Thursday, April 30, 2009

2009 "TOGS 2" Winners Announced

The winners of the 2009 Temporary Outdoor Gallery Space 2 (TOGS 2) International Ideas Competition, sponsored by Art Alliance Austin, AIA Austin, the Austin Foundation for Architecture, and AIA New York, were recently announced. First place was awarded to Juan Alfonso Galan of El Paso, TX. Second place was awarded to Shinya Nakae of Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan, and third place was presented to Rob Corser of Seattle, WA.

In addition to the First place winner, three individuals from Texas are among the top 15 entries: Peter Storey of Austin and Amna Ansari and Ada Ho of Houston. They join other finalists from France, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Canada, New York, California, Indiana, and Washington. Read more here. (Pictured above is "Clip on Gallery" by Juan Alfonso Galan. Image courtesy of Art Alliance Austin.)

AIA Feels Impact of Economic Downturn

Late last week the AIA notified its members and state and local components that as a result of the economic downturn, it must make some additional reductions in operating expenses to stay within its 2009 budget. The reductions range from staff travel and face-to-face meetings to cancellation of specific advertising campaigns. The AIA made the following statement, “There will be no staff layoffs. However, there will be an Institute-wide mandatory two-week furlough of all national staff: the first week of June and the first week of August. The national component will be closed these two weeks. As required by federal employment laws, the staff will be prohibited from doing any Institute-related work, including answering phone calls and email messages during the furlough period.

"While our goal is to minimize the impact on our members, customers, and you, we also know that closing the Institute will have implications. We will structure implementation of the furloughs to ensure the least disruption of member services. We will keep you apprised as we work through the details.”

Monday, April 27, 2009

Texas Architecture Week (May 4-8)

Display boards featuring TSA’s 2008 Design Award winners will be installed next week (May 4-8) in the South Central Gallery of the State Capitol in celebration of Texas Architecture Week. Rep. Jessica Farrar is sponsoring the exhibit. Check out some other architecture-related events going on around Texas: “Birth of the Cool” at The Blanton in Austin (thru MAY 17); “New Classicism: The Rebirth of Traditional Architecture” at the San Antonio Center for Architecture (thru MAY 31); and “Architectural Euthanasia” at Architecture Center Houston (thru MAY 8), to name a few. (Image: Shahram Malek/ZIBA Studio).

Opinions on Proposed AIA Bylaws Amendments & Resolutions

by TSA Executive Vice President David Lancaster, Hon. AIA

On the whole, I have to wonder how much serious debate or discussion the AIA Board had before it approved the proposed amendments and delegate resolutions to be voted on at the 2009 AIA Annual Business Meeting in San Francisco, CA, on May 2.

IMHO, four of the five proposed Bylaws amendments seem flawed—two because of how they’re worded (09-A, 09-D), two just seem to be bad policy (09-B, 09-C). With the exception of 09-02, the resolutions seem to be either superfluously redundant (09-01) or unwise (09-03). Resolution 09-02 could be an interesting referendum on what the driving factors for future AIA conventions should be, and, as such, could prove instructive to national leadership and staff…assuming it’s passed in San Francisco and subsequently ratified by the Board of Directors.

While the bases for my questions or concerns regarding this blog are real, I hope that at least the humor can be appreciated. With that in mind, here’s one person’s irreverent take on some of the major 2009 AIA Annual Business Meeting items:


09-A: Participation by Board Members at Board Meetings

“Dialing up Attention Deficit Disorderliness.” If National wants the authority to meet legally via conference calls, which is the reason I’m told that this amendment is being offered, why not just say so? The wording that’s been published would allow, if not ensure, less productive meetings—if not bad meeting habits. I’m predicting less productive (national) AIA Board meetings in the future because people either 1) won’t bother to attend in person or 2) they’ll call in…then put the phone on mute and try to do other things (like taking care of their paying business), which means reduced focus on their AIA director role. One of the reasons I’ve heard given for considering a new national governance model is that the current way of selecting directors (and, ergo, the current Board members) hasn’t resulted in choosing those who are tuned in sufficiently to be strategic and efficient. If anyone thinks national directors aren’t already tuned in, wait until they let them multi-task during meetings. The bright side of this proposal is that at least we’ll eliminate that old problem of AIA Board “class cliques.”

