Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Mess with Texas...Lobbyists?

Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

As a lobbyist for the architectural profession, my job is to advocate for architects. Every day I come to work with the sole mission of ensuring that architects are effectively represented at all level of state government – Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Every day I review rules, laws, proposed laws, proposed rules to analyze the impact on the profession and to act on them.

But come November 15th (in a couple of weeks), my mission the entire day will be centered around training to acquire a license to carry a concealed handgun. You may ask: “What does THAT have to do with the architectural profession?” Well, the State Capitol now has metal detectors. To get in and out, your purse is searched and you have to wait in line to get through the metal detector. If you’ve been to the Capitol during the legislative Session, you’re familiar with the crowds of school children and interest groups “storming” the Capitol. So you can imagine how long the lines are going to be just to get into the building. Couple that with the fact that lobbyists frequently need quick access to hearing rooms and to the Lobby in front of the House and Senate chambers. There are times when one literally has a few minutes notice on a bill being called up or an amendment that is problematic and needs action right away.

In a swift response, the Texas Lobby have organized themselves to take a CHL (Concealed Handgun License) class so that all lobbyists can flash their CHL to bypass the lines. So…only in this great state of Texas would the entire Lobby be registered to carry a weapon. So come Monday, November 15th, watch out! I’ll be learnin’ to pack heat…all in the name of architects. Who would of thought? Wish me luck (and everyone else in that class) that no one loses a finger!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TSA Announces New EVP

James T. Perry

The Texas Society of Architects|AIA has named James T. Perry as Executive Vice President. Perry joins the organization on Jan. 17, 2011, and will be responsible for leading and managing the TSA staff and fulfilling its mandate to support the Society’s mission to be the voice for Texas architecture, supporting the creation of safe, beautiful, sustainable environments.

Perry is currently the CEO for the Florida Music Educators’ Association, the Florida School Music Association, and serves as the board consultant to the Florida Art Education Association. Under his leadership these associations have coalesced into an alliance known as “The Center for Fine Arts Education,” which works for the advancement of Fine Arts education in Florida. He also serves on the board of directors for the Florida Cultural Alliance and has served as chair of the Task Force on Government Relations for MENC: The National Association for Music Education.

A native of Austin, Perry is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and attended the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for graduate study. His classroom teaching experience included sixteen years of music education (band) in grades 6-12. He has performed with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, the Texas Brass Quintet, and the Austin Symphony Orchestra as bass trombonist. For the last eleven years, he has resided in Tallahassee, Florida. He retains a life membership in the Texas Exes, is an alumnus of the University of Texas Longhorn Band, and enjoys being with family in Central Texas whenever possible.

“The entire TSA family is excited about James Perry’s return to the Lone Star State and looks forward to his assuming the role of EVP in January. I am personally pleased to see another trombone playing, McCallum High School Knight, U.T. Longhorn Band member brighten our staff,” says TSA Interim EVP Tommy Cowan, FAIA.

Cowan has been serving as the Society’s Interim EVP since July 2, 2010. He recently retired from Graeber Simmons & Cowan, where he was a founding principal and managing partner of the 50-person architecture firm, which specializes in education, healthcare, financial, and advanced technology. Previously, David Lancaster, Hon. AIA, served as EVP for 22 years and is now dedicating a full-time focus of his talents and efforts on TSA advocacy issues and legislative affairs in the role of TSA Senior Director of Advocacy.

Bill Reeves chaired the TSA Search Committee, with members Mary Crites; Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA; Jim Doche, FAIA; and Bryce Weigand, FAIA. Ex-officio members were TSA President Heather McKinney, FAIA, and President-Elect Dan Hart. 

The Coxe Group, a Seattle-based management consulting firm, was hired to manage the search. 

TBAE Rules Defeated!...For Now

Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

I consider myself a relatively smart person—a pretty good thinker for the most part—open-minded, and I have a deep appreciation for all of the members of the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) who dutifully serve on the Board, sacrificing time away from family and their “paying” job…but a couple of recently proposed rules give me pause about well-intentioned ideas turning into over-the-top regulation.

