Andrew Grant Houston, Assoc. AIA, is a project designer at Derrington Building Studio in Austin.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and spent most of my years before college in San Antonio. However, I’ve also lived in other smaller cities in Texas — namely Uvalde, Del Rio, and New Braunfels. Additionally, I spent a summer in Pisa, Italy as a kid. The variability of where I grew up has impacted my understanding of Texas as an amazing place, while realizing that there is a big, whole wide world outside of our (great) state.
If you had not studied architecture, what other profession would you have pursued?
This is kind of a difficult question, because I have a lot of interests outside of architecture. Some of the other jobs I’ve considered include chef, opera singer, international ambassador, general entrepreneurship, and even becoming a racecar driver. What’s really great about architecture, though, is that it allows me to pursue these passions by working to design the places where all of these things can happen.
What sort of music do you like to listen to?
Another difficult question! I would say my love of music is only second to my love of architecture. I am always looking for new music — whether to listen to as I work or simply for leisure. My musical taste includes pop, EDM, alternative rock, some hip-hop, classical, and even a splash of country from time to time. I’m a frequent attendee of SXSW music shows. For those who haven’t attended — and those that have can attest — the tiny venues are packed to the brim with a lot of diehard fans going crazy for roughly 20 to 40 minutes at a time. There’s nothing quite like it.
Pen, pencil, or computer?
Pen, most definitely. What I really like about sketching or even drawing schematically with pens is that no line can be erased. Using a permanent medium pushes you to have a very cognizant hand when drawing and/or allows you to move freely with a consistency that you don’t get with a pencil. Also, I haven’t personally mastered drawing with a computer.
In line with my procilivty to draw with pen, I — like many other architects — avidly collect pens. I just picked up some Derwent Graphik line markers a few weeks ago; they are absolutely fantastic.
What is your favorite time of year?
My favorite time of year is spring. I always think of the return of trees and flowers as a time for new starts, as well as for reviewing goals made in the past. Plus, who doesn’t love bluebonnets?
Where do you find inspiration?
I draw inspiration from culture, which can be in the form of the culture that is inherent to the context of a project — the culture associated with the type of project I am working on — or my personal sense of culture. Growing up in a Hispanic household taught me the importance of honoring your history. Being an person of mixed race has given me a unique perspective on how a building or place can have both a historical significance as well as a individual significance to someone, as their perspective may be a complete departure from your own.
What is your favorite city to visit?
My favorite city to visit is Sydney, Australia. Although I’ve only gone once and it sounds pretentious to pick a foreign city, I hope you’ll hear me out!
I travelled to Sydney when I was returning from a studio project in Tasmania. Stopping in Sydney was completely separate from the school trip and was my first time in a foreign country on my own. The city had this logic to it where it seemed that everyone had a place to be and there was a space for anything and everything to happen. I logged a good 20 miles worth of walking across about Sydney — including from Bondi to Coogee Beach. I encountered many great buildings and noticed the flow of the city as skyscrapers acquiesced to shopping centers and then to little residential neighborhoods. Not to mention, the city has one of the best public transportation systems I’ve ever experienced. It’s certainly a place that I at the very least want to visit again, but perhaps in the future, I could live there.
Harbor Bridge in the wonderful city of Sydney, Australia –photo by Andrew Houston