Marking the Land
Modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi famously said, “Architecture is inhabited sculpture.” That raises the question: Is sculpture uninhabitable architecture?
Modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi famously said, “Architecture is inhabited sculpture.” That raises the question: Is sculpture uninhabitable architecture?
At the west entrance to the campus of the University of Texas at Austin stands the Spanish Mediterranean inspired Texas Union. Built in 1932 to serve as the center of social activities of the growing university, by the end of the twentieth century the location of the Union had become much less central due to the campus’ eastward expansion.
Twin Oaks Library, designed by h+uo architects, replaces a former branch library located in leased storefronts in south Austin.
Four Texas firms are among a nationwide total of nine that were chosen Jan. 30 as semifinalists for the Waller Creek Conservancy design competition, from a pool of 31 entries. The competition calls for a redesign of a 1.5-mile stretch of city parkland and urban space along Waller Creek in downtown Austin.
Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) is actively searching for any film or video collections referencing Texas or made by Texans. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) recently provided several such films to TAMI, including episodes of the 1950s television program “Texas in Review” that includes a segment on the historic French Legation in Austin.
The Texas Society of Architects 2012 Annual Convention and Design Expo, October 18-20, in Austin, presents two distinguished keynote speakers who will examine the role of design in the context of the convention’s theme, “Influence.” One is an activist and innovator who helped create the High Line — a public park built atop an abandoned, elevated rail line in New York; the other is the award-winning host and radio producer of 99% Invisible. Attend the convention to hear the unique perspectives of Robert Hammond and Roman Mars.
In Austin’s richly diverse and energetic East Side neighborhoods, a rebirth is taking place. The addition of the Heywood Hotel on East Cesar Chavez Street represents the latest addition to a burgeoning and thriving East Side culture. Nestled comfortably among the barbecue joints, tacquerias and local shops that have so far eluded big-box homogenization, the hotel builds respectfully on the neighborhood’s considerable charms.
It’s a Monday morning at Archillume Lighting Design in Austin. Founder Charles Thompson, FAIA, is just now back from a four-day road trip on his 2009 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic. His time on the open road to Big Bend and back has helped to recharge his energy and clear his mind. So he’s ready for whatever awaits him.
Dick Clark Architecture designed Propaganda Hair Group’s leased, 1,700-sf shell space within the Gables 5th Street Commons building in downtown Austin. The client requested a loft-like space with an open plan, minimal furnishings, and wood and concrete textures. The design focuses on ways to differentiate program areas within a single space, while offering an open atmosphere.
Two Texas design firms are among four design teams that have been chosen as finalists in an international competition to revitalize Austin’s downtown Waller Creek. More than 30 teams entered the competition late last year, and nine semifinalists were chosen in January.
In this edition about design for healthcare and wellness, we look at good buildings of both types. But the role of architects in public health goes far beyond their work on the hospitals, clinics, and fitness facilities routinely associated with these two categories. The broader purview includes their role in shaping more livable, sustainable, and healthy communities — the premise being that there is a direct correlation between the design of a community and the health of its people.
John Saunders Chase died in Houston on March 29, 2012, at the age of 87. Chase was the first African American to enroll in and graduate from the architecture program at the University of Texas at Austin (March 1952), the first African American to be registered as an architect in Texas (1954), the first architect of his race in Texas to become a member of the American Institute of Architects (1954), and also the first architect of his race in Texas to be elected to Fellowship in the AIA (1990).
Online registration opens mid July for the Texas Society of Architects Convention and Design Expo, October 18-20, in Austin. This year, the convention’s theme is “Influence.”
AIA Austin’s 2012 Design Awards competition resulted in recognition for 15 projects in three categories out of a total of 112 entries.
A small health center for the agrarian village of El Cantón in Honduras is being constructed as the implementation of the winning entry in the “Building Health Challenge” design competition staged in January by Global Architecture Brigades among its university chapters nationwide.
Like the other two books highlighted here, everyday, by Leonard Volk, will be part of the featured activities (including book-signings by authors) in the AIA-Austin-hosted Reading Room at the Texas Society of Architects Convention and Design Expo in Austin October 18-20.
The City of Austin Historic Preservation Office has been working in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin (UT) School of Architecture Historic Preservation program to develop a participatory, wiki-inspired web application to support the comprehensive survey of Austin’s historic resources. The community launch took place June 4. The Heritage Society of Austin has partnered on this project by assisting in securing funding and providing volunteer support in adding content to the Wiki.
