Architects Talking to Architects: Beth Brant, AIA
Beth Brant, AIA, works at DSGN Associates as a project architect and director of sustainability. Brant received her Masters of Architecture from the Texas A&M University College of Architecture. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two beagles in Dallas.
Beth Brant, AIA – photo courtesy Beth Brant
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Garland, Texas. Growing up in suburbia can be pretty boring for a kid. In my middle school days, just walking to the convenience store down the block seemed like a pretty daring or rebellious thing to do.
Mark T. Wellen on CRAFT
"It was impossible not to be inspired sitting in the Little Chapel in the Woods soaking up the genius that was O’Neil Ford and thinking about all the craftspeople who contributed with such conviction to that place," writes Mark T. Wellen. - photo by Alan Roberts
Mark T. Wellen, FAIA, is a veteran when it comes to Texas Architects Design Conferences, having co-founded the annual event and attended all four so far. The conference, which brings together some of the best minds in the profession to focus on central theme, provides attendees with a smaller, more intimate setting than our Annual Convention. This year, architects explored the theme of CRAFT in Denton, home to many works by O'Neil Ford.
Read more of Wellen's recollections from the 2015 Design Conference.
Project ArchiTX: Castano House
Craig McMahon Architects' renovation and new addition to a San Antonio home responds to the South Texas climate and employs a simple materials palette to achieve continuity.
Project Castano House, San Antonio
Architect Craig McMahon Architects
Photographers Dror Baldinger and Mark Menjivar
Craig McMahon Architects’ Castano House is a subtle statement in site efficiency and maximizing an enjoyable aspect of the South Texas climate: its Gulf Coast breeze. The San Antonio-based architect approached the renovation and new addition to the home with a pared-down philosophy regarding space and materials.
The original stucco finish was stripped from the existing house, exposing the concrete structure, and a new rear concrete addition was constructed. Site orientation and passive cooling strategies maximize energy efficiency. A unique, double tilt-wall concrete panel system in the main building was furred out to increase insulation possibilities. The addition is oriented toward the south/southeast, and the numerous operable windows all allow prevailing breezes to pass through the house. Large overhangs protect interior spaces, ensuring zero heat gain from the harsh sun, even on the generous expanses of glazing — including the west-facing clerestory windows.
Project ArchiTX: South Texas Heritage Center
Ford, Powell, & Carson elegantly bridges the past and future with the restoration of The Witte Museum's Pioneer Hall and the creation of a glassy addition.
Project Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center, San Antonio
Client The Witte Museum
Architect Ford, Powell, & Carson
Photographer Dror Baldinger
Architects Talking to Architects: Christopher Ferguson, Assoc. AIA
Christopher Ferguson, Assoc. AIA, is a designer at Clickspring Design, co-founder of DO.GROUP DESIGN, and graduate of The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. He has an 8-year-old Cornish Rex named Little Bit and enjoys telling bad jokes.
Christopher Ferguson, Assoc. AIA - photo courtesy Christopher Ferguson
If had not studied architecture, what other profession would you have pursued?
In first grade, I decided to become a bug doctor, and for a while I was pretty adamant about that career choice. My homeroom teacher urged me to become a veterinarian instead, but I knew that was only because she thought insects were icky. (That's right, Mrs. Janes, I'm calling you out!)
I would love to be a teacher someday. I've been lucky to have had many great ones at every stage of my education. I would like the chance to return the favor.
2015 Design Conference: Recap
Despite snow and freezing rain, the Texas Society of Architects’ 2015 Design Conference: CRAFT took place in Denton this past weekend. The weather conditions required some rearranging of event activities, but all in all, the Design Conference was a wonderfully intimate and stimulating event.
Project ArchiTX: Palma Plaza House
Contemporary cool meets neoclassical character in Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects' Austin family residence renovation, Palma Plaza House.
Project Palma Plaza House, Austin
Client Ryan and Kim Battle
Architect Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects
Photographers Atelier Wong Photography; Whit Preston Photography; Casey Dunn
The clients, a family of four, began their search for a new home with one thought in mind: "Keep your eyes open for a smaller, centrally located, older home with renovation potential." Once the perfect 1935 Greek Revival cottage was located, the creative family brought in Austin-based Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects to begin the remodel.
