Architects Talking to Architects: Davey McEathron, AIA

Davey McEathron, AIA, is an architect at Carter Design Associates and co-founder of ¡el grupo! After touring with an array of indie rock bands through his 20s unencumbered by real responsibilities, McEathron recieved his Bachelors of Science in Architecure from Portland State University. Texas Architects caught up with McEathron post-final-ARE to learn about his journey to become an architect.

Davey McEathron, AIA, and his wife Rebecca out canoeing – courtesty Davey McEathron

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Alief, Texas. It’s a suburb of Houston. We moved every year when I was a kid, but we always lived in Alief. I went to six different elementary schools and three different middle schools. We moved every year when I was in high school, but we stayed in the same district. Every year, I was forced to make new friends. I was lucky enough to remain in the same high school, though. While all the moving may have been tragic at the time, I believe it made it easy on me as an adult to be able to meet new people and feel comfortable around strangers.

After high school, I moved to the Montrose — a neighborhood near downtown Houston that was in transition in the early 90s. The neighborhood was full of artists and musicians. It was a fun place to be. I was greatly shaped by my life in the Montrose.

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

I spent almost a decade singing and playing guitar in various indie rock bands from Houston and Austin. That was my first real passion. I love playing music for people, and I really love recording albums. I toured as much as I could — playing every corner of this country — from festivals to dive bars to basements. After a couple of promising record deals went sour, I started thinking about other paths that could give me more control over my career. Architecture was something I had never considered. Once it came onto my radar, it seemed like an obvious choice. The creative process for me is almost the same whether I am writing a song or designing a building. I just finished my AREs and am looking forward to playing music with some friends again.

Whether performing music or creaing architecture, McEathron thrives on the creative process. – courtesy Dana Titlebaum

Pen, pencil, or computer?

I generally like to start with a light colored pen when I want to sketch out an idea. I’ll switch to a darker pen once I feel like I am beginning to see something successful taking shape. To me, the remnants of the lighter pen and any futile efforts that may have been made with it are a beautiful part of the sketch. This is why I generally do not use pencil. It is too easy to erase and forget. I like to throw color into my skethes as well — usually with Prismacolors or watercolors. I will always switch into a 3D digital format as soon as I feel like I need to test out the idea. 

A sketch of a concept for a train station museum – courtesy Davey McEathron

Where do you find inspiration?

Austin is such a great city. It is filled with great people doing great things — food, art, music, performance, and architecture. I’ve traveled all over this country, and there are some great places, but there is something very special and very different about this place. I pull inspiration from all the energy here, and from my friends and peers.

The Moustache Ride installation at El Chilito cafe on Manor in East Austin, by ¡el grupo! – courtesy Davey McEathron

What is your favorite city to visit?

Monterosso al Mare, Italy. It is a small, picturesque town on the Northern coast of Italy with many bright, pastel-painted buildings lining the turquoise-colored Ligurian Sea. There’s not a lot to do there but to enjoy the sea, the hills, and the wine. It’s a great place to end a fast-paced vacation in Europe — a week in _______ , followed by a few days relaxing in Monterosso al Mare before returning to work.

Sketch completed during a 2011 visit of Monterosso al Mare, Italy – courtesy Davey McEathron

What is your favorite time of year?

Summer! I love taking road trips to the various swimmin’ holes and BBQ joints around Central Texas. My favorite place to cool off is, by far, Barton Springs. No matter how high into the triple digits the temperature gets, it never feels hot at Barton Springs. You can often find me there after work and on weekends with my lovely wife, Rebecca. 

Cooling off at Inks Lake during a hot summer afternoon in Central Texas – courtesy Davey McEathron

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a column on the Texas Society of Architects blog that spotlights members from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of questions with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. Is there someone you'd like to see featured in "Architects Talking to Architects?" Email communications@texasarchitects.org to let us know!