Monday, July 20, 2009

Membership Spotlight: Michael Morton, AIA

Michael Morton, AIA, is principal of m ARCHITECTS, an award-winning Houston architecture firm that focuses on projects where people heal, learn, work, and gather.  A graduate of the University of Houston College of Architecture (1994), he recently served on the Boards for both AIA Houston and TSA. Currently, he is chair of the 2009 TSA Convention Committee.  

Michael is a past recipient of the AIA Houston Young Architect Award (2006) and the TSA Award for Young Professional Achievement in Honor of William W. Caudell FAIA (2007).

TSA recently caught up with him, and he graciously agreed to answer the questions below and share a few images of his firm's work. 

St. John’s School – Scotty Caven Field Press Box by m ARCHITECTS.

Houston Public Library - HPL Express by m ARCHITECTS.

Q & A with Michael Morton, AIA:

1. Who or what inspired you to become an architect?

My older brother took a design studio at UH, and I was fascinated by his drawings and models. I signed up a couple of years later and never looked back.

2. What single work of  Texas architecture inspires you?

The Menil Collection by Renzo Piano, who accomplished so many of the objectives architects strive for on a project (i.e., innovation, functionality, context, natural lighting, and detail) without ending up with a building that looks like the result of a checklist.

3. What project have you most enjoyed working on and why?

We have recently completed the first in a series of projects for the Houston Public Library called HPL Express. These facilities provide visitors access to email, Internet, and computer training, as well as books. It is very rewarding to work on a project that empowers people without a computer by giving them access to information that many of us take for granted.

4. What's your dream project?

Any project that is not low-bid and does not have a project manager. I’m serious.

5. What is the biggest challenge that architects face, and how do you think the profession can overcome it?

The biggest challenge we face is teaching future generations to be leaders, to take responsibility, and to work hard. Firms must develop a “no-slacker” policy and insist that interns get licensed and accept that being an architect means being a leader and taking responsibility for their work.

6. What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing an architecture career?

I would advise them to spend a day at a firm and see what people are actually doing.

7. What's the best place you've ever visited and why?

I love Italy’s architecture, landscape, food, and wine.

8. What new skill do you want to learn?

I want to learn a martial art.

9. What product or service can you not live without?

I cannot live without the calendar on my PDA. It tells me when to get up, what to wear, and where to go; just like my mother used to do.

Visit the TSA blog Mon., Aug. 3, for the next Membership Spotlight.  

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