Back in the year 2000, McAllen physician Cayetano Barrera was visiting the Texas Capitol grounds when he noticed that none of their 18 monuments recognized the story of Texas’ early Spanish and Mexican explorers and settlers — an account that dates back to 1519 when Spaniards first arrived on the coast.“ In fact, the history of Texas was being told as if it all started with Anglos at the battle of the Alamo,” says Jaime Beaman, AIA, of Casa Bella Architects in Austin.
There is good architecture. And then there is good architecture … as in architecture for the public good. This year’s statewide design award winners — 13 projects from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin — are a case in point. I was struck, during the awards jury process, by how intent the jurors were on recognizing certain entries, not only for their merit in terms of design (even design merit as broadly defined), but also for their capacity to fulfill client aspirations for the public good.
The Texas Society of Architects Continuing Education Committee has spent the past year reviewing and selecting educational programs for the Society’s 73rd Convention in Austin, Oct. 18-20.
Our 2012 Design Awards jury met at the Texas Architects headquarters in Austin on June 7 and 8 to review the 227 entries submitted in this year’s program. As Chair of the 2012-2013 Design Committee, I enjoyed the privilege of being present during the deliberations of three distinguished and insightful jurors: Angie Brooks, AIA, of Brooks + Scarpa in LA; Eddie Jones, AIA, of Jones Studio in Phoenix; and James Timberlake, FAIA, of Kieran Timberlake in Philadelphia.
McGarrah Jessee’s relocation to larger quarters in downtown Austin neatly coincided with the home-grown creative agency’s bursting out of its regional sphere of influence. Affectionately known as McJ, the company has steadily ratcheted up its staffing level as its roster of clients has expanded and its recognition has gone national. Now, after having outgrown its former offices in a converted warehouse, McJ has re-established its base of operations in the Starr Building, a modernist landmark completed in 1954 and designed by local firm Kuehne, Brooks and Barr for the offices of American National Bank. The project achieved widespread acclaim at the time for its distinctively crisp interiors by Florence Knoll and a monumental mural created in situ by Seymour Fogel.
Downtown Austin’s east-west streets are sliced in half by the northsouth artery of IH-35. To the west, downtown rises, its sparkling towers radiating progress. To the east, the city of days past lingers, its
neighborhoods of humble homes and local businesses resolute. The freeway, elevated at the heart of the city, creates a physical and spiritual divide that has plagued Austin for decades.
As urban infill lots go, the roughly 12,000-sf triangular site that is now home to the Kimber Modern Bed & Breakfast presented Baldridge Architects with more than its fair share of challenges. For one, the rather
small plot rose 25 feet in elevation from the curb to the back lot line, a precipitous pitch. Furthermore, neighboring establishments created conditions that most would find undesirable for a boutique design hotel.
In the past there has been a sense of aloofness characterizing the Art Building on the UT Austin campus. Located on the northeast corner of San Jacinto and 23rd Street, across from Royal–Memorial Stadium, the two-story building has stood at a distance from the public. Although its main entry on the west side was connected to street level by a prominent exterior stair, the building’s solid volumes revealed little about its interior activities. Yet the south elevation of this mid-century modern building expressed a slight undulation in the soft orange brick veneer, rising to a cap of contrasting white concrete barrel vaults. These details created a bit of visual interest and a hint of greater possibilities within.
Preservation Texas recently announced its 2012 Honor Awards, which includes 10 awards and a special commendation recognizing the best of preservation in Texas. Individuals and projects in Austin, Dallas, Galveston, Houston, Marshall, San Antonio, and West Texas received awards.
The Texas Society of Architects and AIA Austin are offering three specialized study classes on the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) during the Texas Architects 73rd Annual Convention and Design Expo, Oct. 18-20, in Austin. The classes are “Tips and Tricks for using the NCARB Practice Software”; “Archibowl - Come on Down!”; and “NCARB and You: IDP, ARE, and Certification.”
Texas Architect has welcomed Catherine Gavin to Austin as editor of the magazine, effective with the January/February issue.
During its 73rd Annual Convention in Austin, Texas Society of Architects recognized the following as this year’s Honor Awards recipients for significant contributions to the architectural profession and the quality of the built environment.
The Texas Society of Architects recently named Austin hotelier Liz Lambert as the recipient of its 2012 Cornerstone Award.
As the culmination of an international competition to revitalize Austin’s downtown Waller Creek, a team led by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and Thomas Phifer and Partners has been selected to design a 1.5-mile-long linear park. The announcement was made October 18.
The Austin firm Pollen Architecture and Design has created a home that ties itself tightly to a dramatic landscape of densely-packed small hills and steep valleys.
