Saturday, July 31, 2010

Experiencing Architecture: Arthouse Follow-up

Last week, Texas Architect staff had an opportunity to tour the Arthouse at the Jones Center renovation/expansion designed by NY-based architecture firm Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis. and to speak with architect Paul Lewis (Art History: The "New" Arthouse at the Jones Center). This week, we had an opportunity to “experience” the design during a membership rush party. Although the project is still under construction, it’s obvious the new program will provide plenty of space for members to gather when Arthouse opens in October.

Friday, July 30, 2010

TBAE Mines for Enforcement Cases Through Certificate of Merit

by Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

To get better plugged into possible enforcement cases, TBAE staff has proposed using the certificate of merit law as their tool for investigations. In other words, if you have a lawsuit filed against you, TBAE wants to know about it so they can investigate. As you may be aware, Texas law requires a certificate of merit (i.e., sworn affidavit by a third party architect) in lawsuits against architects. This is an extra hoop trial lawyers need to jump through in order to sue an architect…which is a good thing and the purpose for which was to filter out frivolous lawsuits. TBAE is considering using this certificate requirement as an “opportunity” to mine for possible administrative actions against architects by requiring that those certificates get filed with their agency for possible investigation. Our concern? For one, we all know that design defect cases are filed for any number of reasons and while there are plenty of good forensic architects signing the certificates, there are those out there who fail to do their homework. Being filed against doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Also, we have concerns about the mere filing without resolution of the case being in the hands of TBAE staff. A lawsuit is simply an allegation of wrongdoing not a legal conclusion. It seems more appropriate that the agency should want this kind of information after the case has been resolved. Lastly, if the agency plans to continue to pursue this avenue of investigation, it seems reasonable that the agency should focus its inquiry to allegations of gross incompetence, recklessness and areas of dishonest practice, and not simple negligence. TBAE meets on August 20th. TSA will be present monitoring any further discussions on this topic. Stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Looking to find your Purpose? Find it in San Antonio this October

Center for Architecture, San Antonio
Image by Giles and Pearlstone Photography

James C. Heck, AIA
Fisher Heck Architects
TSA Convention Chair

If your Purpose is to get all of your CEUs, see what’s new in San Antonio, renew old acquaintances or find new ones, then come to the TSA Convention, Oct. 14 - 16, in our beautiful city. With over 50 continuing education sessions and two terrific keynote speakers at our General Sessions, this year’s convention is bound to satisfy all.

Join members of AIA San Antonio, and get into party mode at the Expo Welcome Party with a burst of energy and “attitude.” Relax and enjoy captivating musicians and artists performing on two different stages.

Sign up for any of the many tours we have available. If your interest is in higher education, museums, religious spaces, the first fully accessible family fun park, the new Museum Reach, or San Antonio’s transformational homeless shelter, among others, you won’t be disappointed. Of course, you’ll have to save some time to come by our Chapter’s new Center for Architecture at the historic Pearl Brewery complex.

We also have an outstanding program for Emerging Professionals, looking at social media as more than a place for finding friends from high school.

Don’t forget the Acme Breakfast, the President’s Gala, the Awards Luncheon or the Texas Architects Foundation Bike Ride.

Visit the TSA website to register today!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Art History: The ‘New’ Arthouse at the Jones Center (opening October 2010)

by Noelle Heinze
Texas Architect

“Color-coding history” is how architect Paul Lewis of New York-based architects Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis describes the red, green, and yellow trusses of the second-floor gallery’s exposed ceiling in the soon-to-be-completed renovation and expansion of Arthouse at the Jones Center (Austin). Walking through the gallery, Lewis indicates the that the red steel is from the original 1920s Queen Theater, the yellow from a 1950s Lerner Shops department store, and the green from the 2010 renovation, which sought to reinforce the structure. Layers of history define the project, which is a collaboration between the architects and Arthouse’s Building Committee and Staff. In fact, the architects were selected based on an interview, not a proposal, and the design grew organically.