09-B: Public Membership

Let’s call this one “Boston (or BSA) Legal.” Most everyone is familiar with the old saw, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” This looks like a situation in which, since the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) won’t stop offering Public Membership to the “great unwashed” of the northeast (in violation of Section 4.054 of the national Bylaws), the national component has decided to follow BSA’s lead by changing its Bylaws to let National start milking that potential cash cow, too. So what if it may well negatively impact a whole boatload of related local/state components’ architectural foundations, not to mention all those new architectural centers?!? At least everyone’s will be legal now. One other slightly troublesome item for me in the published wording: nowhere else in any other membership category section is determination of “Rights and Privileges” left to the AIA Board to write/edit/approve. This whole thing seems WAY loose…and rife with opportunity to lead us places we may not really want to go.

09-C: AIA International Membership

If Texas secedes like our Governor has hinted we should consider, will Lone Star architects qualify for AIA International? Apparently, the AIA, whose official “domain” is the United States and its territories, is concerned that it isn’t able to keep pace with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) when it comes to signing up “foreign” architects as members. The reason behind this idea, allegedly, is that the RIBA doesn’t qualify its letters, while the Institute’s title for anyone not licensed by a regulatory body somewhere within the AIA’s domain must include the word “Associate.” Not to be outdone by the RIBA, this proposal, which is touted as merely (or at least primarily) a title change from “International Assoc. AIA” to “AIA International,” one heck of a more impressive moniker. The way it’s worded, however, would make members of the new category eligible for everything except Fellowship, being an Institute officer and voting on U.S. architects’ dues (unless serving as a director on the national board). Apparently glossed over, however, are the far greater potential unintended consequences that 1) such a move might prompt a backlash by state regulatory boards wanting to avoid consumer confusion by prohibiting use of the terms “AIA” and “AIA International” by anyone not licensed within its specific jurisdiction or 2) creating a perception that someone who is “AIA International” is somehow more qualified for global practice than someone who is “just a plain AIA.” Maybe that’s why “Confused in Fort Worth” is hoping Rick Perry carries through on his “Tax Tea Party Tirade,” he’d wind up with a much sexier title!

09-D: Associate Members as Regional Directors on the Institute’s Board of Directors

“So which of the previous provision or positions still apply?” Last year, delegates in Boston approved Resolution 08-C, which recommended allowing regions to elect an Associate AIA member as Regional Director to the (national) Board, if that was the region’s choice. I’m not questioning that 2008 Vox Populi Architecti, but I must ask if allowing this eligibility will affect whether or not the two designated “Associate AIA Representative” positions set out in Section 6.02 of the Bylaws will continue, or is this the first step in a plan to do away with all constituent reps. (One could ask the same question about the International Director position on the board, too, given 09-C.) Since nothing indicates a change in any of the limitations put on the number or percentages of Associates who may serve on section, chapter, state or regional boards [see 2.333(a) and (c)], is the national board to be different or will this become an issue to answer later? Should this motion be reconsidered to cover these and other questions?

09-E: Members Emeritus

As some Texans say, “even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while.” Just to prove that I’m not simply some crusty old “nattering nabob” (thank you Spiro Agnew), I’m good with this one. One person, however, suggested that the new language in 2.311(ii) [“has achieved architect emeritus status under law in any state of the United States”] could be interpreted to mean that the state with the youngest or lowest age that qualifies for emeritus status sets the bar for all the rest. Would “has achieved architect emeritus status under law in the state in which he or she is registered” work better? The same sort of tweaking could be applied to AIA International members (including Texans, if we secede) should 09-C be approved.


(Before I get into the real stuff, did anyone else notice that last year the Resolutions had capital letters rather than numbers…and this year they’ve been viced versa? Cool, huh?!?)

09-1: Component Adoption of the Gateway Commitment

“Can I get a component ‘AMEN’…or 300?” It feels good, it feels right…and who in his or her right (political) mind would vote against it, but what does it really do?!? It says “the AIA Board of Directors must urge each state and local component to embrace and adopt the…Commitment; and…develop a concrete plan” for implementing it, but why does the AIA Board have to wait for a delegate resolution to do that—or “to make readily available all resources…in the accomplishment of (the) diversity goals?” Would it be OK for the state and local components just to adopt the national “concrete plan” once we do our embracing and adopting…both of which I am all in favor of doing!

