Advocacy Update: Relevant Bills

As the 85th legislative  session started, we said, “If nothing other than the budget passes this session, we should consider it a success.” That is still a valid concept because the tenor of the legislature is so very tense, and many of the bills filed have been so contentious, that not only are their chances not good but the advisability of them becoming law are questionable, too. Still, we decided to advocate for several issues, mostly in conjunction with our friends in engineering and contracting. We are well positioned with those jointly sponsored bills, though increasingly nervous about there being…

Advocacy Update: State vs. City

A long-standing political saw seems to be “evolving” in Austin. The old wisdom that the best governing decisions are made closest to home is being challenged with a new twist—that state government protection is needed against local overreach. The apparent “goose v. gander” theoretical inconsistency of applying that same twist to federal-state relations is waved away with: 1) since states had to approve formation of the national government, and created local governments, they rule; and, 2) market stability needs regulatory consistency, which only the state can provide (and the “hodgepodge” of varying local laws and rules only thwarts). As a result, there…

Architects Day Roundup

On February 7, Texas architects descended on the Capitol for a day of legislative action (and snakes!). Uniting behind a slate of priorities, including adequate funding for courthouse preservation, 186 TxA members formed 39 teams to meet with state lawmakers. After a morning briefing at the AT&T Center, architects assembled for a group photo at the Capitol, avoiding a tangle of rattlesnakes in a rotunda in the process. The image launched a thousand quips, and then everyone was off to the races. With packed agendas of meetings, each team met with a few of the Senators and Representatives for their…

This Week in Advocacy— HB 2170: Where Does Implied Warranty Belong?

For 110 years, Texas has relied on the same liability precedent when it comes to assigning responsibility between owners, contractors and architects. This precedent established by a 1907 Texas Supreme Court decision in the Lonergan case, which decided, “In the absence of an express contractual warranty running from the owner to the contractor that the plans were sufficient to construct he building, the contractor bears the risk of all losses arising from defects in the plans and specifications” (Sean M. McChristian, “Moving from Mastec to Metcalf). This decision, however, has been in conflict with a 1918 United States Supreme Court decision in…

Michelle Addington Named Dean at UTSOA

Starting July 1, Michelle Addington will be the Dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Currently, she serves as the Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture. Addington will replace Elizabeth Danze, FAIA, who has served as the school’s interim dean since last July. Addington has been educated in architecture and as an engineer, and her career has been wide-ranging. Before teaching at Harvard and Yale, she worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and as a manager at DuPont. She holds degrees from Tulane University and Temple University, as well…

Legislative Preview

With a new legislative session just beginning, David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, Senior Advocate, runs down some issues that could impact architects during this year’s Regular Session, which runs through Memorial Day. Big Picture Items Budget: With fewer dollars to spend on governing than two years ago, we could feel the impact, not only on huge, emotional items that have been well covered in the press, like Child Protective Services shortages and reforming public education funding, but also for smaller items like courthouse preservation, one of our priority issues. Who’s Calling the Shots? As big a question as the money is whether or not…

Cotton Gin Receives AIA Honor Award

AIA National recently announced its 2017 Honor Award winners. Among those was Antenora Architects’ Cotton Gin at the Co-Op District in Hutto. The project also won a 2016 TxA Design Award. The 23 national award winners were selected from over 700 entries for exemplifying architectural excellence. This year’s jury included: Mark Reddington, FAIA, LMN Architects (Chair); Gregory P. Baker, AIA, HNTB Architecture; David Cordaro, AIAS Representative; Leslie K. Elkins, FAIA, Leslie K. Elkins Architect; Timothy J. Johnson, AIA, NBBJ; William Q. Sabatini, FAIA, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini; Adrian D. Smith, FAIA, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Beatrice Spolidoro, Assoc. AIA, Rothschild Doyno…

Bullet Train Winners Chosen

The winners of Texas Central’s student design competition have been announced. The three winning proposals were selected from a pool of 45 submissions and 13 finalists. Their projects focus on innovation and sustainability. Each winning team received a $2000 prize and $5000 for their school. Station Architectural Design Prize: Julia Green, The University of Texas at Arlington Urban Design Prize: Dana Moore, Nathan Chen, UJ Song, Hannah Williams, and Alex Davila, The University of Texas at Austin Sustainable Design Prize: Ledell Thomas and Kaylah Wesley, Prairie View A&M University “The winners of this competition displayed truly innovative ideas, design creativity, and an emphasis…

Top 5 Reasons YOU (Yes, You) Should Go to Architects Day

1. You don’t have to know how to lobby. Experts and your colleagues will tell you all you need to know Tuesday morning before we head to the Capitol in teams of four. You will not be alone, and you do not have to speak if you are not comfortable. 2. Elected officials want to hear from “real people,” especially those from their districts. A State Rep or Senator will place more weight on a message that is coming from his or her voters. If the message is shared by a large group of constituents (like our alliance of architects,…

Check Your Selfie Before You Wreck Your Selfie

El Paso’s AGENCY Architecture designed a selfie wall installation as part of Chalk the Block, an annual event sponsored by the City of El Paso Museum and Cultural Affairs Department. The work, composed of 162 custom-fabricated units, invites the audience to question its perceptions of privacy in today’s selfie culture. In addition to the wall, a data scraping website will be produced that clarifies the path personal data takes on the internet. The striking structure, which the architects colloquially called the “Storm Trooper,” was built out of thin aluminum panels with a plastic interior. The pieces were folded in?to shape…