Born in 1922 in the Town of Springfield Missouri, Cox worked for his architect and engineer father from 1936 to 1940 when he joined the Coast Guard PT boat squadron and headed into the South Pacific. In 1945, Cox entered the Coast Guard Academy at New London Connecticut, and studied engineering, seamanship and military law. Discharged in 1946, Cox used his GI bill to attend Tulane University, graduating in 18 months.
Following college Cox spent 18 months designing hospitals, railroads and air terminals in Honduras for the Standard Fruit Co. In the early 1950s Cox worked for several architects in New Orleans and Nevada before moving to Las Vegas in 1954. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported on April 9, 1954 that Cox had passed the state architectural board and would receive an architect certificate. Cox designed numerous buildings in Las Vegas including: the Bonanza Club Casino and the Golden Hotel Mardi Gras.
Cox arrived in Tucson by 1956 and established his offices at 1419 East 8th. Cox was noted as a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright but it is not confirmed that he was a student at Wright at Taliesin West. Cox served as the president of the Tucson chapter of the AIA in 1955. By 1966 Cox office was located at 4419 East Broadway.
Cox’s work was definitively of the modern movement. His exuberant forms and structural systems were architecturally graphic and visually provocative. For the Catalina American Baptist Church Cox used a thin shell, cast in place concrete, hyperbolic paraboloid. The evocative design pushed the aesthetic of Tucson’s built environment. His buildings embraced popular trends of the era. The bowling alleys he designed are classic Americana.
Cox was elected a member of the college of Fellows of the American Society of Registered Architects in 1967. On the occasion Cox observed: “The average businessman and average homeowner is satisfied seemingly to accept a lot less than the best. That’s why you find a minimum of really high class residential areas in Tucson. The question comes to mind: Whose fault is that? The Architects? The citizens? I think it’s the architects’. The city building department can’t police design. You need more than a building code. You need a certain amount of integrity by the architect, builder and owner.” Cox died in 1996
Known Tucson Buildings
1958 Catalina American Baptist Church (constructed 1961), 1900 N. Country Club
1960 Golden Pin, bowling alley, 1010 W. Miracle mile
1960 John F. Newcomer Jr. House
1961 Church of the Master, 615 South Pantano
1961 Oxford House Apartments, 7th Avenue and University Avenue
1961 Church of Christ, 2848 North Mountain
1961 Diamond Pin, bowling alley, 22nd Street and Kolb Road
1961 Laguna Elementary School, 5001 North Shannon Road
1962 United American Life Insurance Building, 5315 East Broadway Boulevard
1962 Elizabeth Arms Apartments, 5770 East 10th Street
1963 Charles Cox House, 8145 La Oesta
1964 Swan Funeral Home, 1335 South Swan Road
1964 Hosoji House, Lock McCorkle Home, The Horizon National Homes, 8951 East Calle Playa in Desert Palm Park
1965 Park Adams Apartments – mural designed by Charles Clement, 1425 North Park Avenue
1966 North Side Fire Station #8, 250 W King Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705
1969 Church of Brethern Hall, classrooms and offices, 2200 North Dodge
1970 Tiffany West Creative Hair, 7030 East Broadway
1973 St. Alban Chapel (Sabino Canyon and River Road)