Architects Talking to Architects: Darren Heine, AIA, of Brenham

Darren Heine, AIA, has lived in Brenham, Texas and practiced at BBA Architects for the past 26 years. He is a former president of the AIA Brazos chapter and currently serves as its Texas Society of Architects Director.

Darren Heine, AIA

Darren Heine, AIA, with his wife, Dayna -courtesy Darren Heine

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up on a farm/ranch in San Gabriel, Texas. When answering that question in public, I usually follow up the questioner's blank stare with my dry humor, explaining that San Gabriel is a suburb of Thorndale (population 1,031), which is where I went to high school.

When I was a senior, my Dad took me and a couple of other high school friends to UT Austin College Night one evening, and I met Nelda Lillie, the academic advisor for the School of Architecture (UTSOA). I was contemplating applying to engineering school and majoring in architectural engineering. She convinced me to apply to UTSOA instead. Twenty-five years later, here I am.

If you were not an architect, what other profession would you have pursued? 

I've been told by several recent-graduate employees in our office that there may be a college professor hidden somewhere inside me. At one time, I also contemplated being a pastor or band director. I was in the Longhorn Band all five years of architecture school and still enjoy participating in the Longhorn Alumni Band. 

UT Longhorn Band

In the UT Longhorn Alumni Band -courtesy Darren Heine

Although all of these professions are very different, each has the potential to leave an impact on people's lives. I know that's a strange mix, but I think most architects have multiple hidden, seemingly divergent talents and interests.

What sort of personal activities do you enjoy when you aren't at work?

I enjoy photography and traveling/spending time with my wife. I'm an internet/information junkie. And I do what most architects do when they aren't at work: I enjoy visiting and reading about architecture.

Nuestra Senora del Carmen Catholic Church

From our travels. The Nuestra Senora del Carmen Catholic Church in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico -photo by Darren Heine

Pen, pencil or computer?

I use all of the above, but which one depends on the thought process at the time. I find that I'm able to explore initial design concepts best with pen and pencil. I work primarily in plan and section initially, depending on the project, moving quickly from sketches into CAD. I've used BIM, but I found it challenging for me because it totally changed my process. But I’m working on that. I'm also finding that as I get older, I sometimes think more in detail before overall form and massing.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’d say most of my inspiration for design comes from clients, the building location, and the history of the place. I hope our buildings reflect that more so than a personal style. I enjoy bringing the passion I have for the building to the clients, and then seeing their response. I'm also finding more inspiration in the little things and enjoy photographing textures of materials and their composition.


"Textures," photographs taken across Texas, from Galveston to Marfa, mostly while attending TxA Board meetings. -image by Darren Heine.

A few years ago, we incorporated our first rainwater harvesting system on a project. That experience brought to light how much water is used for landscape irrigation and how much is wasted. I appreciate more how native plant species respond to the climate and believe our buildings should be appropriately responsive. I also appreciate the history of how and why certain mostly locally available materials were used, and the craft involved, and I try to use that common sense approach in material selection and decision-making regarding sustainable practices. I think best when mowing my lawn.

Citizens State Bank, Navasota

A cistern for rainwater harvesting at the Citizens State Bank in Navasota -photo by Ben Boettcher, courtesy Darren Heine

What community activities do you participate in? 

I've been on a few city and church boards over the years, most recently on the City of Brenham Downtown Master Plan Steering Committee and the subsequent Main Street Brenham Planning Committee to guide the master plan implementation. The general public appreciates an architect's problem-solving abilities/processes. On the whole, we architects need to be more assertive and speak up about the things we are passionate about. I've found that our clients want us to lead. Credibility and trust are earned as a result.

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a column on the Texas Architects blog that spotlights architects from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of 10 questions with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. If you would like to join in this conversation and be featured in "Architects Talking to Architects," email