From an Architect's Desk
As National Architecture Week draws to a close, we invite you to contemplate the notion of the "Architect's Desk" with a video compilation of contributions to our recent Instagram hashtag event, #frommydesk, where we asked our followers to show us what it means to be an architect.
2014 Architizer A+ Awards: Texas Winners
With over 60 categories and 200 jurors, the second annual Architizer A+ Awards provided an opportunity to showcase global architectural achievements. Among this year’s winners were three of Texas’ own architecture firms: HDR Architects, Danze Blood Architects, and Bercy Chen Studio.
Galveston Fire Station #4 - photo by Andrew Pogue
HDR Architecture received a 2014 Typology award for its Galveston Fire Station #4. This project was a 2013 TxA Design Award recipient and was featured in the September/October 2013 issue of Texas Architect (TA).
Architects Talking to Architects: Nicholas Banks, Assoc. AIA, of Houston
Nicholas Banks, Assoc. AIA, is an architecture intern at PDR in Houston. In addition to architecural design, Nick also focuses on strategic planning, transition management, survey studies, data visualization, and graphics production. He received his Masters of Architecture from Texas Tech University in 2008.
Nicholas Banks, Assoc. AIA - courtesy PDR
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration within complex problems. I enjoy breaking down the issues, identifying what is wrong, and putting things back together to arrive at a successful solution. It's a great feeling to be able to fix a problem and make something even better.
500 Chicon: 2014 Design Awards Entries Are In!
2014 Design Awards entries flood the 500 Chicon reception desk - photo by Elizabeth Hackler
Yesterday at 5:00 p.m, the Texas Society of Architects closed the entry period for our 2014 Design Awards. The TxA Design Awards recognize outstanding architectural and urban design projects by architects practicing in Texas to promote public interest in design excellence.
Advocacy Update: The New World of Texas Politics — What It Means for You
About a week after the March 4th primary election, I addressed AIA Dallas’ Emerging Professionals leadership class where I asked them how many had voted. Of the 30 people in the room, only two hands went up — and one of those was mine! That’s about a 6.6% participation rate — abysmal, though unfortunately not that far off the statewide percentage.
To make matters worse, three Dallas-area legislators — all genuine supporters of the profession with numerous architect friends and truly qualified, intelligent solons — lost their races by a margin of less than 1%.
Architects Talking to Architects: John Gates, AIA, of McAllen
John Gates, AIA, is a principal at Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects in McAllen. In 2008, he was named a Citizen Architect by the American Institute of Architects for his seven years of public service to the City of McAllen’s Building Board of Adjustments and Appeals.
John Gates, AIA - courtesy Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Missouri. I lived near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in a town about 30 miles north of St. Louis called Florissant. After high school graduation, I moved to Lawrence, Kansas, to attend the University of Kansas. After college in 1992, the economy for architecture students was not too different than it is currently. I was fortunate to find a job in Park City, Utah, with a small firm called Form15 owned by Hank Louis, the founder of DesignBuildBluff. After about six years in Park City, I moved to Salt Lake City to work for a larger firm. I got married in 1997, and a year later my wife was transferred to McAllen, Texas, where we have happily resided for the last 15 years.
Beyond the Boardroom: Three Days in D.C. at AIA Grassroots
I always enjoy going to Washington, D.C., and attending AIA Grassroots last week was no exception. Spending days in hotel ballrooms is not my favorite part of any conference, but Grassroots is all about reaching out to our elected officials concerning issues that are important to architects — so we headed for the Hill.
500 Chicon: Elizabeth Danze, FAIA, Talks Convention Futures
By Charlotte Friedley
Last month, the TxA Convention Futures Committee gathered at 500 Chicon, where I had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Danze, FAIA, a new member of the committee. Danze took some time to talk with me and shared her enthusiasm for the work the team is doing.
The Convention Futures Committee is responsible for helping to plan, not the current year’s convention, but ones in the years to come. Currently, Danze and the other committee members are focused on our 2015 Convention, which will take place in Dallas.
Architects Talking to Architects: Davey McEathron, AIA
Davey McEathron, AIA, is an architect at Carter Design Associates and co-founder of ¡el grupo! After touring with an array of indie rock bands through his 20s unencumbered by real responsibilities, McEathron recieved his Bachelors of Science in Architecure from Portland State University. Texas Architects caught up with McEathron post-final-ARE to learn about his journey to become an architect.
Davey McEathron, AIA, and his wife Rebecca out canoeing - courtesty Davey McEathron
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Alief, Texas. It’s a suburb of Houston. We moved every year when I was a kid, but we always lived in Alief. I went to six different elementary schools and three different middle schools. We moved every year when I was in high school, but we stayed in the same district. Every year, I was forced to make new friends. I was lucky enough to remain in the same high school, though. While all the moving may have been tragic at the time, I believe it made it easy on me as an adult to be able to meet new people and feel comfortable around strangers.