Solar tube lighting, a crow’s-nest view of the Texas Capitol, and 150 green-glass apertures add unique touches to the design. But the new features don’t define the project, the original building does, and the architects and Arthouse let it shine through. Especially on the second floor, which features typical white-walled gallery space—but only on three walls. The fourth is left exposed like the ceilings throughout, showing layers that lead back to the 1920s theater; ornamental plasterwork remains and reminds visitors of the building’s many lives. A 13-ft-high moveable wall dissects the gallery, allowing Arthouse to customize the space to accommodate the art within.

Entering the 20,830-sf building from downtown’s busy Congress Avenue, a monumental stairway framed on the right by an ipe curtain—made up of vertical panels in picket-fence formation—leads directly to the second-floor gallery and widens as one makes the ascent. To the front of the gallery is a 90-seat community/screening room, with a wide panel of glass that wraps around the building’s southeast corner and allows pedestrians to view activity inside. At the rear of the gallery, a stairway leads to a reading-room loft and two artist studios. An exit takes visitors to a 5,500-sf rooftop deck with a large movie screen at one end and a crow’s nest retreat at the other. It’s easy to imagine the parties that will take place here long after an opening’s closing.
The building’s first floor houses staff offices and two galleries, and the lobby desk is a continuation of the ipe stairwell. The entry lounge is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass.

The “new” Arthouse at the Jones Center is an exciting space that melds the present with the past. The building opens in October with an inaugural exhibit by Jason Middlebrook, More Art About Buildings and Food. For more information visit www.

We talked to Paul Lewis of New York-based architects Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis about what it was like designing Arthouse in Austin, Texas.

Color-coded trusses above the 13 ft. moveable gallery wall.

The new glass blocks were positioned to align with the frescos that were left behind from the old Queen Theater.

Paul Lewis points out the layers of new and old brick that comprise Arthouse's archeological architecture.

The large second-floor window will be used for video displays viewable from both the street and within the building.

When: Wednesday, July 28 from 7-9pm
Location: Arthouse
700 Congress Avenue (@ the corner of 7th St.)
Hosted by: Bradley Coburn, Katy Daiger, Nathan B. Green, Christine Moline & Dave Shaw

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Funding YAF Efforts: Emerging Professionals Component Grant

The AIA College of Fellows has established a small grants fund, Emerging Professionals Component Grant, to assist AIA components in the development of programs that foster the mission of Young Architects and Associates.

These funds may be used to enhance the activities of an existing Emerging Professionals group or as seed money to help start a new one. Because one of the goals of the component grants program is to make Emerging Professionals groups a vital component activity, an explanation or demonstration of component commitment and support is essential.

The deadline for submission is: Monday, August 16, 2010.
For more information, download the grant criteria and application here.

Some suggestions on your application:
- Avoid requests for food, drink, and travel expenses.
- Show matching funds in your budget. Matching funds may be procured from your Chapter or outside sources.
- Demonstrate how your grant will benefit the largest possible number of young architects/emerging professionals.
- If your program is not selected, apply next year.

Friday, July 23, 2010

USGBC Opens Building Performance Partnership to Current LEED-Certified Buildings

Green Building Pro

Buildings Can Voluntarily Submit Performance Data to Inform Future Version of LEED

Washington, DC – (July 22, 2010) – Last summer, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced its Building Performance Partnership (BPP), a program to engage owners and managers of commercial and residential LEED-certified green buildings, optimizing the performance of buildings through data collection, analysis and action. Starting this summer, USGBC has opened the program to all current whole-building LEED-certified commercial and residential projects. BPP will further the efforts to understand how buildings perform from the moment of LEED certification and years beyond.

This partnership among USGBC and the thousands of LEED project owners will result in the population of a comprehensive green building performance database and enable standardization of reporting metrics and analytics to establish new building performance benchmarks.

Continue reading article here.

Online Registration for TSA Convention Just around the Corner...