Architects Talking to Architects: A.J. Sustaita, AIA
A.J. Sustaita, AIA, is a project architect working in the education architecture department of Corgan in Houston. He is a senior editor and contributing writer for YAF Connection, the official e-magazine for young architects produced by AIA's Young Architects Forum. He is also the 2015 chair of the AIA Houston Intern/Associate Network.
A.J. Sustaita, AIA –photo courtesy A.J. Sustaita
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, which is a neighboring city to Houston. Technically, my family and I moved to Sugar Land when I was in the fifth grade from a small Houston community named Alief. Since the vast majority of my childhood and teenage years were spent in Sugar Land, I’ll always consider it to be where I’m truly from. It was there that I played in the backyard with my younger sister Ashley and would later go on to meet friends that I still have to this day. It’s a great city; it has a suburban feel with urban amenities. I love it so much that it’s where my wife Melissa and I decided to raise our two boys, Tristan (4 years old) and Ezra (1 year old).
Project ArchiTX: Sundance Square
Surrounded by a pedestrian-centric, urban landscape and thoughtfully articulated buildings, Sundance Square, by David M. Schwarz Architects, Bennett Benner Partners, and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, brings community space back to downtown Fort Worth.
Fort Worth civic life bustles with the square's multiple programs, including a stage, a jetted fountain area, and shading from invertible umbrellas –photo courtesy Sundance Square Plaza
Project Sundance Square, Fort Worth
Client Sundance Square
Design Architects David M Schwarz Architects
Architect of Record Bennett Benner Partners
Landscape Architects Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
Photographer Steve Hall
The completion of Sundance Square and two adjoining buildings in November 2013 marked a milestone achievement in the downtown Fort Worth renaissance, bringing new residents, new services, and a spectacular civic gathering space to the neighborhood and the city.
Sundance Square is the primary outdoor public-gathering space in downtown Fort Worth, and one of the most
significant outdoor gathering spaces in the entire region. The importance of such a citizen-minded plaza was
identified when its development plan was first drafted in 1988. Since then, downtown Fort Worth has seen the development of dozens of new buildings, and the cultivation of a walkable, pedestrian-oriented urban environment.
Advocacy Day 2015: Recap
Every other year, architects from across Texas convene at the State Capitol to advocate for the profession. On February 10, our Third Biannual Advocates for Architecture Day began at the Blanton Museum of Art for training and concluded at the Capitol with architects visiting state House and Senate offices.
Architects Talking to Architects: Adam Thomason, AIA
Adam Thomason, AIA, works at Omniplan as a project architect. He graduated from the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. The majority of Thomason's work has been in commercial retail and multifamily residential projects. Currently, he is working on construction administration of a mall renovation in Littleton, Colorado. His interests include running, hiking, camping, sports, and riding his scooter around town.
Adam Thomason, AIA, and his wife, fresh off the Louisiana Half Marathon –photo courtesy Adam Thomason
Where did you grow up?
That's a tough question for an Army brat. I was born in Iran and eventually ended up in San Antonio. In between that time, “home” has included Ft. Sam Houston, Texas; Columbus, Georgia; Woodbridge, Virginia; West Berlin, Germany; and Colorado Springs, Colorado. I've stayed in Texas since graduating from Texas A&M.
Two Texas Architects Honored With AIA's 2015 Young Architects Award
Derek C. Webb, AIA (L) and Jim Henry, AIA (R) are among the 14 recipients of this year's AIA Young Architects Award. - photos courtesy the honorees
On January 26, the American Institute of Architects announced the recipients of its 2015 Young Architects Award. This honor is given to professionals who have been licensed 10 years or fewer and have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession early in their careers. Two of this year's 14 recipients, Derek C. Webb, AIA, and James "Jim" Henry, AIA, are Texas Society of Architects members. Congratulations, Derek and Jim!
Project ArchiTX: North Bayfront Park
With North Bayfront Park, Gignac & Associates and Sasaki Associates have transformed Corpus Christi's automobile-populated, seafront landscape into a public green space featuring sustainable technologies and fostering coastal community.
