Architecture and Design Museum

FAST FORWARD: The Architecture of William F. Cody
by A+D Museum
Jo Lauria, organizing curator
Catherine Cody, daughter of William F. Cody
Don Choi, Ph.D —professor of architecture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Emily Bills, Ph.D —architecture historian
Arts District Location

William F. Cody (1916 – 1978) was a legend in his own time. His architectural practice was prolific, diversified, and engaged a celebrity clientele that included Walt Disney, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. His projects ranged from residential homes and condominiums, to commercial centers and industrial complexes, to city and community master planning. Although a majority of Cody’s built work was concentrated in California and Arizona, he had commissions in Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Hawaii, Mexico, Honduras, and Cuba. This exhibition is the first comprehensive overview of Cody’s architecture based on primary archival research. It is a tribute to one of the “giants” of the midcentury modern movement and celebrates Cody’s centennial.

Cody’s projects were published internationally, and he was widely acknowledged as a forward-thinking, urbane architect who merged luxury with technology to achieve a high-style experimental modernism. A master renderer with an eye for art and interior design, Cody also pushed the boundaries of engineering and space planning. His career ended early when he died at the age of 62, at the prime of his practice. With the recent reassessments of midcentury architecture that embrace a broad understanding of modern design—from dynamic planning to rich interior decoration—Cody’s work is increasingly recognized as a formative contribution to architectural history.

Cody left behind a legacy of important contributions and his influence continues to serve as inspiration for successive generations of designers. The objects on display created by architecture students of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, inspired by the designs of William Cody, are a testament to Cody’s relevance to the ongoing dialogue of architecture.