After high school, I moved to the Montrose — a neighborhood near downtown Houston that was in transition in the early 90s. The neighborhood was full of artists and musicians. It was a fun place to be. I was greatly shaped by my life in the Montrose.
Media and Technology in Architecture: The Morpholio Project App
Morpholio is part of a project geared towards architects and academics that provides digital tools for contemporary design practice and education. The Morpholio team has managed to round up some rather impressive sponsors, including Dyson, Herman Miller, and 3Form. The project's success can be seen with it massive list of collaborators from private practice and academia. Unlike many other similar services, Morpholio is free — although not without its limits.
Beyond the Boardroom: Looking Ahead in 2014
Texas Architects board members and leadership are staying up-to-date on developments with AIA, especially those related to changes in board restructuring. While it’s not a hot topic for most AIA members, how and by whom the Institute is to be governed into the future is an issue that will determine how effective the Institute becomes, and how effectively it represents its membership. TxA leaders have strong concerns about how local, state, and regional chapters will interact with the reorganized AIA board being proposed.
Architects Talking to Architects: Matthew Faulkner, AIA
Matthew Faulkner, AIA, recieved his Masters of Architecture from Texas A&M University. He continues to work in Bryan, where he has founded PACT Design Studio.
Matthew Faulkner, AIA - photo courtesy Ari Jones Photography
SNEAK PEEK at Texas Architect’s New Feature –– "Products"
In its March/April 2014 issue, Texas Architect will unveil a new addition to its table of contents –– “Products.” This new recurring section of the magazine allows the TA team to share with its readers the latest in architectural products and technological innovations.
Catherine Gavin, editor of Texas Architect, says that the inclusion of cutting-edge products will add a bit of diversity to the magazine by allowing it to cover a wider breadth of topics. It will also give the Society a chance to get to know more regional manufacturers and increase its pool of potential advertisers.
Architects Talking to Architects: Johanna Reed, Assoc. AIA
Johanna Reed, Assoc. AIA, works as a designer for the Austin-based firm Dick Clark + Associates. Before studying architecture, Reed studied literature, science, and art history at Hamilton College in Upstate New York. She recieved her Masters in Architecture from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012.
Johanna Reed, Assoc. AIA – courtesy Johanna Reed
Lorena Toffer, AIA, of Dallas Receives 2014 AIA Young Architects Award
Congratulations are in order for Texas Architect Lorena Toffer, AIA. Toffer, a member of AIA Dallas and an associate at Corgan, has been honored with a 2014 AIA Young Architects Award. This award is presented 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.
Lorena Toffer, AIA - courtesy Corgan Associates
Toffer is one of the 18 architects from across the country to receive AIA's Young Architects Award this year. A design leader, advocate for diversity and inclusion, and community activist who received her own chapter's Young Architect of the Year Award in 2011, she truly exemplifies servant leadership in architecture.
DesCon 2014 Held in Austin This Past Weekend
The Texas Society of Architects hosted our Third Annual Design Conference: Borderlands in Austin this past weekend, Jan. 31–Feb. 2. Over 50 people were in attendance for the three-day event, which was filled with presentations, tours, and stimulating discussions.
A gallery of Instagram images (#DesCon2014) shared throughout the weekend by attendees at our 2014 Design Conference: Borderlands.
Our presenters included a notable line-up of architects hailing from the lands bordering our state. Rand Elliott, FAIA, of Oklahoma City, Victor Legorreta of Mexico City, Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, of Fayetteville, Ark., and Victor Trahan, FAIA, of New Orleans, all spoke to the audience about the their progressive bodies of work. Just some of the many topics addressed included adaptive reuse, material palettes, budget constraints, modeling software, and ecological responsiveness.
Architects Talking to Architects: Julien Meyrat, AIA
Julien Meyrat, AIA, received his Masters of Architecture from The University of Texas at Austin. Julien currently works as an associate at RTKL Associates, where he specializes in the planning, designing, and documentation of commercial projects. Additionally, Julien serves as a board member for the City of Rockwall Architecture Review Board, a position he has held since January 2010.
