Professor Emeritus Sinclair Black Receives 2024 Vision Award

July 10, 2024
Throughout his five-decade career and 100+ semesters teaching at UT Austin, Black has left a lasting impact on the urban fabric of Austin and generations of students.
Sinclair Black speaking in front of a crowd in the Goldsmith Courtyard

Congratulations to Professor Emeritus Sinclair Black, the recipient of the prestigious 2024 Vision Award from the Austin chapter of the Urban Land Institute. Given annually, the Vision Award is one of ULI Austin's highest honors, recognizing individuals who have made an outstanding contribution within the Austin region.

Considered an Austin visionary for his innovative and wide-ranging work in architecture and urban design, Black has helped develop Austin as a major, innovative American city. Throughout his five-decade career, Black has shaped some of the city’s most noteworthy projects, including the City of Austin’s Great Streets Master Plan, the 2nd Street District, Cedar Street Courtyard, and Reconnect Austin, a grassroots campaign to bury I-35 through Downtown Austin to reclaim the corridor as a walkable, mixed-use public space. 

Black received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Architecture degree from The University of California, Berkeley, and he established the firm Black + Vernooy, now Black + Motal. Black joined the School of Architecture faculty in 1967 and served as acting dean from 1972-73. A deeply dedicated professor, Black taught at UTSOA for 50 years, 101 semesters, and left a lasting impact on the school and generations of students inspired by his vision of the expansive potential of urban design to affect broad, lasting change. 

Reflecting on his work and legacy in an interview with Professor Juan Miro published in the 2020 issue of Platform "Urban Agencies: Projections for the Contemporary City," Black notes: "I think that the architect is and will always be relevant because of the term design. Planning is planning, and architecture is design. What really matters is when architecture becomes part of the larger context. I could always model with my hands what I said to my students in the urban design seminar. Over here, on the right is planning, and over here on the left is architecture. Neither one is sufficient, neither one of them produces a city, until they come together on a project that is urban design. That's why, when I created the endowment for the School of Architecture, we named it "The Architecture of Urbanism." 

Upon his retirement, Black donated a transformative $5 million to enrich the School of Architecture’s Urban Design Program and research efforts through the Sinclair Black Endowed Chair in the Architecture of Urbanism. His endowment supports distinguished faculty in the field, visiting lecturers and critics, research initiatives, travel and merit scholarships, and outreach and collaborative efforts with the City of Austin and other community-serving organizations. 

In addition to Black’s professional and academic impact, he has served in a volunteer advisory capacity for numerous projects and nonprofit boards, including the Town Lake Beautification Committee, Trust for Public Land, the Downtown Austin Alliance, and the Urban Land Institute, Austin. He is also the Director Emeritus for the Austin Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism. 

ULI Austin will recognize Black at their 2024 Impact Awards Event to be held on Tuesday, August 27 at The Topfer at ZACH Theater. He joins an impressive list of previous ULI Austin Vision Award recipients including Ashton Cumberbatch of Equidad ATX (2023); Phyllis Snodgrass of Austin Habitat for Humanity (2022); Walter Moreau of Foundation Communities (2021); Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette of Huston-Tillotson University (2019); Gary Farmer of Heritage Title (2018); Kirk Watson, former Texas Senator and current Austin Mayor (2017); Alan Graham of Mobile Loaves & Fishes (2016); and Tom Stacy of CapRidge Partners (2015). 

Above: Sinclair Black speaking at the opening of the 2017 exhibition "Sinclair Black: 101 Semesters Beyond the Studio."

A bustling city scene in downtown Austin
Downtown Austin's Second Street District


Rendering of Black's vision for the future of IH-35
A vision for the future of IH-35


Black and white photo of Sinclair Black teaching at UT Austin
Sinclair Black in action. Photo credit: The Daily Texan, July 11, 2008


Sinclair Black headshot