Bailey started his career in 1967 after receiving his Master of Architecture from MIT. He worked for Caudill Rowlett Scott and was a principal at Omniplan before founding Ray Bailey Architects, Inc., in 1975. His firm, now known as Bailey Architects, received 65 design awards during his tenure for a diverse range of projects, including commercial, residential, educational, and ecclesiastical work. Accolades included Texas Architects’ 2001 Firm of the Year Award and the 2006 Award of Excellence in Historic Architecture from the Texas Historical Commission, in recognition of the company’s long-standing commitment to historic preservation — something Bailey was especially passionate about.
A few of his firm’s most notable projects include the St. Anne Catholic Church sanctuary renovation, the John P. McGovern Stella Link Branch Library, and the recently completed University of Houston Health and Biomedical Sciences Center.
In 1989, Bailey was elected to the post of president of Texas Architects. Under his leadership, the Society set out to win passage of the Architectural Practice Act, something it had lobbied for in nearly every session of the legislature since 1939. Bailey worked with John Only Greer, FAIA, to devise a strategy, and with the help of many other dedicated supporters, these efforts succeeded in changing the state law governing the practice of architecture from a title act to a true licensing act.
David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, senior advocate for Texas Architects, worked closely with Bailey during that time. He recalls, “While Ray earned the reputation of great designer first and foremost, as president he became the Society’s consummate advocate as we pursued the act. He was a wonderful negotiator because he knew the business of successful practice. Ray knew where boundaries could and should be drawn, and he was ‘big picture’ enough to anticipate which groups might think they had a ‘dog in our fight’ as the bill moved through the legislative process of adjustment and compromise.”
After his term as Texas Architects president, Bailey continued advancing the profession through his work on the Texas Architectural Foundation (TAF), which ensures the availability of significant scholarships for students at accredited Texas architectural programs, and as founding president of The Architecture Center Houston Foundation, a catalyst for public understanding and interest in architecture and urban design. In 2010, Bailey was honored with the Texas Architects Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Honor of Llewellyn Pitts, the Society’s highest honor.
Reflecting on Bailey’s many achievements, incoming 2013 Texas Architects President Lawrence W. Speck, FAIA, comments, “Ray made a real and lasting contribution to the field of architecture in Texas. As an individual and firm leader, he showed us how to design and build in an exemplary fashion, and how architects can work effectively together to create a stronger profession.”
Speck and many others who had the opportunity to know Bailey believe that his personal qualities — and his roots — were a major reason why he was such a successful advocate. “Ray was a leader,” says Speck. “He gained an enormous amount of respect among his peers because he was a talented designer and did beautiful work, and his leadership was a natural outgrowth of that respect. But his personal traits significantly increased his effectiveness.”
Val Glitsch, FAIA, incoming 2014 Texas Architects president-elect, notes that despite his busy schedule, when she approached Bailey in 2011 to participate on the Honor Awards committee, he was genuinely happy to be included and faithfully contributed for two years. “Ray was a key player in helping us with our most difficult decisions,” says Glitsch.
Lancaster notes, “He was a ‘good ol’ country boy’ to his core, with basic Texan values obvious from the first handshake. He may have been an artistic, urbane designer, but he could still talk hunting, farming and ranching, sports, or just about anything else with some benighted legislator who would inevitably walk away convinced the two were kindred souls and that Ray was absolutely a man of his word — which he certainly was.”
Colleague Gerald Moorhead, FAIA, of Bailey Architects, states, “Ray's influence runs deep. Beyond his leadership in local and state organizations, beyond his commitment to charitable causes, and beyond the many achievements in fine building projects are his support and encouragement of the many young architects who have honed their talents at the firm. For the many who have worked with him, Ray's legacy will be his unwavering professional integrity.”
A unique talent and true gentleman who loved his family and his profession above all else, Ray Bailey will be deeply missed.