Eldon Karr is a licensed architect who has been in private practice since 1978, within a year of becoming certified and licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has been a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and been recognized by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Eldon has practiced in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas.
For a philanthropic foundation, he developed an elementary school as a much needed safe haven from hurricanes in the Dominican Republic.
Eldon’s educational journey has been unconventional. He studied engineering and architecture at Virginia Tech. Early in his career, while studying architecture, he supported himself as a graphic artist at a small Roanoke advertising agency. After illustrating and co-authoring a publication on lithography plate production, he won a position as an assistant advertising director for a “trail-blazing” building supply company: Moore’s Building Supply, an early competitor of Lowe’s. Following that position, he moved further into the construction industry as a field representative and engineering assistant for the fledgling Timber Truss Company. Two years later, Eldon entered an apprenticeship position with Thompson and Payne, Architects, where he engineered the structure for Muse Hall @ Radford University and prepared construction documents for several buildings at Radford University, Roanoke College and Longwood College.
During his five years with Thompson & Payne, Eldon volunteered time to serve as rotating exhibits chairman at the Roanoke Fine Arts Center. He was then recruited to serve as Executive Director of the Roanoke Fine Arts Center. During his two year tenure in that position, he discovered and exhibited a large collection of Mediterranean artifacts that had been donated to the City of Roanoke years before by the Funkhouser family. E. M. Funkhouser served as president of the Roanoke Gas Company from 1893-1912 when the artifacts were purchased from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
While serving as director, Eldon also collaborated with well-known watercolorist and advertising executive John Will Creasy to establish the Roanoke City Arts Commission and move the location of the annual Sidewalk Art Show to Elmwood Park where it became today’s Festival in the Park. He also coordinated and organized many accredited classes in Fine Arts through the University of Virginia while participating as a student in many of the classes. He organized and presented sixteen major exhibits including an Andy Warhol show (works loaned directly by Andy Warhol and Sydney Lewis of Best Products) and a retrospective of the work of Robert Frost with the National Park Service.
After returning to Architecture and becoming registered as an architect 1977, Eldon began his private practice in 1978 in the dilapidated Farmers’ Market area of Roanoke. The area became a centerpiece of urban renewal in the Design ’79 planning process conducted by Chad Floyd of Centerbrook and renowned architect, Charles Moore. As an active consulting member of the design team, he gained a first-hand perspective in the area of urban design and planning. The unique approach of engaging the public in the design process largely shaped Eldon’s urban design and land use planning practice in the years to come.
The cities of Christiansburg, VA, and Danville, VA and the Town of Pembroke awarded commissions to Eldon’s firm to conduct similar urban design projects followed by several complementary building projects. Radford University selected the firm to prepare a 10 year Campus Master Plan that was conducted as an early approach to campus “in-fill” planning following the lead of University Architect Warren Kark at VPI&SU.
Eldon has completed commissions for Virginia Tech, Radford University, the University of Virginia, and Clinch Valley College. He completed an award winning master plan for six Roanoke County Parks. His pocket park, Century Plaza, was recognized and featured in a national publication of architecture, Architect.
A long time contributor in civic affairs, he has served for over 20 years of the Roanoke County Board of Zoning Appeals. He prepared a vision for his home community of Bent Mountain, VA as a part of Roanoke County’s Vision 2010 and is included in Roanoke County’s Comprehensive Plan as and appendix. He has served on the County’s steering committee promoting a revamping of the planning process to provide more credence to geographic concerns, thereby balancing that with political input.
Eldon continues his practice from his studios and home located high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. His work now focuses on residential and light commercial projects. Land use planning and urban design remain a strong focus of his practice utilizing cutting-edge 3D technology. Since the early 1970’s, he has advocated and practiced efficiency through “alternative-energy” design and “green” building practices.
His home and studio have evolved from a preserved log cabin built in 1870. It embraces his reverence for the spirit of the past while remaining environmentally sensitive to the natural environment around him.

Leave a Reply