Online registration for the TSA Convention in San Antonio, Oct. 14-16, is just around the corner. Members will receive notice via e-mail toward the end of next week that online reg is now open.  Stay tuned to the TSA blog for more details in the coming months regarding Continuing Education Sessions, events, tours, and awards/recognitions. This year's convention theme is Purpose and keynote speakers are Will Wynn, former mayor of Austin, and Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

by Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

The Texas Board of Architectural Examiners is planning to propose a rule change requiring that renderings be labeled with your name, date of issuance, and statement of intent (“Not for regulatory approval, permitting or construction”). It’s an issue that the Board finds compelling due to cases seen where clients have decided during the schematic design phase or design development phase that they don’t want to pay for architectural services anymore and are ready to build with what they’ve got. This, of course, poses a risk not only to the architect, but to the public at large if the building design is not ready to be constructed.

The problem is: how can the agency regulate this scenario to protect the public in this digital age particularly since the proposed definition of a “rendering” is “a drawing, illustration or other artwork created for the purpose of demonstrating the anticipated appearance of a proposed design after construction which allows a client to make design-related decisions throughout the course of the project?” This is pretty broad. Moreover, does this kind of regulation cross over into meddling?

Architects illustrate for a living. We (and I mean you all) help clients visualize the future with illustrations of what the space will feel like, look like and how it will function, which is part of the proposed definition of “rendering.” I assume that pretty much every client meeting involves illustrating the project in some form or another. That’s why one hires an architect. These illustrations are on paper (sometimes paper napkins, paper bags, the back of an envelope) and they’re electronic (2-D and 3-D). These illustrations, especially in this technological age, are evolving, being manipulated and changed with the client real time. So with this proposed rule, how does one draw the line (so to speak)? Isn’t every illustration in some way a “rendering” used to help your client make design decisions? So, how does one decide when to include the disclaimer language? The bottom line, I think, is that it’s too fuzzy and probably shouldn’t be regulated by TBAE. Now, from a legal standpoint, if I were your attorney, I would certainly recommend that you use this disclaimer language any time possible because it protects you, as well as the public. But I don’t think it’s an easily enforceable rule. Not only that, I understand from our last Government Affairs Steering Committee meeting that because the line is so fuzzy, architects would err on the side of caution by including the language on virtually everything, which puts architects in the awkward position of appearing overly defensive to the client. Makes sense to me.

We’ll be advocating our concerns at the next TBAE meeting on August 20th. If you’re interested in this issue and want to provide input, please contact me at

The Blind Spot in Vanity Fair's World Architecture Survey: Green Design

image courtesy of Chicago Tribune

by Blair Kamin
Chicago Tribune

At first, I decided not to say anything about Vanity Fair's self-aggrandizing "World Architecture Survey," which asked top architects, critics and architecture school deans to rank the most significant buildings, bridges and monuments built since 1980.

After all, it seemed like a pretty harmless, attention-getting device--a star-obsessed magazine obsessing about "starchitects" and their spectacles of steel and glass and stone. A pictorial of sexy buildings instead of sexy babes. A story about architecture's overheated recent past rather than its chillingly sober present.

But then I heard the author of the story that accompanied the survey, Matt Trynauer, talking on NPR's Weekend Edition last Sunday.

He was asked why no explicitly green buildings made the list, which was topped (no surprise) by Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Trynauer replied that there are a lot of very interesting green buildings out there, at least at a small-scale. Then he continued: "These buildings in general don't look so hot because they have to do a lot of things that buildings traditionally never did."

Like, say, saving energy? Adapting to local climates? Or using local materials that don't cost tens of thousands of dollars to transport?

Click here to continue reading the article.

Architecture Firms Re-Imagine Our Future Cities

Newsweek posed the following question to three well-known architecture firms: What will our cities look like in 2030? Click on the following link to see their ideas:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Four Projects Selected for TSA Studio Awards

Color Clock House by Max Levy, FAIA
edgeHouse by C. Graham Beach, J. Brantley Hightower, and Jennifer Young

by Bengie Daniels, AIA, Derek Keck, Jon Gately, and Michael Day

Warren Ranch Visitor's Center by students of Architecture Design VI Studio at Prairie View A&M School of Architecture (including student Gary Fondel, faculty advisor Heidi Dellafera Eagleton, and teaching assistant Adam Boutte)

A jury of three Arizona architects has selected four unbuilt projects to receive 2010 TSA Studio Awards. The announcement followed the jury's meeting on July 16 in Phoenix.