TBAE met October 25-26th to discuss and act on, among other things, proposed and to-be-proposed rules regulating architects, landscape architects and interior designers. The first rule proposed that “renderings” be required to include the statement “Not for regulatory approval, permitting, or construction” if the rendering would be used by a client to make a design-related decision. The proposed rule defined a rendering (and I’m partly paraphrasing) as an “illustration” or “other artwork” created to help clients make design decisions, but not intended to be constructed. Huh?!? If this seems circular and illogical, that’s because it is. TSA and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) opposed adoption of this rule because it was poorly crafted and, from a regulatory standpoint, seemed excessive. Isn’t virtually everything an architect does for his/her client a “rendering” under that definition? Isn’t that the reason clients hire architects, to help them visualize the project? Aren’t those the skills that architects have that are marketable? While the intent of the rule was laudable…to stop folks who use renderings as construction documents from time to time, the proposed solution was impractical. We were successful in advocating the demise of something I’ll call a “good idea gone bad.”

The other one was a bad idea turned really bad. It started out as a requirement that certificates of merit be filed with the agency. Then it morphed into a self reporting rule to require architects, landscape architects and interior designers to self-report any settlements, judgments, arbitration awards of $50,000 or more within 30 days of receiving notice of such settlement, judgment or arbitration award. Why? TBAE staff said it would help catch bad architects. I can’t argue with the idea that bad architects should be sanctioned, and that it’s TBAE’s job to do that, but the faulty premise of this proposal is that civil actions against design professionals somehow equate with the unethical practice of architecture. This is where anyone who has been sued over nonsense says, “not only ‘no’ but…” well, you know. As Bill Wilson, FAIA, said (and I heartily agree), “lawsuits are about money and unmet expectations,” put in the form of contract disputes, consequential damages and/or construction defects. Rarely do these lawsuits have anything to do with public safety, which is the reason TSA can’t support a rule that would give TBAE staff a steady stream of “busy work” that would cost the state significant time and effort that could otherwise be used protecting health safety and welfare. Some at this recent meeting implied that we were opposing the rule out of self-preservation. Maybe there’s a little of that. Personally, I don’t want to see architects having to report nonsense cases or deal with an administrative action, retain counsel, experience additional stress and everything else that could go along with the process when the underlying allegations have nothing to do with HSW. The other part of me, the one coming from a defense litigation background, knows that construction law and the lawsuits that are filed are extremely complex, with multiple parties thrown into the mix and lots of gray areas in the law. Courts labor over these issues day in and day out so I can’t fathom why and how TBAE could possibly be equipped to second-guess this process administratively.

I presume that TBAE staff, who I truly respect for their knowledge of agency statutes, rules and administrative law, and a genuine desire to do their jobs well, would do ”due diligence” on every case that was self-reported. Due diligence to determine whether the agency should become involved would involve reviewing boxes of court documents, pleadings, responses to interrogatories, deposition transcripts, etc, etc. Who’s going to pay for the cost of copying these documents? Since I have experience reviewing these or similar documents when I write amicus briefs, let me assure you that it takes a tremendous amount of time to do that carefully, or “right.” So, where will these documents be stored? What kind of enforcement will be sacrificed if staff spends the necessary time pouring over volumes of litigation documents they’ll receive? It just doesn’t make sense from a resource standpoint, particularly in light of the well-known fact that lawsuits often mean nothing.

Oh, there’s also that pesky constitutional issue of requiring anyone to report on him or herself without counsel and without notice of charges. The rule, as proposed, did not specify what is required to be self-reported. Case number? Allegations? Complaint? Answer? While I have a tremendous respect for architects (I tried it but eventually gave up and went to law school instead), architects are not attorneys and will not necessarily know what to say (or not say) during the self-reporting process, particularly if the rule doesn’t specify. Bottom line, the proposal doesn’t make sense, so TSA, along with ASLA again, opposed it and won—at least this time. The questions now are: will this rule come back, and in what form? I will bet you anything that the answer is “yes,” I just can’t say when or in what form…so stay tuned because we will need your help when it does. Of note, after our testimony, a majority of the Board agreed that the current proposed rule didn’t work but a majority also thought that the rule merited further consideration.

Advocacy works; what you’ve just read demonstrates that. And TSA had two great advocates at the TBAE hearing – Bill Wilson (FAIA) and Paul Bielamowicz. TSA now issues a plea to all architects to practice your advocacy skills during the next legislative session by joining us in the first ever Lobby Day for the Texas Society of Architects in 2011. Click here to find out more and to register.

If you’ve already registered, you deserve a big thank you for standing up as one of, what we hope will be, the hundreds of architects at the Texas Capitol on January 25, 2011. Planning is well underway and early RSVPs are greatly appreciated.

