Francisco "Paco" Arumí Noé, Ph.D.
1940 - 2005
On September 16, 2005, we lost a treasured friend, mentor, and visionary. We invite you to join us in honoring his legacy by making a gift today.
This fund will provide vital financial support to graduate students committed to the study, research, and advancement of sustainable design.
A Teacher …
A teacher can affect eternity.
No one can say where or when his influences may stop.
To learn and not be filled … is wisdom
To teach and never be weary … is Love
The trees in the orchard give.
They give so they may live.
For to withhold is to perish.
And peace is taught … not defended
That is why …
One devout teacher is worth more than thousands of warrior soldiers
And our beloved PACO is that teacher and mentor … who diligently enlightened, germinated, nurtured, and nourished a divinitive course toward the new era of sustainability.
Even though he has ascended from the midst of us, …
Yet … and forevermore
His vital, syntropical, and resonating presence in our fields and flows …
Will always remain sustainable and eternal.
Dr. Mohsen Hourmanesh (Research Assistant 1974-77)
People are lazy! That's what Paco taught me. People are lazy, though not maliciously so. We simply look for the way to do things that expends the least energy. That was characteristic of his style: direct, intelligent, and with a generous dollop of humor. He was of my father's generation, latin, chivalrous, kind, but deeply wrathful when wronged. He believed in the intelligence of his students, against all evidence to the contrary. He believed in the standard distribution. I think he was very satisfied when the graph of the grades in his classes took the shape of a bell curve. He had faith in me, and showed it by letting me be his TA and letting me lecture a couple of times. He danced. He said that the skies above his native Quito are deeply, darkly blue. This, he told me, was due to the lack of atmospheric interference at the lofty Ecuadoran elevation. Much higher, I suppose, the sky becomes darker, purple maybe, then black. But too high for us mortals. I hope wherever he is, the sky is that deep, dark, royal blue. Gracias, Professor Arumi.
Steven Schloss (M.Arch 2001)
It was Paco who awakened that part of me that loves numbers and wants to find the beauty in numbers and patterns and relationships. In his Thermal Design class (1992?), he often referred to "making the building dance." And he showed us how to do this - an invisible, yet sensory creation that was choreographed to diurnal patterns and metered in counterplaying variables of thermodynamics. Paco moved electrons into a way that we could all see them, through his program MUSES. Paco understood energy beyond simple thermodynamics. He understood how energy transcends life and art, and he transferred that understanding to his students. A muse is inspiration and guidance, and is often figurative and ethereal. Paco’s energy and love of discovering beauty in numbers has undeniably and fundamentally inspired me in paths of life and career. Thank you, Paco.
Chris Stewart (MSCRP97)
At the time, it seemed our whole structures class was overwhelmed. I went through three classes before I realized that Paco’s exclamations about a “free bady” was really “free body”. It was only one week before the final before I really understood what a free body was, along with everything else. Through his patience and kindness, he brought our class to some semblance of understanding of the subject. We were young kids who thought we knew so much -the subject showed us otherwise. Paco was a brilliant man who took the time to help us all to learn, grow, and achieve. His Muses program was remarkable. Upon reflection, it was a wonderful irony to sit at a computer called Sun in the dreary basement of Sutton at 3am. I think at the time I was in the first or second class to use the program. Here too, he was always kind, helpful, and smiling - even as we did our best to make the program crash every 10 minutes. Memory is a funny thing. Flashes of the past pop into one’s mind when you least expect. Years after school, I found I could not study for my ARE structures exam without visualizing debonair Paco in his wonderful white summer suit and hearing him say “free bady”. My years at UT left me with many memories, however few are more lasting and meaningful than my memory of Paco. The memory of his teaching excellence will always be with me. Thank you Paco and may God bless you.
