Gordon Greenfield Wittenberg (1921–2020)
Gordon Greenfield Wittenberg was a notable Arkansas architect who led one of the state’s premier architecture firms. During his career, he was honored for his architectural accomplishments and for his service to his profession. Also, he was a leader in business, civic, and social organizations in the community.
Gordon Wittenberg, the second of three children of George Hyde Wittenberg and Minnie Greenfield Wittenberg, was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 12, 1921. After attending Little Rock public schools, he attended the School of Engineering at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for one year and was president of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He then graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Illinois, where he was a member of two honorary architectural societies: the 130th Gargoyle Society and the Scarab Fraternity.
After graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the Army Air Corps and served during World War II. Upon discharge at war’s end, he returned to Little Rock and, at the recommendation of his father, went into the construction industry to learn about that business as a foundation for practicing architecture.
He married his college sweetheart, Anna Mary Wilkins from Harrisonburg, Virginia. They had two sons, Gordon Jr. and Raymond M. After the death of his wife of fifty years, he married Betty Townsend Rowland of Little Rock, who died in 2004.
In 1950, Wittenberg joined his father’s architecture firm, Wittenberg, Delony and Davidson, one of the three largest firms in the state. He was made a partner in 1953, was elected president in 1959, and led the firm until his retirement in 1983. After retirement, he was welcomed at the firm in his monthly visits to stay up to date on projects and lend advice.
During his leadership, the firm received thirty design awards from various sources. Among the many projects the firm was involved in were the design of the Little Rock Convention Center and the headquarters buildings for Entergy, Regions Bank, and Stephens, Inc. In addition, the firm designed buildings for schools, colleges, prisons, and hospitals throughout the state. His favorite design project was the Arkansas State Hospital, which he always showed to visitors.
Wittenberg served as president of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Arkansas State Board of Architects. He was a member of the board of the Southern Conference of Architectural Registration.
His professional awards include the Gold Medal of the Arkansas Chapter of the AIA, the John Williams Fellowship Award of the University of Arkansas School of Architecture, and the Fay Jones Gold Medal of 1992. He was also named a fellow of the AIA. He was inducted into the Arkansas Construction Industry Hall of Fame in 2002.
With co-author and fellow architect Charles Witsell, he wrote Architects of Little Rock: 1833–1950, published in 2014. They were awarded the Dick Savage Memorial Award by the AIA.
Wittenberg represented the business community in his service on the boards of directors of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, and First Commercial Bank. Civic activities included serving on the boards of the United Way and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He also was president of the Arkansas Arts Center (now the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts) and a trustee of the Endowment Trust.
His positions of social leadership included board membership of the Little Rock Club and of the Country Club of Little Rock, where he played golf for many years. Wittenberg enjoyed the outdoors as a sportsman and was an avid duck hunter and fisherman. He was a lifelong member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Parish.
Gordon Wittenberg died on January 8, 2020.
For additional information:
Monk, Ginny. “Architect’s Vision Seen in Little Rock Skyline.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 11, 2020, p. 2B. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/jan/11/architect-s-vision-seen-in-little-rock-/ (accessed February 3, 2021).
Obituary of Gordon Greenfield Wittenberg. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 12, 2020, p. 3K.
W. W. Satterfield
Little Rock, Arkansas
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