Join TSA for Lobby Day - January 25, 2011

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest Blog: AIA FORUM by Paul Welch, Hon. AIA

Paul W. Welch Jr., Hon. AIA, executive vice president of the AIA California Council (AIACC), is interim executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects. An experienced California public servant and senior executive with the AIACC for nearly three decades, Welch began the interim appointment in July 2010. Below is a recent post from Paul's blog FORUM.

Pesky Emerging Professionals are Future Leaders

Thanks to all of you who took time to comment on last week’s blog. All your comments on mentoring—and I did read them all—were thoughtful, inspiring, and welcome news that although technology has enabled some professionals to restrict their search for knowledge to the Web or on an episode of “Seinfeld,” the pulse continues, mentoring still lives. So let’s continue the conversation.

Clearly, mentoring touches all of us. Your perspectives reflect its complexity. Perhaps what many young professionals—and gray hairs, too—see as a decline in mentoring is unintended collateral damage of the Intern Development Program (IDP). However, IDP is but one example why mandating mentoring will not work. As many of you wrote, mentoring is more personal, oftentimes happening simply as a consequence of a friendship and trust.

Yes, emerging professionals can be pesky and difficult to understand because they have different values and perspectives on design and on the role of the profession in service to society. Let’s admit it; maybe technology has in fact enabled them to be more inquisitive, more innovative, and more visionary. Maybe, just maybe, mentoring works both ways.

This I know for sure: emerging professionals will soon be running firms and the AIA. They’ll be the ones making decisions and making architecture happen. Perhaps it’s time to listen to them.

As AIA leaders, it’s our duty to mentor and nourish future leaders within the profession and this organization. Tomorrow’s leaders are like the quarterback who’s looking for an opportunity to break into the open. Tomorrow’s leaders are among us today. They will flourish when encouraged, gain confidence when given opportunities, and become wise with experience.

Opportunities for leadership development are in great abundance at all levels of the AIA. Encouragement—an easy undertaking—may be the single gesture that inspires one to volunteer and begin the leadership track. Or, perhaps it’s the awarding of a scholarship to Grassroots or Convention that’s long remembered because someone cared.

Are we, today’s AIA leaders, providing opportunities for the young to work on committees, participate in governance, engage the State House and Congress, or experience the challenges of planning special events for their component? Are we open to their unique points of view?

I’m from a state that incubates, cultivates, and nurtures leadership at all levels. Remaining relevant in an environment of constant change will soon be the duty of a new generation of architects. In the words of R.D. Lang, “We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.”

The youth of today were born into a world of change, and they were educated to be agents of change. I have great confidence in our nation’s youth and their passion for making a difference. Are we doing all we can to listen to and empower tomorrow’s leaders to renew this profession and the AIA? What else could and should we be doing today?

To read Paul Welch's blog, visit the AIA website at

Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 Anderson Prize Winner

For the second year in a row, the Kenneth Lanier Anderson Prize, administered by the Texas Architectural Foundation (TAF), has been awarded to a team of students from the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Architecture. The UTSA team of 19 students, instructed by Professor Sue Ann Pemberton, FAIA, received the prize for ranking among the finalists in the Charles E. Peterson Prize competition, which is presented jointly by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and the American Institute of Architects. The team’s measured drawings of the Heermann Store in Somerset, Texas, won third place in the Peterson Prize competition.

The Kenneth Lanier Anderson Prize was established to honor the memory of Kenneth L. Anderson, AIA, former principal architect and later chief of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), a program of the Heritage Documentation Service of the National Park Service. The prize is intended to encourage students in Texas’ accredited schools of architecture to record buildings to HABS standards and submit the drawings to the National Park Service for inclusion in the HABS Collection in the Library of Congress.

The UTSA team received its award in a ceremony in early October. Team participants were Ricardo Alarcon, George Barrera, Mario Cantu, Andy Castillo, Christopher Castillo, Jennifer Flores, Dorian Gutierrez, Eduardo Hernandez, Adekunle Lufadeju, Sonal Oswal, Brita Pearson, Deidre Remley, Judith Ruvuna, Justin Scanio, Ryan Schmidt, Shayna Thompson, Matthew Tompkins, George Torres, and Anna Wulfe.