09-2: Ensuring a Viable National Convention

“This still doesn’t guarantee we’re coming to Detroit, Fred.” Given last September’s decision by the AIA Board to cede future national convention site decisions to the AIA Executive Committee, this one makes good sense. If such a review and confirmation doesn’t take place, we may well wind up with such decisions being made based only (or almost completely) on the size of the available exhibit hall space. If that’s the case, we could wind up limited to 5-6 cities (Boston, New York City, DC, Vegas, LA and Frisco). How does that fit with 09-1 and promoting diversity?

09-3: Defining a Minimum Standard to Meet Our Obligations Regarding Environmentally Responsible Design

“This resolution died on a point of order last year; it should die on its merits now.” From my narrow (OK, call it selfish) AIA lobbyist’s point of view, neither National nor its individual local and state components should “recommend and support” a single green building rating system…and that’s what I interpret the published wording as doing. (Striking the word “most” on the 4th line of the first RESOLVED paragraph might solve this issue. MAYBE!) Even if the USGBC and LEED program do exist as a result of the leadership provided by some earlier members of the AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE), government shouldn’t be in the business of using only one standard when “shaping public policy, action, and metrics” for green buildings—and we shouldn’t be promoting a single standard. No state legislature is going to “green light” a monopoly, even one for green building standards, so let’s avoid advocating any standard more than another—unless it’s OUR standard, one we developed, which, then, of course, would be OK.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Green Energy Education Act Passes the House

The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that will allow the Department of Energy to reroute money to the National Science Foundation (NSF) that can be used for undergraduate or graduate engineering and architecture education programs that focus on the design and construction of energy efficient high-performance buildings. The Green Energy Education Act directs the NSF’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program to distribute grants to universities to develop curricula, laboratory activities, training practicums, and design projects focusing on green buildings and advanced energy technologies. Click here to read more. (Source: AIArchitect/April 24).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Production Wraps on May/June Issue of Texas Architect

Production recently wrapped on the May/June issue of Texas Architecthighlighting art venues from around the state and the creative works they house. In the photo above, TA Art Director Julie Pizzo works with intern Jessica Pendleton, a senior at UT Austin, during the design and production phases of the magazine. Access to archived issues is available online.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day: The Green Generation

Today is Earth Day, and the theme this year is The Green Generation. In an example of how Texas architects are contributing to this movement, the AIA and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have announced the 2009 COTE Top Ten Green Projects, which include Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center (Orange, Tex.) by San Antonio firm Lake|Flato Architects. Winning projects showcase excellence in sustainable design principles and reduced energy consumption. Click here for a complete list of 2009 winners. Pictured above is Shangri La (photo credit: Hester + Hardaway).

AIA Austin Announces Honor and Design Awards

This week, AIA Austin announced the recipients of its 2009 Honor and Design Awards. The awards were presented at a gala held on Sat., April 18, at the Historic Browning Hangar at Mueller. Click here for a list of the honorees. Shown above are images of Legge Lewis Legge's UP/Ultimate Pulse, which won a design award (images courtesy of Legge Lewis Legge).

Spring Board Meeting

The TSA Board met in Dallas this past weekend for its spring meeting, with guest speaker Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, the Honorable Susan Combs. A transcript of her talk, along with a brief Q & A, will be made available on the TSA Web site soon. Friday's meeting took place at the Dallas Center for Architecture, with a reception immediately following. Members of the AIA Dallas Emerging Leaders Program attended Friday's Board activities. On Saturday, guest speaker Vel Hawes Jr., FAIA, TSA 2008 Lifetime Achievement Medal recipient, gave a presentation on the Dallas Arts District Development. The weekend meeting concluded with a tour of the Nasher Sculpture Center led by Hawes. (Photo: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs and TSA Executive Vice President David Lancaster, Hon. AIA)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hariri to Lead Studio Awards Jury; Deadline for Entries is June 12

Gisue Hariri of Hariri & Hariri Architecture in New York City, has been selected to lead the 2009 TSA Studio Awards jury. This year’s Studio Awards will be judged separately from the Design Awards, and the deadline for entries has been set later in the year to encourage more students to participate in the competition.

