Overheard at the 2016 Design Awards Jury


The 2016 jurors, down to their final few projects.] – photo by Elizabeth Hackler

On May 5 and 6, the 2016 TxA Design Awards jury gathered in Austin to deliberate over 285 projects. Thomas Hacker, FAIA, Mauricio Rocha, Dan Wheeler, FAIA, and Clive Wilkinson, FAIA, had a lively discussion as they narrowed down the projects to the eventual winners. Their conversation spanned the breadth of Texas architecture and beyond. Below, I have provided a selection of their most memorable quotes from the final round of deliberations on Friday morning.

Mauricio Rocha, who had finally gotten a full night’s sleep after a day of travel on Thursday: “Now, you meet me.”

“The bottom is like what a woman is wearing to a cocktail party, the top is what a man is wearing to a bar.” –Clive Wilkinson

“Those are the wrong dogs for that house.” –Clive Wilkinson

“Great trees here, guys!” –Dan Wheeler

“To put away is a way to design.” –Mauricio Rocha

“This has good furniture. The other ones didn’t have good furniture.” –Mauricio Rocha

“Dan, what if we found out this guy had nothing but classic bicycles?” –Thomas Hacker

“I had bad dreams about this one.” –Thomas Hacker

“Well, the users are computers.” –Clive Wilkinson describing a building some members of the jury thought might be inhumane.

“It’s a building for the highway.” –Mauricio Rocha

Charles Moore House

The courtyard at the Charles Moore House in Austin – photo by Elizabeth Hackler

After the deliberations ended and the work was done, we took the jurors on a tour of Austin, visiting the Charles Moore House and Alejandro Aravena’s dorms at St. Edward’s University. We really enjoyed getting to spend the afternoon with such distinguished architects and the members of our Design Committee.

In addition to the above pearls of wisdom, the deliberations yielded some good advice for future Design Awards entrants:

1. Provide pictures of projects from every angle.

2. Make the photo on the data sheet the best from the presentation, as often it will be what the jurors are reacting to.

3. End on a strong image—the last slide of the presentation should have an impact.

4. Less is more—presentations with too much detail or too many words can lead to more questions than answers.

5. Try again next year—the difference between the winners and the projects that just missed winning was very slight. 

The 2016 Design Award recipients will be announced on our website and social media on Wednesday, May 11!