Workplace Design Trends

In early 2013, Gensler finalized the construction of Zilliant, the latest tech company in downtown Austin to redefine its office environment during the past decade. As the idea of collaboration spreads from a tech company trend to an all-encompassing focus in the interior design industry, the approach behind the new space for Zilliant was already moving beyond the very nature of the environment that it helped to define. The Zilliant space reflects a new focus being taken on the workplace by the interior design industry — a focus that was brought forward to the mainstream earlier this year through the…

Texas Dance Halls

Despite their importance and longevity as cultural institutions in the history of the state, dance halls are a relatively overlooked and under-researched category of Texas vernacular architecture. These structures, which initially functioned as multipurpose community halls in the 19th century before they became primarily associated with dancing and popular music in the 20th century, have played a fundamental role in the development of both rural and urban Texas communities, identities, and cultures. In the mid-to-late 1800s, as European settlers immigrated in large numbers to what is now central Texas, dance and multipurpose halls were often among the first structures raised…

Fire|Beach House

Sited on a sprawling lot on Cessna Road right next to Galveston’s Scholes International Airport, and surrounded by not much besides sandburs, the sea breeze, and the wide expanse of the airstrip, Fire Station 4 is a surprising piece of contemporary architecture. Designed by the Dallas office of the international firm HDR Architecture, the rectilinear, two-story building stands out on the flat landscape with a tripartite design composed of a translucent, polycarbonate base, a metal-and-wood-clad top, and an offset concrete tower linking the two.  “When we were selected for this project, I knew that we had an opportunity to design…

Exploring Future Workflows with TEX-FAB

There is an upcoming generation of architects who love to make things. These young designers are engaging in sophisticated workflows between design and construction that are laying the foundation for a newly organized architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. For those of us who have been practicing for some time, often in disbelief and astonishment at how buildings get built, this is really good news.  As an industry, we are in the early stages of what promises to be a paradigm shift in how architects, fabricators, and construction teams work together. It is enabled by new digital tools and techniques,…

Ryann Ford’s Rest Stops

In her series “Rest Stops: Vanishing Relics of the American Roadside,” Austin-based architectural photographer Ryann Ford documents rest areas along highways across the Southwest. Drawn to the simplicity of the structures set within stark landscapes, Ford selects sites featuring small covered picnic tables. The effort is timely, as many of these structures are quickly disappearing.  Ford asserts that the rest stops offer unique designs specific to the geography and culture of each location. Using old maps and Google Streetview as her primary research tools, Ford identifies locations to shoot over the course of a week-long road trip. As roadsides become…

Des M. Taylor, Hon. AIA (1943–2013)

Des Taylor, my friend and predecessor here as the executive vice president of the Texas Society of Architects, died August 27.  As much as anyone else, Des helped make this organization the exemplary AIA component model it is today through his vision, energy, and leadership. When he started working for the Society in January 1973 — a month shy of his 30th birthday, we had roughly 2,200 members, Texas Architect was a black-and-white monthly that averaged 24 pages per issue (counting 6-8 pages of advertising), and we had an annual trade show with 30-40 booths. By the time he left at the end…

Tour Italy and the Adriatic with Texas Architects: Sept. 10-19, 2014

"Here’s a golden opportunity to geek out on buildings and places in some of the most scenic cities in the world!" We are pleased to introduce the Society’s first opportunity in many years to participate in architectural travel: a luxury Silversea cruise from Rome to Venice taking place on September 10-19, 2014. This 9-night cruise truly encompasses the best of the Mediterranean. The itinerary includes visits to: Sorrento, Italy Amalfi Coast, Italy Sicily Corfu, Greece  Kotor, Montenegro  Dubrovnik, Croatia  Hvar, Croatia Zadar, Croatia  Venice, Italy Optional Rome/Slovenia pre- or post-stays Guided “on the ground” architectural tours (4 CEs each) will be…

Down and Up House

Karen Lantz, AIA, of Lantz Full Circle | Enter Architecture purchased a lot in Houston’s Ranch Estates subdivision in 2002 and then proceeded to think long and hard about the house she wanted to design there for herself and her husband, dentist Andrew Farkas. Ranch Estates is an anomalous subdivision in the museum district: two streets of low-ceilinged postwar ranch houses built in a part of the city that was otherwise developed in the 1920s.  Since the late 1990s, Ranch Estates has been transformed as new two-story houses, ranging in size from 3,400 sf to 4,700 sf, replaced the original…

2013 Design Conference Wrap-Up

The Second Annual Texas Architects Design Conference: Collections was held in Dallas on Feb. 22-24. The event, co-chaired by Michael Malone, AIA, and Mark Wellen, AIA, was based at the Dallas Center for Architecture.  New York architect Thomas Phifer, FAIA, opened the event with a discussion of selected residential and public projects produced by his office. Phifer spoke of “grounding” his work through reflections and transparency, and by blurring the distinction between architecture and landscape. His designs used perforated steel panels, glass, and trellises to filter sunlight, reflect surroundings, and open views to both immediate and distant landscapes.  Phifer also presented…

2014 Design Conference: Borderlands

Our Third Annual Design Conference: Borderlands took place in Austin on January 31–February 2, 2014. You can see the full schedule of events below. To read more about what happened and to see photos from the conference, check out the following reports: Reflections | Design Conference 2014 BLOG | DesCon 2014 Held in Austin   ABOUT THE 2014 DESIGN CONFERENCE Texas is often described as a country unto itself. If it were, it would have the 14th largest economy in the world by GDP (ahead of South Korea and the Netherlands). In the national rankings, our economy sits between those of California and New York.…