Michael Voit (AIA BArch 1991)
The summer session of Construction II . . . It was one of my favorite courses at UT. Farewell Paco
Steve Handelman (MArch 1998)
After working through a calculation on a test exactly as tought I was so unsure of myself that I eased the first result and wrote in what my gut-feeling told me. Of course my gut-feeling was wrong. Seeing the poorly erased correct answer Paco wrote, "dare to be wrong!" He later explained that he would never lead me astray and that I should be confident in my work if I followed his simple instructions. I took his advice and did well in that class. Farewel Paco
Chuck Posas (1983)
Paco’s often humerous and original demonstrations helped us visually learn the fundamentals of statics. Those "moments" really made an impact on me and I will always remember his lessons along with great big smile.
Alexandra Kenig (Barch, 2006)
All through these passing years I kept on remembering with great love my years at our great UT school of Architecture; and Paco forms part of those great memories! I had a tough time dealing with moments and those things; he made all the difference for me! I will always be thankful to him! Farewell Paco. Love, Vivi
Viviana Navarro (1987)
I took Statics in the summer of 1985. On the first day of class, Paco walked in, set down his books and purse, and announced that half of us would fail the class. This was not a threat-- it was merely a fact. As the class progressed, he never used that big calculator of his; he just cancelled out the radicals. (Knowing trig function values, he could write out and solve an equation on the board faster than any of us could punch it into a calculator.) One day, he proved to my utter satisfaction that there is an infinite number of values for zero. In these respects and, I suspect, every other, he was correct. But somehow this did not make him hard to get along with, perhaps because it was not a threat-- it was merely a fact. Farewell, Paco.
David Franks (MArch 1988)
Paco was a dramatic and effective teacher. I still remember him flinging a classmate of mine (still seated in her writing desk) in an arc to demonatrate torque. In an instant, I understood the concept. He also told us the story of a village in Central America where all the buildings were of the same bay cadence because that’s the only span table the engineer had. I’ve retold that story time and again to illustrate the value of knowing how to actually work out the problem rather than relying on calulators and tables. Great blessings to a great teacher now working on the other side...
Mira Jean Steinbrecher (AIA MArch 1985)
Paco, Belatedly, thank you for several fond memories I have of my education...especially those regarding atomic particles and what I remember as the Second Law Thermodynamics "Chaos is forever increasing". Hope I got that right after all these years. It was great of you to take architecture students to all the interesting topics/places you covered in your classes. You have my thanks.
Ruth (Foster) Parshall (1974 Aug)
Paco was more than a teacher, he was a mentor and a friend. He was kind, warm, and always seemed to have time to help me with a problem. When I would walk into his office, he never failed to have a hearty hello and handshake. He seem to love to scrawl out equation after equation on a napkin or whatever he could find. He once told me that I should keep that napkin, because it might be valuble someday. I think he was joking, but I’m not throwing that napkin away just out of respect. I’ll miss you Paco.
Glenn Crow (1984)
As a high school student Paco left Equador complete his studies. Arriving in North Carolina alone he entered high school and soon decided the classes were too easy. He convinced UNC to admit him without a diploma, his good looks, charm and confidence were probably pivotal. Following graduation he enrolled in the UT Physics Departmnent. Paco was a truly impressive student. He needed very little supervision. All of us marveled at his intellect and his work ethic. He rarely made mistakes. As he neared graduation Professor Dick Swallow said Architecture might be interested in a student with Paco’s qualifications, they were. Paco was a devoted friend and colleague. He enriched my life. He leaves a hole that cannot be covered over, we will have to work around it.
Mel Oakes (Physics Dept.)
I loved learning from Paco. His solar geometry and statics classes were among my favorites. He was always encouraging and loved to watch his students puzzle through what was to so obvious to himself. I still remember in amazement how he would look at lists of numbers and see real world intereactions in them. Paco had a huge positive impact on my time at UT. He was a lovely man and I miss being able to tell him so.
