Architects Talking to Architects: Xavier A. Vargas, AIA

Xavier A. Vargas, AIA, works as a project architect for Randall-Porterfield Architects, based out of League City. Vargas is currently involved with a school renovation for HISD.

Xavier A. Vargas, AIA – photo courtesy Randall-Porterfield Architects

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Seabrook, Tex., or as I would tell people unfamiliar with the area, “near NASA.” Although it is close to the water and I passed by marinas everyday, I never ventured out into the water very often. However, I sure do enjoy the seafood. I guess that’s one of the reasons I haven’t left this area yet.

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

If I had not pursued a career in architecture, I would have pursued stage management. Similar to architecture, it is multifaceted profession requiring you to understand many disciplines and many moving parts to make for a successful show.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find great inspiration when I travel — whether it is traveling across the state or across the pond. It is always great to disconnect from my normal paths and patterns to find inspiration. If I am here at home and in need of inspiration, I usually investigate the newest TED Talks or watch the documentary Urbanized. Sadly, Urbanized is no longer available on Netflix, but it is available in the iTunes for rent or purchase!  

Chichen Itza Pyramid in central Mexico and the Louvre Pyramid in Paris are among the most inspiring places I've traveled to. – photos by Xavier Vargas

Do you listen to music when designing? If so, what kind?

Of course! Ever since my first days in architecture studio, it has been a necessity to have my headphones in and the music cranked up when I’m designing or studying. It helps me focus, and frankly it was my main energy source for the countless all-nighters. Music worked better than caffeine or energy drinks. As for the kind of music, it varies from project to project, but Radiohead always gets me in the right state of mind. Lately, my project playlists have featured artists like Odesza, Flume, and Glass Animals.

Architects aren’t known for their hobbies …. Do you have one?

Staying true to that statement, the closest thing I have to a hobby is playing and/or watching soccer. It is one of the few healthy things I do. I love playing any time and anywhere I can. I try to get on the field at least twice a week, and I try to go to as many Houston Dynamo games as I can.  

 At the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer match, Brazil vs. Mexico, at Estádio Castelão, Fortaleza, Brazil – photo courtesy Xavier Vargas

What type of advice would you offer to young professionals?

I would offer up the same advice that was given to me by my mentors — get licensed and get connected. When tackling the AREs and IDP, your local AIA chapter is a great place to look for support. At my local chapter in Houston, the Intern/Associate Network holds numerous workshops throughout the year addressing general and specific topics regarding licensure. Those workshops have really helped me better understand the process and exams.

Additionally, get connected to your community. I joined a local Rotary Club. Space Center Rotary Club has given me the opportunity to serve my community alongside professionals from other disciplines. I am learning what it takes to be a leader and give back to the community.

Check out Vargas' portfolio at xavier.archi.com.

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a series 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.​