Julien Meyrat, AIA visiting the Eiffel Tower with his 8-year-old son, Emile - photo courtesy Julien Meyrat
Bringing It Home: AIA Brazos Presents TxA Citation to Bryan City Council
By Eva Read-Warden, AIA
(Left to right) Eva Read-Warden, AIA, Bryan Mayor Jason Bienski, 2014 AIA Brazos President Andrew Hawkins, AIA, and members of the Bryan City Council - photo courtesy City of Bryan
During the 74th Annual Convention and Design Expo in Fort Worth this past November, the Texas Society of Architects presented a Citation of Honor to the 1999 – 2010 City Council of Bryan for its members' cohesive vision resulting in a rebirth of historic Downtown Bryan. Although the award was accepted in Fort Worth by former city council member Ben Hardeman, on January 14, AIA Brazos chapter members had an opportunity to locally and publicly present the award to the 23 people whom it was intended to recognize.
Architects Talking to Architects: Kirby Zengler, AIA
I was born in 1977 to a couple, with an older brother and sister waiting for me. I’ve been vying for attention ever since.
My father is an engineer and has been for quite some time; it keeps him out of the house. My mother was more on the “artsy side” (read: less drab) and spent a great deal of energy introducing the fine arts and its creative process to us kids.
Ever since then I have enjoyed painting and drawing but only at a leisurely pace. I suppose that is what eventually lead me to architecture; that and a damaging experience in my human figure drawing course during college. (long story)
So now you know me, but not really. I’ve left out a lot; but only the interesting parts.
-by Kirby Zengler, AIA
Kirby Zengler, AIA, is an associate at JHP Architecture in Dallas. He received his MArch degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and joined the firm in 2002. Zengler leads the Whole Community Design initiative on behalf of JHP.
Architects Talking to Architects: Ryan Flener, Assoc. AIA
Ryan Flener, Assoc. AIA, received his B.Arch in 2010 from the University of Tennessee College of Architecture & Design, where he was heavily influenced by the historical relationships between body and building. An intern architect at Good Fulton & Farrell, Flener has been actively involved with the Communications Committee since moving from his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky in late 2011. Ryan resides in downtown Dallas, where he often finds himself submerged in musical endeavors with The Town Planners, and in architectural design research under The Planning Agency.
Ryan Flener, Assoc. AIA. - photo by Nicholas McWhirter
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Louisville, which sits in north-central Kentucky on the Ohio River. It’s a really cool place, for those who haven’t been. It has unexpected characteristics of the northeast and southeast that resonate from the Civil War. Louisville, truly, is neither. It’s a city of 750,000 but functions like a small town; everybody knows everybody. I’m always impressed with each visit home. Louisville is moving in the right direction to make for a great city. Also, there’s no better place in the country to watch college basketball; fact.
Advocacy Update: Robinson Wins!
David W. Robinson, AIA, was elected to the Houston City Council, At-Large #2 post in last Saturday’s (December 14) run-off.
As expected, it was a close race with only three percent (3%), or 33,000 voters, returning to the polls. Various Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts made the difference: Robinson beat the incumbent, Andrew Burks, by roughly 500 votes.
The position is a two-year term, so we have a duly-elected Citizen Architect helping to lead the nation’s fourth largest city for at least that long. Congratulations, David! You’ve done all those architects who voted for you proud, and we know you’ll do a great job as a Houston City Councilman.
Photo via Houston Stonewall Young Democrats
Media and Technology in Architecture | Sourcing New Materials
As professionals responsible for the health, safety and welfare of our clients and the general public, we must carefully evaluate the materials and products that go into the buildings we design. The task of sourcing and selecting new materials for a project requires a significant investment of time, effort, and ultimately, money.
Associate Professor Donna Kacmar, founder and director of the Materials Research Collaborative at the University of Houston, understands this plight well. “It takes time to actually find new materials," says Kacmar. "And then, once you find something interesting, you need to know about its warranty, how is it installed, etc. All of this takes time and a commitment to innovation. Most project schedules, fees, and construction costs are not well suited to innovation.” Luckily, there are a number of ways to source, research, and try new products. A handful of resources are outlined below; after all, half the battle is often knowing where to start the search.
- photo by Brinn Miracle
Architects Talking to Architects: Danelle Briscoe, Assoc. AIA
Danelle Briscoe, Assoc. AIA, is an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture.
Danelle Briscoe, Assoc. AIA - photo by Whit Preston
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Galveston. I loved growing up on an island, especially one with so much history. The historic architecture engrained an appreciation for permanence from things that are well designed and made. At the same time, all the hurricanes and storms I experienced first-hand taught me how unstable anything can be in the face of the natural environment.
Justin Oscilowski, Assoc. AIA, Contributing to the Craft
Justin Oscilowski, Assoc. AIA, of PageSoutherlandPage jumped at the chance to volunteer for our 2013 Convention Committee and played a key role in transforming the ideas for our Craftsmen's Square into reality. Texas Architects' Robert Bennett interviewed him about his experiences.