Linda Vasquez (MArch 2001)
How sad to read that Paco has gone. Just yesterday I told a colleague my story of nearly failing Paco=x27;s statics course - yet through his patience and faith in me (and in each of us that semester) the concepts at last took root. I was able to sail through the remainder of those studies, thanks to Paco. He fostered a breakthrough that gave me confidence then, and continues to do so today. Days become years soon after graduation, but somehow the best memories persist as if one could simply return and find it all the same. Seeing Paco’s name on the header of this notice brought his smile immediately to mind, as well as recollections of the many ways one could tell how genuine his smile was. Few vocations are as noble as teaching, and among those, few to whom one can honestly apply the title in its highest, most profound sense. For me, Paco met that standard. I’ll remember his kindness, optimism, and gracious manner each time I recall my years at UT. When I think of those days, Paco’s still smiling.
Richard Hastings (MArch 1993)
I worked for Paco as a student intern in the late 70’s. Although I never actually took any of his classes, I saw the professional side and the personal side, house sitting for him one summer. It was with great sadness that I saw news of his death in the newsletter. He taught me a lot about programming, a lot about solar energy, and a lot about life. He was generous, demanding, and forgiving. I think he was an important addition to the UT faculty, and he shall be missed.
David Northrup (M.Arch 1979)
Everything Paco did, he did with passion. He loved his family, his work, his time spent with friends. He enjoyed his coffee strong, his cigarettes unfiltered, and he could really tear up the dance floor. He could seem fierce, but he had a tender and gentle heart. I enjoyed working with him as his teaching assistant for three years! He was brilliant and I admired his work with Muses and his work with his students. He presented a difficult subject, statics, in a way that most students could understand. Oh, and I loved his accent. I can not think of the word "rotate" without hearing it in Paco’s voice in my mind. He was my boss, but most of all he was a dear friend. I miss you, Paco.
Roseanne Kennedy Kaysen (MArch 1992)
Paco was able to take a subject I never thought to excel in (statics!), and make it so clear and comprehensible that it became my favorite subject! I, too, will never forget his demonstrations of a ’free bady’- spinning and sliding classmates (in their chairs) around the room! He was a wonderful instructor who made learning fun and easy. He will be missed.
Tracy Stone (MArch 1985)
I met Paco back in the summer of 1996; he was a funny guy, a macho man carrying a brown leather man purse outside home, and he was a hard worker at home in his corner office surrounded by science books on each wall and in front of his precious computer, but still funny when he was out of his office. Since 2001 he has been my step father, and it was great to have a physics and math dictionary at home. He knew everything in these subjects. When Paco was helping me solving math problems after dinner, if he was not able to do a problem, he would say that the problem itself was not right and he wanted me to go to my professor to say that he or she was wrong. He was not the stereotype of a step parent, he was very supportive and proud of my achievements and always there when I needed something I am going to miss him, I already do....Thank you Paco for all of your support.
Philippe Verain (2009)
It was 13 years ago when I first arrived in Austin to study in the M.Arch. program with an unfamiliar title, “Computation and Simulation”. I was informed then that if I wanted to study energy in buildings, this was the program. The program director was an expert in this field and he would be my study advisor. That was how I met “Paco” and he became my mentor ever since. I understood in him the reason for loving to help students learn and trying to make difficult subjects easier to understand.
