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.