Bonner, John Colgan, Doug Roller, Dave Draper, Vito Cetta, Carlton Abbott
Graham took a trip to England after his fourth year in the summer of 1968 where he participated in a punt race (a boating race) at Oxford Polytechnic. “We came in third, and Professor Cox was there cheering us on,” he says. “Eventually we ended up in a pub way out in the country.”

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.