Justin Oscilowski, Assoc. AIA - photo by Acme Brick
How did you first get started as a volunteer with Texas Architects?
Well, I started working for Larry Speck in May of 2012 at Page Southerland Page, and he’d mentioned to me that he really wanted to see the young architects at the firm get more involved in the community — to start volunteering more. So I asked him if he had any suggestions for getting involved.
Why the Convention Committee? That’s one of our most active and rigorous committees, so in a way it could be a bit like being thrown in the deep end.
It was one of the first ones he’d put forward. I think he definitely had an interest in having a young voice on the committee. I thought I could make a valuable contribution and was excited by the challenge.
Architects Talking to Architects: Francisco Gomes, AIA
Francisco Gomes, AIA, is co-founder of Gomes+Staub Architecture in Austin, and assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Since 1999, Gomes + Staub has offered architectural services for modern residential and public buildings. Currently, the practice is designing projects sited in Austin, Marble Falls, and Redding, Connecticut.
With my son Ansel, illustrating the rapt attention for each other that unconditional love engenders. - photo courtesy Francisco Gomes, AIA
Where do you find inspiration?
I find considerable inspiration in construction. Not just the materials and technical assemblies of our buildings, but the people, tools, and cultures of their construction. Many of my favorite architects — Eladio Dieste, Jean Prouvé, Alberto Mozo, Gilles Perraudin — are those who are designing not just the buildings, but also the way their buildings are made.
Lavaca Eclectic: Two Cases of a Contemporary Vernacular
By Phil Zimmerman, Assoc. AIA
Cool alleys and shaded side streets weave through a patchwork of bright, turn-of-the-century revivals and bungalows. Agave and prickly pear push from every weathered crack; oak and palm peek around every peeling fence and caliche stone carriage house.
The rich character of the Lavaca neighborhood south of downtown San Antonio has been steeping for well over a century. It quietly boasts some of the city's most historic structures: properties unassuming in scale and composed of a dense massing that often creates tucked-away courtyards and hidden gardens. The roots of the community reach back to its diverse working class of artisans, laborers, and shopkeepers. Lavaca's development over time has manifested a cultural and architectural palette that is earthy and utilitarian, pared down to a simple expression of local materials and vernacular form, along with relaxed function and embodiment of place.
San Antonio's Lavaca District: Historic Homes
By Rita Heck
In the early 18th century, San Antonio's Lavaca neighborhood was part of Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) farms watered by a Spanish-built irrigation ditch. Lavaca evolved in the middle of that century when Thomas J. Devine and Sam Maverick purchased a large tract, subdivided it, and sold it in lots for housing and retail.
Texas Architects Board Responds to AIA Restructuring
As our members may know from a previous blog entry by John Nyfeler, FAIA, the AIA Board is considering a change in its structure. The AIA governance proposal may be found here.
While board structure may not be a “hot” topic among AIA members, it is the mechanism that allows member voices to be transmitted to the AIA Board of Directors. How well that works — or doesn’t work — should be of high interest to AIA members and was for the most recent meeting of the Texas Architects Board of Directors.
After considerable discussion, the Texas Architects board unanimously approved the following motion to be conveyed to AIA:
- The AIA should focus on the prioritization of initiatives and the 10 elements of repositioning. After the highest priorities of the Institute have been delineated, the governance structures could be examined for changes.
- It is imperative that regional representation continues to be the basis for selection of membership to the decision-making board. The Texas Society of Architects is unwilling to support any bylaws amendment without this essential element.
- We concur that a smaller board should be considered and see no advantages to a two-chambered structure.
Bill T. Wilson II, FAIA, who served as the AIA Board representative from Texas for 2010-2012, has made a thorough investigation of the proposed design for the new board. His open letter to the membership addresses concerns that have been voiced by many.
I urge all AIA members to review the AIA governance proposal and read Wilson’s letter so as to be well informed. The AIA Board will consider this issue at its next meeting in December; Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, John Nyfeler, FAIA, and James Nader, FAIA, will represent Texas.
Should the AIA approve a new board structure, it will be further discussed at the AIA Grassroots meeting in March 2014, and the bylaws change delineating the new board structure will need to be approved by the membership at the AIA National Convention in Chicago.
Media and Technology in Architecture | Flipboard Aggregator App
I am a recent convert to Flipboard, owing the insight to having been assigned this review. Up to now, I have been solely following Zite, an earlier entry into the field of aggregators, or sites that re-publish articles in a single format from various sources, like magazines, newspapers, websites, and blogs.