Project North Bayfront Park, Corpus Christi
Client City of Corpus Christi
Architects Gignac & Associates and Sasaki Associates
Photographer Eddie Seal
Following a devastating Category Four hurricane in 1919 that destroyed downtown, Corpus Christi filled a block into the Corpus Christi Bay to construct a new sea wall that would protect the community from future disasters. Since that time, the bayfront has been defined by Shoreline Drive, a wide boulevard designed preliminarily for automobiles, and has provided limited spaces for pedestrians in the hot South Texas sun.
FCDC Releases Nature Preserve Site Photos
The deadline for early bird registration for the Field Constructs Design Competition (FCDC) is quickly approaching. Earlier this month, questions and answers were posted to the competition’s website, fieldconstructs.org. Pithy data, including links to soil reports and images of the site, the Circle Acres Nature Preserve in Austin, were included in the document. The site — a former quarry, turned landfill, now nature preserve — encompasses four ecologies: paths, grassland/landfill, wetland, and forest. The images released are striking and show how the topography changes from areas of dense vegetation to open prairie.
Several photos are included below; more are available via the FCDC Dropbox folder.
Architects Talking to Architects: Nick Kovach, AIA
Nick Kovach, AIA, is a BIM manager at BOKA Powell and vice chair of the Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Committee for AIA Dallas.
Nick Kovach, AIA - photo courtesy of BOKA Powell
If you were not an architect, what other profession would you have pursued?
It seems fairly obvious as a BIM manager that I have a technical side, but I have always really enjoyed computer programming. I believe that the process of architecture is explaining something complex using simple instructions. This seems to be similar to the process of writing code. Honestly, I have been programming since I was eight years old. However, I have always felt that if I made it my profession, I would end up disliking it. Without time constraints or deadlines, programming is still quite enjoyable to me.
Project ArchiTX: St. Andrew’s Episcopal School – Dell Fine Arts Center
STG Design illustrates its deft design ability in the execution of a large-scale theater program focused on audience intimacy at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School.
Project St. Andrew's Episcopal School — Dell Fine Arts Center, Austin
Client St. Andrew's Episcopal School
Architect STG Design
Photographer Casey Dunn
STG Design designed and master-planned the St. Andrew's Episcopal high school campus in 1997. The Dell Fine Arts Center is the last element necessary to complete the school’s vision. The 46,400-sf structure consists of a 400-seat proscenium theater and a 125-seat black box theater. With an emphasis on intimacy, the design began with a prerequisite maximum distance of 70 feet from any spectator to the actors on the stage. Subdivided into two tiers, the auditorium space is proportioned to provide the sense of a “sold out” audience, whether 250 or 400 are in attendance.
Architects Talking to Architects: Clay Odom, Assoc. AIA
Texas Architects catches up with University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture Professor Clay Odom, Assoc. AIA, who talks to us about growing up with deep family roots in a small town, sourcing inspiration from nature, and immersing himself in the sonic worlds of Radiohead.
Clay Odom, Assoc. AIA - photo by Jesse Knish
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the very small town of Baird, Texas, near Abilene. You might say it’s not the type of place where big ideas in architecture and design are generated; however, what it lacked in cosmopolitan terms it made up for with the deep roots my family has there. I have family on both my mother and father’s sides that have been in and around that town since the 1880s. Needless to say, the sense of knowing where you came from was extremely important when I was growing up and still influences me to this day. I’d also say that the comfort of knowing that I had deep family roots made it easier to make decisions about expanding my horizons as I grew older.
Discovering Craft in Denton
TxA Design Committee Chair Brantley Hightower, AIA, invites you to join him in Denton for keynote presentations, tours, and much more at our Fourth Annual Design Conference: CRAFT.
At the end of February, I am planning to drive from San Antonio up the I-35 corridor. I will not stop in either Dallas or Fort Worth, but will instead continue north another half-hour to the small town of Denton. Although it is a lovely place to visit in its own right, my reason for making this particular trip will be to attend the Texas Society of Architects’ 2015 Design Conference: CRAFT.
