Thomas McKittrick, FAIA: 1934–2013
Thomas McKittrick, FAIA, of Houston, professor emeritus at the Texas A&M College of Architecture and a former president of the Society, passed away on April 23. Three of McKittrick's close friends and colleagues — John Only Greer, FAIA, Richard Payne, FAIA, and Martha Murphree, Hon. AIA — shared their personal and professional recollections of the architect with Texas Architects.
In deed and in practice, I knew Tom McKittrick, a good man, a good architect, and a good teacher. When we lost Tom McKittrick, we lost some of the best of ourselves. His teaching career began after he developed a very successful architectural practice, which was headquartered in Houston. Tom made significant contributions in education and teaching. His initial BArch education was at Rice, and major contributions in practice were initiated in Houston. After a very successful career in architectural practice, Tom took his advanced degree from Texas A&M University and on completion, chose to teach Architecture at Texas A&M until his retirement. He was also the president of the Texas Society of Architects in 1984. A practitioner, professor and friend, he will be missed. — John Only Greer, FAIA
Tom and his partners at McKittrick Drennan Richardson & Wallace commissioned me to begin photographing their work in about 1970. While I have remained friends with many of my clients and former clients over the years, Tom and his wife Barbara became much closer to me and my family. Tom and I seemed to have the same ideas about architecture — not only the practice and business of architecture but about its potential as a life force. Architecture was our topic.
Tom, while teaching at Texas A&M, secured a position for me there teaching both design and photography, and there I got to witness first hand his special, gentle, and inspirational way with students. He had a great and positive impact on all who knew him at A&M — students and teachers. Students who go on to practice architecture will not forget his influence. His contributions to the profession, local, state and national are well known and much too numerous to list here. He gave of his time and energy to an extent far beyond anyone I have known.
He will be missed — both professionally and personally — by his friends at Rice University, Texas A&M, and the AIA, and a great many people, like me, who were privileged to know him.
I'm not really sure why our friendship quickly began to range far beyond architecture and photography. Somehow we just clicked. No doubt there are many others who would say the same. We are both fathers of two children, so family became part of our concern and conversation. He and Barbi raised two lovely talented women — one an architect and the other a teacher. Together we have watched our children grow up. Over the years we had many discussions, lovely dinners at Tom's home, drives around the city watching it evolve, trips — the last a trip to Scotland to see the work of Rennie McKintosh.
If I might be permitted a more personal note: The line between a friendly acquaintance and a true and valued friend is often blurred and one that might on occasion fluctuate. But I can draw that line distinctly about my friendship with Tom and Barbi. I have long regarded their professional and private lives — and especially their marriage — as the standard by which I have measured and critiqued my own shortcomings and the personal problems I have had, and I probably share this with many others who have watched Tom and his family grow. I suspect we have all looked at Tom, Barbi, Kimberly and Melanie with admiration and perhaps a touch of envy. Simply put, Tom was my best friend for over 35 years. I miss him already, and frankly, I'm mad that he is gone. I feel, in some way, damaged and deprived. — Richard Payne, FAIA
My experience of Tom McKittrick is a thread of passion, commitment, and perseverance — in issues important to him and to the profession that I had the honor and pleasure of learning from him and joining him in the pursuit of. And, of course, my involvement with the profession was altogether his doing. His passions were architecture, of course, the city, and education. He was forward-looking, a courteous and respectful fighter, and a well respected giant in the profession and in his personal life. I am grateful to have been his friend. — Martha Murphree, Hon. AIA