In this day of exponentially increasing content, it’s useful, even necessary, to have a single place to go to for news on favorite subjects. Flipboard is, hands down, the more visual of the two apps. The photos are bigger and look great on an iPad:
Repositioning the Institute: What It Means to the Texas Society of Architects
As you know, for about a year, your AIA has been on a course to renew the AIA as a more valued and relevant organization at all levels of the professional society. Working with skilled consultants and listening to over 31,000 individual interviews, with major input from members like you and others with relationships with AIA, your board agreed in September of 2013 to take steps to:
- Elevate public awareness of the value of architecture and of the AIA,
- Advocate for the profession in the public and private sectors, and;
- Enhance the sharing of knowledge and expertise to the benefit of all AIA members.
Architects Talking to Architects: Helen Pierce, AIA
Helen Pierce, AIA, is an architect at Alamo Architects, a multidisciplinary firm based in San Antonio that specializes in institutional, educational, multifamily, and retail architecture, as well as urban planning.
Helen Pierce, AIA - photo courtsey Helen Pierce
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Middletown, Delaware. It's a tiny farm town on the Delmarva Peninsula midway between the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River and surrounded by potato, corn, and bean fields. I was born on a farm but grew up in town. We lived in a Sears, Roebuck & Co. mail order home, built in 1910, and we were pretty sure it was haunted. I've been growing up in San Antonio for the last five years, and I've also lived in Phoenix and Albuquerque. I'm making the grand tour of the Southwest.
Advocacy News: AIA Announces 2014 Call for Issues Survey
Dear Texas Society of Architects Members:
Last January the AIA announced its legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, Let’s Get America Building. Working together, we are making the case in Washington for policies that empower architects to design better buildings and communities.
But our agenda doesn’t spring from Washington; it comes from the AIA members like you and me. Your opinion is crucial to formulating this agenda, which is why I am asking you to join me in taking the 2014 Call for Issues survey.
Media and Technology in Architecture | Media Consumption: How to Get Your Fill
In today’s media driven age, we are bombarded with options for how to consume information. We can access websites on our computers, watch streaming videos on smart phones, and pull up books or magazines on our tablets with a simple touch of a button. For architects, there is an endless supply of expert knowledge and inspiration images available to us across the web. Finding the best way to organize and consume this content can be overwhelming — and it may be a deterrent to having the best information at your fingertips. This overview will outline some of the content types and how to get started on various platforms so you can get to the media you want faster.
Architects Talking to Architects: Alexer Taganas, Assoc. AIA
Alexer Taganas, Assoc. AIA, is a designer in Austin. He works with Webber + Studio Architects and is a founding partner of the design collaboration Cumulous. Taganas worked previously with Sauerbruch Hutton and received a Master of Architecture from The University of Texas at Austin in 2011.
Alexer Taganas, Assoc. AIA - photo by Thomas M. Barwick Inc.
Where did you grow up?
My family immigrated from the Philippines when I was young, and we first settled in San Francisco then Sacramento. I moved to New York City to start my independent life and have done stints in London, Berlin, and now Austin.
Beyond the Boardroom: Past Presidents Convene in Santa Fe
Every three years, the past presidents of the Texas Society of Architects come together in Santa Fe, N.M., for a meeting hosted by the current president-elect. This being one of those years, Val Glitsch, FAIA, hosted the event this past weekend at the St. Francis Hotel.
The point of the meeting is to provide an update about the Society, review actions of the last three years, and learn first-hand about upcoming goals.Twenty-six past presidents attended (see list at the end of this post) — about 10 more than were present at the last meeting in 2010.
Architects Talking to Architects: Christopher L. Sanders, AIA
Christopher L. Sanders, AIA is founder and principal of Sanders Architecture in Austin and has worked on projects ranging from single-family homes and boutique retail to million-sf commercial, entertainment, and hospitality properties. He earned his Master of Architecture degree from Texas A&M University.
Hiking with my son - photo by Chris Sanders
Where did you grow up?
Lufkin, Texas, in the heart of the Piney Woods. Most of my weekends were spent in the forests of the Neches River bottom, or if it was summer, at my family's lake house on Lake Striker. Time spent outdoors with my family — camping, canoeing, hunting and fishing — is when I learned to appreciate nature and to begin to understand man's effect on the natural environment. East Texans rely on the forests for industry, and my family was no exception. Trying to come to terms with my love of the land and the use of forests for industry provided some of my earliest lessons in sustainability.
Advocacy Update: SAC Fingerprinting Requirements
The Society's Senior Advocate David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, shares the Society's position on the Sunset Advisory Commission's fingerprinting requirement passed during the 83rd Legislative Session. The recommendation was part of the TBAE Sunset review bill.
Pardon the pun, but the 2013 legislative issue that has left the biggest imprint on AIA members has unquestionably been fingerprinting. We’ve heard more from members on that requirement, which is a Sunset Advisory Commission “boiler-plate” recommendation for every licensing agency going through its routine periodic Sunset review, than we have any other practice-related issue.