Is it possible for architecture to transform, not just the physical character of a place, but also the behavior and patterns of life of people who live there? Can we think of redevelopment, not just in terms of changing buildings and spaces, but also in terms of altering interactions, attitudes, and lifestyles? Architects would tend to answer “yes” to both questions. And, fortunately, there is evidence to back them up.
On Jan. 25, the Texas Society of Architects/AIA will sponsor its first Advocates for Architecture Day at the State Capitol, an event that is expected to attract 200 architects for individual constituent-legislator conferences. With the event taking place during the first weeks of the biannual Texas Legislature, the agenda calls for the architects to meet with elected officials to advocate for their support of measures intended to enhance the built environment and maintain the integrity of the architectural profession.
Being the architect on the house for his daughter, Liz Tirrell, and her family, was “like a surgeon operating on his own daughter,” says Frank Welch, FAIA. While he admits to being “very nervous” about the project, she recalls the experience as “fun” and one that offered fresh insights into her father’s extraordinary design skills.
This past fall, the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture celebrated its centennial with various symposia, lectures, and gatherings held under the banner of “UTSOA 100: Traces & Trajectories.”
Lawrence Speck, FAIA, professor and former dean at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and a principal of Page Southerland Page, has been awarded the American Institute of Architects’ 2011 Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architecture Education.
Each year the Texas Historical Commission recognizes individuals, organizations, and programs that have achieved success in efforts to preserve the state’s architectural heritage. Included in the 2011 THC program are awards for The Shape of Texas radio program and the Austin architecture firm Clayton & Little Architects.
The lower Colorado River’s expansive watershed touches on the lives of more than one million residents of 56 counties in central Texas. Managing supplies of drinking water from the river and harnessing its powerful flow for hydroelectricity are part of the Lower Colorado River Authority’s multi-faceted mission. However, the public utility’s most visible role involves the controlled release of water through six dams along the river’s 600-mile run to the Gulf of Mexico.
McGarrah Jessee’s relocation to larger quarters in downtown Austin neatly coincides with the home-grown creative agency’s bursting out of its regional sphere of influence. Affectionately known as McJ, the company has steadily ratcheted up its staffing level as its roster of clients has expanded and its recognition for innovative and hugely successful advertising and branding campaigns has gone national. In December, after having outgrown its former offices in a converted warehouse, McJ re-established its base of operations in a former bank building, a midcentury treasure that had fallen on hard times.
Over a decade i n development, the City of Austin’s capital improvements program called Great Streets is changing the character of its downtown by broadening sidewalks and adding amenities to enhance the pedestrian realm.
“Light, space and order—these are the things that humans need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep.” Le Corbusier’s observation of these three essential elements comes to mind when visiting the Sisters Retreat pool house and pavilion by Mell Lawrence Architects. Though the project possesses the typical attributes one might associate with a small recreational program, the unique quality of the design is manifest both in the overall layout as well as in its materiality and detailing, all of which embrace light in nuanced ways.
Designed by San Antonio firm Wiese Hefty Design Build, the Austin headquarters of Sweet Leaf Tea highlights the company’s brand while also displaying its eclectic office culture. The architects used building information modeling (BIM) software to design the almost 8,000-sf space, which is an adaptive reuse of a 1918 building in the Penn Field office complex.
When the 82nd Legislature convened in January, expectations were low for the state’s architectural profession. The biggest issue facing lawmakers was a historic budget shortfall, which meant that new taxes might be levied on professional services, including those performed by architects.
Hal Box, FAIA, had a greater impact on architectural education in Texas than any single individual in the state’s history. He was a visionary and a consummate doer. He imagined a much more prominent position for Texas architecture in a national and international context, and he worked tirelessly and skillfully to use architectural education as a means to reach that ambitious goal.
The American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment has included Lake/Flato Architect’s Livestrong Foundation’s headquarters among its 2011 Top Ten Green Projects, a national program that celebrates sustainable design excellence. Livestrong, located in Austin, was this year’s sole Texas honoree.
AIA Austin honored 10 projects in its 2011 Design Awards Celebration. From a total of 77 submittals, the distinguished jury of architects selected three for Honor Awards, six for Citations of Honor, and one unbuilt project for a Studio Award.
The design initiative by Miró Rivera Architects proposes a series of activity zones for a segment along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail in Austin where the trail extends underneath heavily trafficked Mopac Expressway (Loop 1).
Structures from every era of a city’s history are of immeasurable importance to the texture of a community and its sense of place. Intangible sentiments can link people to buildings through experience, memory, or imagination. Yet, many factors can lead to the decline and even the demolition of a historical structure.
While it is not unusual for a renovation project to transform an individual building, it is noteworthy when such a project begins to change how people relate to the city around them.