The following projects were awarded:
• Color Clock House by Max Levy, FAIA, of Max Levy Architect
• edgeHouse by C. Graham Beach, J. Brantley Hightower, and Jennifer Young
• Pegboard designed by Bengie Daniels, AIA, and Derek Keck, both of Latitude Architects; and Jon Gately and Michael Day, both of Object 31
• Warren Ranch Visitor's Center by students of Architecture Design VI Studio at Prairie View A&M School of Architecture (including student Gary Fondel, faculty advisor Heidi Dellafera Eagleton, and teaching assistant Adam Boutte)

Color Clock House is a plan for a 2,400-sf speculative house in Dallas. According to the architect, the project is a "small house [that] connects with something big: sky and sunlight."

edgeHouse is a concept for a house located on a standard residential lot on the northwest side of Marfa that creates spatial conditions to accommodate both solitary retreats and social gatherings.

Pegboard envisions a house in Ghana assembled with a kit of light-weight concrete components poured on site. Other elements are handcrafted by local artisans with bamboo and wood.

Warren Ranch Visitor's Center is designed for the Katy Prairie Conservancy for a site in Hockley on the largest cattle ranch in Harris County. The 20,000-sf compound includes the adaptive re-use of a 90-year-old barn.

This year's Studio Awards jury was composed of Wendell Burnette, AIA, principal of Wendell Burnette Architects in Phoenix; John Kane, FAIA, a founding principal of Architekton in Tempe: and Philip Weddle, AIA, of Weddle Gilmore Black Rock Studio in Scottsdale.

TSA Studio Awards recognize innovation and excellence in the design of unbuilt work. The competition was established in 2004 to encourage real or theoretical projects that go beyond the boundaries of architecture by addressing current critical issues. This year’s winning entries will be profiled in an upcoming edition of Texas Architect.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Architectural Record/Design Vanguard 2010

Architectural Record is looking for a great group of 10 emerging firms from around the world to feature in its annual Design Vanguard issue. Although there is no age limit, the focus is to try to select architects who have had their own practices for less than 10 years.

To enter the competition, send a low-resolution PDF (no larger than 8 MB) with a portfolio containing 5-8 projects (both built and unbuilt), CVs of your firm’s partners and a short statement of your firm’s design approach or philosophy.

Deadline: August 16, 2010

Send to Clifford Pearson at:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Extreme Design

Have you received your July/August 2010 issue of Texas Architect yet? Check your mailbox for the hands-on experience, or click on the interactive digital version above.

This issue of Extreme Design features projects ranging from The Austonian in Austin (the tallest residential tower west of the Mississippi) to the acclaimed Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Also included are articles about Texas Tech University architectural students’ concepts to control flooding in Houston, an alternative strategy for a border fence along the Rio Grande, and the implosion of Texas Stadium in Irving.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Introducing Tommy Cowan, FAIA, TSA Interim EVP

Tommy Cowan, FAIA
TSA Interim Executive Vice President

Announcement from the Executive Committee of the TSA Board:

Effective July 2, long-time Executive Vice President David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, will focus his talents and efforts on his real passion–advocacy issues and legislative affairs. Lancaster’s considerable expertise and guidance in this area will continue to bolster TSA’s commitment to be the voice for Texas architecture, supporting safe, beautiful and sustainable environments.

Assuming the day-to-day management duties of the office on an interim basis is Tommy Cowan, FAIA of Austin. A Search Committee has been appointed to launch efforts on a national scale to engage TSA’s next EVP. The Leadership and Staff remain committed to continuing the organization’s vitality and success, and to building upon the solid foundations provided by Lancaster and his three predecessors.