Important details to remember about this new requirement: 1) it doesn’t begin until January 2014 — there will not be any this year; and, 2) the fingerprinting will not be conducted by the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE), nor will the TBAE be the keeper of the fingerprints; that will all be done by the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Architects Talking to Architects: Yen Ong, AIA
Yen Ong, AIA, is a co-founder and principal architect of the award-winning international practice 5G Studio Collaborative. One of his early career highlights included the role of associate project architect on Renzo Piano's Nasher Sculpture Center.
Yen Ong, AIA - courtesy 5G Studio Collaborative
Where did you grow up?
Before I was seven, I grew up in a poor neighborhood surrounded by slums in Jakarta, Indonesia; it was then a city two-thirds the size of Dallas having 6.5 million citizens. My parents began their business by selling electronic spare parts at half-a-penny each while supporting three young children; I did not realize then the magnitude of their burden. I learned to live very modestly early in life and to navigate the unregulated, dense urban living conditions all around me.
Beyond the Boardroom: TxA Board Meeting Held in Vancouver
The Texas Society of Architects Board of Directors met in Vancouver, British Columbia on July 26-27 with a full agenda!
President Larry Speck, FAIA, opened the meeting and congratulated Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, on her recent election as AIA President-elect. He reviewed the Society's progress this year, discussing committees; the Design Conference success; Advocates for Architecture Day at the Capitol and the successful 83rd Legislative Session; the improvements in Texas Architect and kudos on the most recent issue; and ever-increasing traffic on www.texasarchitect.org.
Aerial view of Downtown Vancouver's waterfront. The new convention center on the right with Canada Place front and center. - photo by istockphoto; dan_prat
The board received reports from all standing committees providing updates on the progress of their work on behalf of the Society. These reports may be found on each of the committee pages.
Architects Talking to Architects: Christy Seals, AIA, of Austin
Christy Seals, AIA, is an architect and founding partner at Loop Design, a firm that specializes in residential design projects with expertise in rainwater collection and other sustainable building systems. Seals earned her Masters of Architecture from The University of Texas at Austin and has worked in construction and architecture, driven by an interest in experiencing directly how buildings come to be, and the different roles the architect can play in this process.
Christy Seals, AIA - courtesy Christy Seals
Where did you grow up?
Mainly in Yorktown, Virginia — home of battlefields from the Revolutionary War and the cave where Cornwallis holed up at the end of that war before the British surrendered. My father worked for NASA his whole career, so we moved back and forth between the headquarters in Washington D.C. and the Langley Air Force base location near Yorktown.
Do you have a particular sort or brand of pen that you prefer when sketching?
I used to work with a guy who sketched on yellow trace with a fountain pen filled with brown ink. I was mesmerized by that thick, lovely flowing line. I wanted to be like him. But the reality is that I am a messy sketcher, so my pen needs to not be. So I use the Uni-ball roller pen with the micro point.
Architects Talking to Architects: Gianna Pigford, AIA, of Dallas
Gianna Pigford, AIA, is an architect at Gensler in Dallas, where she serves as project architect on a variety of hospitality and retail projects, including the renovation of Reunion Tower in Dallas, which is currently in progress. Gianna serves on the national board for the National Organization of Minority Architects and spends time mentoring and advocating for women and youth.
Gianna Pigford, AIA - courtesy Gianna Pigford
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Petal, Miss., a small, rural community located about 90 miles north of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Small-town Mississippi life can be both stimulating and frustrating at the same time, but I do treasure the wealth of character that this upbringing gave me. Without much available entertainment, I spent most of my time reading, drawing, and daydreaming. It has certainly influenced the way I interact with people and made me the constant observer that I am. I value my parent’s tutelage and my family’s support, and I appreciate those who bridged the gap for me so I could become an architect. In a place such as Petal, everyone pretty much owns a piece of what makes you You.
Architects Talking to Architects: Roman McAllen, Assoc. AIA
Roman McAllen, Assoc. AIA, is a planner for the City of Brownsville and coordinator of its Historic District Facade Improvement Grant Program. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and has a strong interest in historic preservation.
Roman McAllen, Assoc. AIA - photo by Alejandro Bastida, courtesy Roman McAllen
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Windsor Village, a well laid out, modest, working class, suburban neighborhood in Houston built in the late 1950s and 60s. All of the streets are named after cities and towns in England such as Sheringham, Oakham and Bridlington. For a time, in about the 8th grade, I was a paper boy and delivered the Houston Chronicle from the high perch of my father’s 5-speed Schwinn Suburban. I was unaware of it then, but I was beginning to build my mental library of the typology, quality and siting of typical post-war American track housing.