Paco truly loved the simplicity and beauty of solving problems with mathematical equations. In the office in front of his favorite idol poster of Albert Einstein, he would sit with his “baby” (computer) trying to figure out how to solve an infinite reflection of light in the room, or how to design a shading device that lets the sunlight in during the winter time and blocks the sunlight in the summer time, or how to simulate the airflow pattern in interconnected spaces, etc. When I went up to see him in his office or he came down to check on my work progress in the basement of the Sutton Hall, he would happily share his theoretical ideas with me for hours. He was so proud of what he had just found and patiently explained how his theories simply worked until I understood. Paco would then spend days, sometimes months, writing computer program after program based on his theories, and integrating them into his DEROB program, which I was lucky enough to be part of. Many of these programs were utilized as research and learning tools for all interested students. The development of the DEROB program had been going on for many years and had never been stopped. Paco often joked that he was about to run out of English and Spanish words to describe architectural walls, surfaces, and spaces in his computer code, and may have to starting using Thai words soon. Even though this work was still in progress, his newly developed Macintosh version of DEROB program was a great accomplishment of his life-long work. It is an amazingly useful interactive tool for students to have better understanding of the dynamic interactions between energy and buildings.Under Paco’s invaluable guidance, I learned a lot about all aspects of energy in buildings and computer programming in the process. When I came to him with questions, he always had answers with critical and creative suggestions. He was very supportive and dedicated to help encourage me to work hard in order to achieve my goal. Without his support and guidance, my learning experience during my graduate study would not have been possible. Paco was a real teacher and a great mentor, and was always so kind to everyone. I will always remember the way he taught me and all his students. He was tireless in his devotion to teaching and searching for new knowledge, which is so inspiring. He will live on in the lessons that he taught his students. I will always be grateful to Paco for everything he did for me and for enriching my life. He will always remain fondly in my memory.
Apichat Praditsmanont (Ph.D. 2001)
Light, wind, sun and energy were terms that in Paco´s brilliant mind make seem simple and profound. I will always remember the first time I stepped into one of his classes: It was all full of numbers and equations that I could hardly understand. But his patience, help and interest change my perception of physics, math and the world. I had gone to UT for a design program and soon I was on the energy field following his amazing understanding of physics applied to architecture. Even now, twenty five years latter, I continue to follow his path, teaching energy to designers and trying to make them understand the beauty of logical and analytical thought. He could see, long before it was a fashion, the importance of energy to make "sustainable" buildings and invested all his life to show us how easy that was. Paco became a close friend, a mentor and a guide for my life. I was very lucky to keep his friendship and guidance for all these years. Even with the distance between Mexico City and Austin, every now and then we share a cup of expresso or a glass of wine while talking on education, architecture, art and poetry. It is hard to say how much I miss my professor and friend. He will always remain in my heart and in my mind.
Anibal Figueroa (MArch 1982)
Having sloughed through the requisite huge lecture-format introductory physics in the science department, I had come to think of myself as being dumb as dirt with very little hope of succeeding in my architectural education. Then Paco came to the SOA! It always seemed as if you could actually see the air in the classroom shimmer and vibrate, so infectious were his enthusiasms.Paco helped me to dream and create my thesis: a very ordinary suburban house made up of unordinary, at the time, materials and systems designed as a whole to be self sufficient. His vision and teachings of the powers of light, wind, water, and their energy enabled me to think deeply about how to create possibilities for the future of life on this planet. Sustainability became pivotal throughout my career.
Last year, thanks to Paco’s wisdom, superb teaching, and infectious zeal, I drew on the dreams and knowledge he had instilled in me and completed the first green MBA (www.bgiedu.org), focusing my work on our built environments. Today, with several of my classmates we are, in Seattle, working to evolve part of the next generation of componentized housing. Not “DWELL” houses but real, affordable, green-as-can–be, sustainable, decent, and delightful shelter for all. My team is made up of physicists, mining, energy, and structural engineers, a community housing expert from Holland, and a materials specialist - just what Paco would have recommended – we only wish we could have him on our board of advisors! In a way he is. As I do this work, I honor and celebrate the wonder that was Paco and the spark he lit for me so many years ago.
Ann Brudno (1972)
Paco played an important role both in my life and career. He will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to his family and colleagues.