Project ArchiTX: House 124
Candid Rogers Architect's House 124 launches Texas Society of Architects' newest blog series Project ArchiTX. The series highlights the outstanding architectural projects in Texas, as well as projects designed by Texas architects and designers. House 124 seemlessly fuses old world and contemporary urban style in a Victorian cottage in San Antonio.
Project House 124, San Antonio
Client Jack and Liza Lewis
Architect Candid Rogers Architect
Photographer Dror Baldinger
The residence at 124 Devine Street is a wood-framed Victorian cottage estimated to be built in the early 1900s. The original size of the three-room shiplap wood house was a little more than 600 sf. At unknown dates (est. 1940–1970’s), multiple additions were added to the rear to serve as additional bedrooms and bathrooms.
NFPA 285 Code Requirements: The Elephant in the Room
Fast Burn -via Flikr; Derek Gavey
Did you know that any cavity wall assembly with rigid foam insulation is required by the International Building Code (IBC) to have passed the National Fire Protect Agency (NFPA) code 285 assembly test? If you’re like most architects, contractors, and code officials — the answer is no. Incredibly, NFPA 285 has been in the code books since 1988 (although under different names).
2014 TxA Gift Guide
With the holiday season in full swing, the Texas Society of Architects has a list of must-see gifts, including Formwork Desk Accessories, Portland Growler Co., Sempli Bottle Openers, Wanderlust City Map Playmats, and Spanish ABC Blocks.
Architects Talking to Architects: Vincent Snyder, AIA
Vincent Snyder, AIA, started his firm, Vincent Snyder Architects, in Austin in 1995. The firm’s work ranges in scale from residential to institutional and is internationally published, exhibited, and recognized. Most recently, Snyder was the recipient of the 2014-2015 Rome Prize Fellow in Architecture at the American Academy in Rome.
Vincent Snyder, AIA, at the Gardens at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, Italy - courtesy Vincent Snyder
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a rural area near the small town of Wahoo, Nebraska, which is situated in the open landscape of the Great Plains. Both the name of the town and the friendly people remind you not to take yourself too seriously. One of the major reasons why my family and I chose to move to Central Texas 20 years ago, after living in several different cities, was Austin’s unique setting. Austin is located at the intersection of four major landscapes, one of which is the Great Plains. I really appreciate the easy access to the variety of rural areas around Austin. When we first arrived in Austin, it would only take you about 15 minutes to drive from the center of the city to the countryside. Although that amount of time has almost doubled, compared to many other major cities it is still relatively quick.
Tiny Victories Competition Winners
AIA Austin and Community First! announced the winners of the Tiny Victories design competition today. The contest sought innovative solutions for affordable, efficient housing and challenged architects to design safe, sustainable, quality microhouses for the homeless. The winning projects will be built at Community First! Village, a 27-acre master-planned community that will provide housing and a wide range of community resources for the disabled and chronically homeless in Central Texas. The initiative is a program of Mobile Loaves & Fishes of Austin. Construction of the homes is expected to begin in March of 2015.
Stephi Motal, AIA, Black + Vernooy Architects
- courtesy AIA Austin
Vanishing Rest Stops
Architectural photographer Ryann Ford is looking to document the architectural and cultural significance of America's vanishing rest stops by transforming her photo series of these landmarks into a book. "The Last Stop" Kickstarter campaign, which ends on December 16, aims to make this happen.
Near Post, Texas – U.S. 84 - by Ryann Ford
The Roses Underneath
C.F. Yetmen showcases her architectural knowledge in "The Rose Underneath," a post-World War II thriller with an architect hero at the heart of the story.
“The Roses Underneath”
Ypsilon & Co. Press (2014)
Review by Helen Thompson
One of the heroes in C.F. Yetmen’s enthralling debut novel, “The Roses Underneath,” is an architect, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to Texas professionals who recognize the author’s name. When she's not writing novels, Yetmen devotes her professional life to preparing nomination packages for AIA fellowship candidates. Clear writing and good research are tools of her trade. These habits fortify the gritty story line of her thriller, which takes place in the rubble of American-occupied Wiesbaden just after the end of World War II.