The deadline for Studio Award submittals is June 12. Entry forms and instructions are posted on the TSA Web site under “Awards” in the “About TSA” section. Download the PDF named “Design Award & Studio Award Guide.” The competition is open to students and faculty from any accredited architectural program in Texas, along with architects registered in the state, TSA associate/intern members. Submittals are limited to actual projects on the boards or in the drawers but not under construction. The TSA Studio Awards were begun in 2004 to recognize innovation and excellence in design by encouraging real or theoretical projects that go beyond the boundaries of architecture by addressing current critical issues. Click here to read more.

AIA Urges Support for Green Energy Education Act

Executive Vice-President & CEO Christine McEntee of AIA National sent out the following request today urging support for The Green Energy Education Act of 2009 (HR 957).

 “The House of Representatives will soon vote on legislation that would provide funding for undergraduate and graduate architecture and engineering programs relating to the design and construction of high-performance buildings. The bill, The Green Energy Education Act of 2009 (HR 957), could be on the House floor as early as today. Therefore, I ask that you send a message to your member of Congress urging them to support this vital legislation.”

Click here for more information about the bill. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

San Francisco Ten Days Away

The AIA National Convention in San Francisco, April 30-May 2, is only 10 days away. TSA is hosting a Lonestar Breakfast and Trailbreak Reception for TSA members on May 1. While no RSVP is required, early arrival is advised. 

•Fri., May 1
Lone Star Breakfast, 7:00-8:00 a.m.
Pacific Suite J
San Francisco Marriott, 55 Fourth Street

•Fri., May 1
Texas Trailbreak Reception, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Pacific Suite J
San Francisco Marriott, 55 Fourth Street

For the first time, the AIA is live streaming (Pacific time) direct from the convention 11 sessions as well as all three theme-session presentations. AIA/CES learning units will be available as well. Visit for registration details. 

Architecture-Related Events this Week

"Art Week Austin, April 22 – April 26, is a series of citywide visual art happenings produced both by Art Alliance Austin and partner organizations. In 2009, Art Week Austin expands from daily Art Talk Austin events to include daily happenings across the city promoting emerging talent from a variety of disciplines including art, architecture, design, performance and more." 

“The 14th Annual 20th Century Modern Market at the Lawndale Art Center, Houston, is a great opportunity to see some of the best examples of 20th-century design. On Wed., Apr. 22 at 7 p.m., listen to Robert Summers lecture on Discovering the Origins of Modernism in Texas Art. Then, on Fri., Apr. 25 from 6-9 p.m., head to the Preview Party.” 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Deadline Approaches for Design Awards

TSA Design Awards entries are stacking up as the 5:00 p.m. deadline fast approaches! The jury meets May 15 to begin deliberations. Next up is the June 12 deadline for Studio Awards. This year, the Design Awards Committee decided to stagger the two deadlines, allowing students more time to submit entries and creating an opportunity for two different juries. Recently, AIA Houston announced the winners of its Design Awards. Click here to read about the projects.

Update: The TSA Design Awards closed with 261 entries compared with 267 entries in 2008.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize Announced

The 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate is 66-year-old Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, best known for the Thermal Baths (1996) in Vals, Switzerland, which uses load-bearing concrete and local stone walls to create an ethereal complex of bathing pools. Zumthor has designed buildings around the world, although most of his work has been in Europe, close to his Swiss studio. He has maintained a small office (today totaling 15 staff) since 1979. Click here to read more. (Source: ARCHITECT magazine, April 13, 2009).


Friday, April 10, 2009

National Architecture Week

National Architecture Week, April 13-19, begins on Monday and was created to encourage public conversations about architecture. The AIA is using the social networking site Facebook to make available a broad range of knowledge resources from the national component and is asking state and local components, individual members, and the public to contribute to the site. During National Architecture Week, the AIA is suggesting the following topics: Community Revitalization, School Construction, Affordable Housing, Sustainability, Inclusiveness, Historic Preservation, and The Future of the Profession.

TSA launched a Facebook group in September '08. Click here to visit the site. Not a Facebook member? Click here to join today.