Jesse J. Peterson, Jr., FAIA – B.Arch ’59

“Enrollment at North Carolina State College in 1954 required only an application, a High School diploma, and payment of a small fee.  All NC residents meeting those requirements were accepted. Portfolios and interviews were not expected.

In 1954, the North Carolina State College enrollment included 4,500 students. 125 were women. The name was changed to North Carolina State University in 1965. The School of Design became the College of Design in 2000, this name change upsetting many Alumni.

Freshman and Sophomore Years

The school year started with 90 Freshmen enrolling in Architecture or Landscape Architecture. 1954 was the last class comprised largely of Korean War Veterans. Some married Vets lived with their wives in Vetville, now the location of Bragaw Hall. Most students lived on campus in dormitories, usually 3 to a room.

Before classes began in September 1954, a few of us attended the YMCA introduction to NC State. The “Y” was located behind Brooks Hall, now site of the Kamphoefner Hall. Deans of the schools were introduced, including our Dean, Henry L Kamphoefner. It was the first time I visited the campus and the first time I saw the Dean. 

Early in the school year, Dean Kamphoefner told us fraternities were frowned upon. He said students should concentrate on work, not frat houses. Most of us followed his admonition. The fraternity he had belonged to was also on our campus- he ignored it.

The Dean’s Office and some classes were held in Daniels Hall. Design studios were in the Barracks- former WWII Army barracks located between Daniels Hall and the Nuclear Reactor Building.

We loved the Barracks. We designed on the walls, tested paint colors on them and enjoyed our freedom. Paint spills on the floors were OK- they just added to the patina.

All NC State students took large introduction classes with up to 500 students. Once the instructor told us to “Look at the person on your right. Look at the person on your left. Only one of you will be here next year.” That prediction was accurate. Both of my Design roommates dropped out early on.

The second semester in 1955 started with an 18” snowfall. Raised in Wilmington, my largest snowfall was 5 inches when I was 5, so the snow was a treat. I fell on my backside twice going to my 8 AM English class like many others.

February 1956 was moving day to the newly renovated Brooks Hall. Our world changed! We were told to keep everything CLEAN! A major requirement, but hard for us, going from the freedom of the Barracks to strict rules at Brooks.

The three Second Year classes were held in what later became the library. One Saturday afternoon we were all on charrette. Most students were there. Music was playing, paint was splattered on the new floor, and paper was everywhere. The place was trashed.

On Saturday afternoon,  Dean Kamphoefner came in furious telling us we were ruining the building he had worked so hard to get built. He said, that he “could not understand how all the pigs got put in one class.”

The first two years in Design were basic and all design students took the same classes. In the third year, and beyond, Landscape Architecture students had separate classes. 

In Architecture, there were two classes for the third year, one for the Fourth year, and one for the Fifth year.

In the smaller third-year classes, learning shifted into high gear. Class projects were real-world architectural projects, small projects at first gradually growing in scope.

During the final three years, older students were a great inspiration to younger students. They became our after-class tutors in design and painting just like we had helped them with calculus earlier. 


Sports were not big to most Design students, but a few notable events occurred during our years. 

NC State, Carolina, Duke, and Wake Forest were the Big Four in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The other four teams (Virginia, Maryland, Clemson, and Georgia Tech) didn’t matter to us.

The stadium was behind Syme and Kamphoefner Halls, now a parking lot. The dorm rooms in Syme were favorites for students to watch football games for free. 

In the Fall of 1956. a major event happened. NC State beat UNC in football for the first time since before WWII. This was repeated in ’57 and “58!

Everette Case, our basketball coach, introduced big-time college basketball to the South. Games were played to sell out crowds in the Coliseum and State frequently won. Many championship banners hung from the Coliseum rafters. He was the King of College Basketball. Many of his players went on to head programs at Duke and other major basketball schools.

Just letting off steam.

During a charrette, often someone brought out a guitar and sang, filling the studio with music.

Occasionally about 1 AM we would walk down Hillsboro Street to the White Front Grille for hamburgers and milk. Then work until 4 AM or so.

One night, walking to my dorm, I heard loud sirens on Hillsborough Street. The bowling alley building across from Patterson Hall was burning! We stood on the embankment in front of Patterson and cheered on the firemen! 


Preparing our thesis gave us new freedoms. Several of us did our work on the bottom floor. I worked with a Landscape Architecture student. We received critiques from both architectural and landscape professors- a real plus. 

We each designed our own thesis project in the fifth year. As time ran out, we helped those who were behind who needed stippling, drawing in grass, and other background details. This also taught teamwork.

As graduation neared, some of us faced military obligations. I asked Dean Kamphoefner whether I should go into the Navy for three years as an officer or join the NC National Guard for 6 months of active duty and 5 1/2 years part-time. He said, “Peterson- do you want to be a military man or an Architect?” I left his office, walked through the woods to the National Guard Armory, and signed up. It was sound advice!

Looking back on five years of long hours and hard work also brings back memories of the fun of learning and friendships. It also makes me realize attending the School of Design was the best professional decision I have ever made.

I am grateful to Dean Kamphoefner, Leslie J Lasky, Cecil Elliott and Roy Gusso in design, George Matsumoto and Horatio Caminos in Architecture, Louis Clarke in Landscape Architecture, Joe Cox in painting, Harrye B Lyons our Librarian, and many others who prepared us for productive lives after graduation.”


Jay Peterson founded Peterson Associates, an architectural and engineering firm that specialized in healthcare facility design. It grew to 75 employees in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Richmond, VA, The firm designed 100 hospitals during 24 years of his leadership. Peterson designed healthcare facilities built in many states, including England, Belgium, and Saudi Arabia. In the mid-1990s he was the School of Design Chair for the Campaign For NC State Students which raised $1.9 million in scholarship funds, the largest amount raised for the School of Design up until that time.