Architects Interviewing Architects: Matt Fajkus, AIA, of Austin
Matt Fajkus, AIA, is the principal architect at Matt Fajkus Architecture in Austin, Texas. The award-winning firm, informally known as MF Architecture, focuses on sustainable residential design and small-scale installation. Matt is also an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin.
Matt Fajkus, AIA - courtesy Matt Fajkus
Where did you grow up?
I spent most of my childhood in the Austin area, and I went to high school in Elgin, Texas, where I was the fifth generation to live in a house on Main Street. I fell asleep to the sound of train whistles in the night, and did a fair amount of yard work, which I dreaded in the heat of the summer. I had a fascination for sketching and creating at a young age, but I also spent a lot of time outdoors, often attempting overly ambitious bike riding stunts, which resulted in getting stitches several times.
Advocacy Update: Texas 83rd Legislative Session Wrap-up
Texas Architects Senior Advocate David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, recaps the Society's advocacy work during the 83rd Regular Legislative Session, which concluded on May 27.
Inside the Texas State Capitol dome. -photo by Elizabeth Hackler
After the tremendous success the Society achieved during the 2011 legislative session, its Government Affairs Steering Committee approved a lower-key approach for the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, one focused on ‘Sunset and Sustainability.’
Texas Architects saw their Practice Act successfully extended for another 12 years with the passage of HB 1717 (Rep. “Four” Price / Sen. Robert Nichols), the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) sunset bill, and contributed significantly in shaping the final language of SB 211 (Sen. Nichols, Rep. Harold Dutton), the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) sunset bill.
Architects Talking to Architects: Darren Heine, AIA, of Brenham
Darren Heine, AIA, has lived in Brenham, Texas and practiced at BBA Architects for the past 26 years. He is a former president of the AIA Brazos chapter and currently serves as its Texas Society of Architects Director.
Darren Heine, AIA, with his wife, Dayna -courtesy Darren Heine
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a farm/ranch in San Gabriel, Texas. When answering that question in public, I usually follow up the questioner's blank stare with my dry humor, explaining that San Gabriel is a suburb of Thorndale (population 1,031), which is where I went to high school.
When I was a senior, my Dad took me and a couple of other high school friends to UT Austin College Night one evening, and I met Nelda Lillie, the academic advisor for the School of Architecture (UTSOA). I was contemplating applying to engineering school and majoring in architectural engineering. She convinced me to apply to UTSOA instead. Twenty-five years later, here I am.
Architects Talking to Architects: Bob Bullis, AIA
Bob Bullis, AIA, is client relations director for Rogers-O’Brien Construction in Dallas. He also represents the interests of local architects as a member of the AIA Dallas Board of Directors. Bullis received his Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), where he also served as an adjunct professor teaching design and watercolor studio. He advocates for sustainable design, virtual design and construction, and champions collaboration between design and construction professionals. He is an architect’s architect and values the role architects play in the construction process as visionaries, problem-solvers, and the caretakers of the health, safety and welfare of the community.
Bob Bullis, AIA - photo courtesty Bob Bullis
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Austin but was raised in Buffalo, NY, mostly known for its record snowfalls and relentless winters. Looking back, my childhood hometown was fairly Rockwell-ian. We lived in a turn-of-the-century clapboard home located on the village green (Veterans Park) along with City Hall, the post office, the elementary school, two churches, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Hall, and the Boys Club. Our front porch, and those of our neighbors, lined the park on three sides; the fourth side was home to the civic structures.
Architects Talking to Architects: Murray Legge, FAIA
Murray Legge, FAIA, is a principal at LZT Architects in Austin and a founding member of the interdisciplinary group Legge Lewis Legge. His work ranges from architecture and landscape design to public art, and he has been the recipient of many local and national awards, including the prestigious Lyceum Fellowship.
(L-R) Eva Legge, Lucy Lewis, and Murray Legge in Oliphant, Ontario. - Photo by Deborah Eve Lewis (mother of Eva, co-master of Lucy, and wife of Murray)
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the small farming hamlet of Whitevale, outside of Toronto, Ontario. It was a tight community of about 100 families surrounded by farmland and wilderness. This historic town had a vibrant mix of people — about half were writers, filmmakers, engineers, and actors who worked in Toronto, while the other half were farmers, millwrights, and blacksmiths who worked in the surrounding county. Our neighbours on Byron Street were an American expat zookeeper, on one side, and an English toy manufacturer on the other.