Joujou Zebdoaui (1992)
This is not a farewell. Paco will live inside all of us, inside all people with whom we will share what we learned from him. He will be as a beam of light that has to bounce off other objects to illuminate: we will illuminate others with the light we borrowed from Paco. That is the nature of knowledge and his true legacy. Paco, you used to say "you don’t understand something if you can’t describe it mathematically", but Paco, what is the expression to describe your quest in life, your honesty, your love, your happiness, and your sadness? Math is too simple to describe your life and the feelings of people who miss you. We will miss you, we will miss all conversations we can’t have, all coffees we can’t drink anymore. All the light we will miss. Paco’s wife Charlette Beillon encouraged me write here, to face the blank screen, and try to express a little of my deep appreciation for Paco, my mentor and friend. Thanks Charlette, your mutual love made Paco happy again, even against all adversity. Being Paco, I have to conclude with a poem (by Silvio Rodriguez), which best express my feelings now: […] ¿A dónde va lo común, lo de todos los días? ¿El descalzarse en la puerta, la mano amiga? ¿A dónde va la sorpresa, casi cotidiana del atardecer? ¿A dónde va el mantel de la mesa, el café de ayer? ¿A dónde van los pequeños terribles encantos que tiene el hogar? ¿Acaso nunca vuelven a ser algo? ¿Acaso se van? ¿Y a dónde van? ¿A dónde van?
Eduardo Churquina (MArch 1996)
Paco’s passing deeply saddened me. I left UT, where I held a faculty position at the Civil Engineering Department for several years, about a year ago, and the realization of his death had a strong impact on me: I felt like suddenly loosing one of my strongest ties with the University and Austin. He was the first professor I met when I joined the post-professional program at the School of Architecture, and he soon became a friend and a mentor, who encouraged me and supported me throughout my student life first and academic career later. I will always remember his words of advice, warm encouragement and long and exciting discussion and arguments on almost every imaginable subject, from Philosophy to Politics and Economics, to Arts and Sciences. Paco used to tease me, because of my Greek background, arguing that Aristotle was responsible for the Dark Ages in Science..., triggering intentionally long and spirited debates about the philosopher, and then moving on to Paul’s influence on the early Christian Church and then on and on to other exciting and thought provoking subjects. His breath of interests and knowledge was rather unique, and, as a common student and friend, Rik Haden, very accurately put it in a note to me after his death: "Paco was a mentor and a friend who lived well, thought well, and should have been allowed to live forever.." I will always feel indebted to Paco; I can trace his influence in many of my academic accomplishments and my interaction with him has enriched my life in many ways. His inspiring and fond memory will remain in my mind and heart forever!
Katherine Liapi (MArch 86, MS 88, PhD 94)
The first day Paco walked into our class in Thermal Design, probably in 1976 or 77, I remember thinking I had never seen anyone who had such a big head. Though he had the brain power of a genius, as I was to learn, he was far from having the "swelled head" of someone who was arrogant. Instead, Paco put big issues into perspective and added a humorous twist to all the petty issues that arise in a university environment. Visiting him in his office in front of the oversized view of Einstein’s big hairy head, he seemed to say, "yes, it is good to have someone you can look up to." When I first joined his class, I didn’t trust myself to use a calculator! Instead I had to work everything out with pencil and paper to make sure I had got the right answer. I remember turning in one homework problem where we had to calculate heat gain in a "box house" from a tiny square west-facing window. I turned in several long sheets of paper with my figuring. Amazingly, after all that, I managed to get the right answer, though he teased me about using such big sheets of paper to do the work. When I asked him whether he would supervise my thesis for my Master of Architecture Degree, he said yes, he liked that kind of proposition, because it was harder (than the alternative means of graduating), and because I would learn more that way. Of course, then he insisted I learn to use a computer to do the research, and he taught me. Paco once commented how he missed the students who were willing to go for broke, to get an "A" because they cared, or an "F" because they didn’t. He cared. Paco didn’t believe in living life half-way. I would like to believe that his life was full up to the very last minute. I will always remember him, and the lessons he taught me with love.
Marcia P. Roberts formerly Turullols (MArch 1980)