Architects Talking to Architects: Jesse Hager, AIA
Jesse Hager, AIA, is a partner at CONTENT in Houston. With more than 13 years of experience in the fields of architecture and construction, he has been involved in the design of a wide range of projects, including affordable housing, hospitals, luxury residences, office buildings, and even a LEED Platinum-certified university campus in Saudi Arabia.
Jesse Hager, AIA, with wife, Heather, picnicking in Versailles - photo by Daniel Mills
Where did you grow up?
In the woods of Washington state, in a small town called Bellingham, which is about halfway between Seattle and Vancouver. My parents have some acreage on which my mother runs a plant nursery and landscape business. My time was spent primarily playing in the creek, building forts in the woods, and inventing histories about the different areas of the property. I could ride my bike to the lake nearby, or keep going down to the bay, and Mt. Baker is just a short drive for snow.
Architects Talking to Architects: Tiffany Robinson Long, AIA
Tiffany Robinson Long, AIA, is an architect at Marmon Mok in San Antonio, where she focuses on healthcare projects, including patient wings, rehabilitation centers and operating rooms.
Tiffany Robinson Long, AIA, and her baby girl. -photo courtesy Tiffany Robinson Long, AIA
If you were not an architect, what other profession would you have pursued?
I will admit this is something I frequently thought about after graduating from college. I have always been interested in internal medicine and how the body works, and with the education, internship, and exams required for architecture, it doesn't seem like it would have taken much more time to become a doctor. If I had gone that way, I would probably be sitting here on the computer typing about how I wish I would have been an architect!
Beyond the Boardroom: TxA Board Meets in Marfa
The subject of this post belies my column’s name as it is in fact all about the boardroom....The Texas Architects board of directors meets once in each quarter of the year. Our first quarter meeting is always in Austin and the last is always at our Annual Convention and Design Expo. The sites for the second and third quarter meetings are selected by the current Society president, with these parameters: the second meeting should be at a Texas site other than one of the five convention cities, and the third at an out-of-state site of high architectural interest.
This year’s second quarter board meeting took place in Marfa, Texas, on April 19-21.
Downtown Marfa with its historic courthouse. -photo by Alan Roberts, AIA
Located in the high desert between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend, Marfa provided, as intended, a superb opportunity to be removed from familiar surroundings, investigate a different community’s fabric, and focus on the work of the Society.
Architects Talking to Architects: Steven Schloss, AIA
Steven Schloss, AIA, is an architect at The Arkitex Studio, a small, award-winning general practice firm in Bryan. He has worked on a wide range of projects, including homes, churches, schools, offices and labs, and has been involved in everything from master planning to construction administration. Schloss serves on the College Station Design Review Board and as the 2013 chapter president for AIA Brazos.
Steven Schloss, AIA - courtsey The Arkitex Studio, Inc.
Where did you grow up?
I was a hotel brat (like an Army brat, but my dad managed hotels). I was born in Santiago, Chile, and lived in Freeport (Bahamas), Acapulco, Los Angeles, Silverthorne (Colorado), and Mexico City before returning to Silverthorne for high school.
Architects Talking to Architects: Scott Specht, AIA
Scott Specht, AIA, is a partner at Specht Harpman Architects in Austin, TX. His firm also maintains an office in New York City. Specht Harpman's award-winning work includes commercial, institutional, and residential projects, as well as custom furniture.
Scott Specht, AIA, and his son - courtesy Scott Specht, AIA
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a completely anonymous suburb of Tampa, Florida in the '70s. It was a kind of aesthetic blank slate, and I was exposed to very few notions about what architecture or design involved. I remember seeing the new exposed-concrete Tampa International Airport terminal when I was a kid and asking my dad when they were going to paint it.
Advocacy Update: Eight Weeks To Go!
Advocacy updates are provided by Texas Architects Senior Advocate David Lancaster, Hon. AIA
Capitol Complex - courtesy State Preservation Board
As usual, activity at the Texas Capitol speeds up greatly in late March and April. So far, the Society’s focus has been in three general areas:
- Sunset bills, especially HB 1717 relating to the Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE), and HB 2107, relating to the Facilities Commission (TFC);
- Bills aimed at improving the Public Private Partnership (P3) law and ensuring a Master Plan with appropriate design standards for the Capitol Complex, with particular attention on SB 507
- A plethora of licensing bills that would regulate new groups – from roofing contractors (HB 123) to energy auditors (SB 617).
Beyond the Boardroom: AIA Repositioning/Grassroots
"Beyond the Boardroom" is a new blog column by Texas Society of Architects EVP James T. Perry.
As a relative newcomer (2+ years) to the Texas Society of Architects and AIA, last week I attended Grassroots for the third time, participating with great interest and learning a good deal more about the Institute’s processes, staff and board. The AIA “repositioning” effort seems to me to be a very good development for all.