For more information about the award or the Texas Architectural Foundation, click here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More TSA Convention Photos

TSA asked members and attendees at last week's convention in San Antonio to submit their convention photos for the TSA blog. Below are a few images submitted by AIA Fort Worth President Paul Dennehy. Submit your photos to

Texas Architect Contributor: Mort Levy, FAIA

Mort Levy, FAIA often feels as old as the Galveston churches described in his article on page 30, having “architected” in the Houston area for over half a century. He claims no “big” buildings, but he has been involved in many projects for religious organizations, as well as having some commissions that were profitable.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

2010 TSA Convention Wraps in San Antonio

Honor Awards Committee Chair Edward McCormick takes the stage during the First General Session to recognize John Casbarian, recipient of the TSA Award for Outstanding Educational Contributions in Honor of Edward J. Romieniec FAIA.

On-site program guides rest on the registration desk as attendees begin to arrive in San Antonio for the three-day event, October 14-16, 2010.

Lines form early Wednesday afternoon, as early birds check in to get their badges.
Convention Committee Chair Jim Heck, AIA San Antonio President Bob Wise, and John Grable look on as TSA President Heather McKinney rehearses for Friday's First General Session.

TSA President Heather McKinney on stage during rehearsals.
Attendees arrive at one of two General Sessions, which feature keynote speakers Cameron Sinclair, of Architecture for Humanity, and Will Wynn, former mayor of Austin.
Mckinney addresses a packed house on Friday.

John Dazey and Kathleen Reardon of RD Architecture in Houston pause for a photo as they peruse the Expo Hall during a break from their Continuing Education sessions.
Sally Smith, Carolyn Peterson, Betty Feldman, and Tiffany Robinson Long lead a panel discussion titled "Women in the Profession: How to Advance and Retool."

A welcome party, prize drawings, opportunities to learn about architectural products and services, and a Texas Architects Committee lounge draw a crowd to the Expo Hall on Thursday and Friday.
 Texas Architects Committee VIPs relax at the TAC lounge during convention.

T-shirts are handed out to promote TSA's January 25, 2011, event "Advocates for Architecture Day" at the State Capitol.
Beautiful weather entices attendees to take breaks outside along the Riverwalk.
A coffee bar on a bridge in the convention center provides a popular spot for friends and colleagues to catch-up and network.

Below the bridge, the river.

The Texas Architectural Foundation booth at Bridge Hall.
TSA Board members chat at a reception after their annual meeting.
A Continuing Education session fills up fast as attendees look for seats.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Texas Architect Contributor: Murray Legge, AIA

Murray Legge, AIA is a graduate of the Cooper Union, a principal with LZT Architects in Austin, and a founding member of the interdisciplinary group Legge Lewis Legge. Current projects include a mosque, a park pavilion for the City of Dallas, and an interactive landscape in Quebec. Read his article about Mod Cott on page 52.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Being a Fashionable Architecture Geek

Check out the women's t-shirt we're selling at the TAC Lounge in the Expo Hall during the TSA Convention, Oct. 14-16, 2010. For $33, you'll have a unique t-shirt that will be the envy of everyone!"

Membership Spotlight: John Kirtley, AIA

John Kirtley, AIA, Abilene

Who or what inspired you to become an architect?

I was inspired to become an architect after spending time in Italy, along with holiday travels throughout Western Europe. I was in the army and stationed in Verona, Italy, for 8-1/2 years. I truly enjoyed the weekends of sightseeing and viewing all the interesting architecture.

What single work of Texas architecture inspires you?

There is no single work of Texas architecture that inspires me. I enjoy numerous to many designs. I travel a lot in my work of inspecting nursing homes, and I am impressed with the early Texas court houses.

What project have you most enjoyed working on?

I've enjoyed working on all of my projects, but I can honestly say I most enjoy working on my own creative pursuits of painting, writing, and design.

What is your dream project?

It changes over time…but for now, I would like to design a residence for the elderly. There is a fairly new concept called the “Green House” model, which is intended to de-institutionalize long-term care by eliminating large nursing facilities and creating habilitative, social settings. I envision a Green House with a kitchen and large living room with an electric fireplace, and a dining area surrounded with 8-12 resident sleeping rooms; sort of an oval shape of resident rooms with the kitchen-dining-living areas in the center. I would also place a garden area outside with French doors and large windows to view the garden area with a reflecting pool.

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

Just begin and do it. Whatever time is spent in the learning process, it will have a positive and profound affect on you and life! Study the masters of architecture and also art masters. Be patient, sooner or later you will have the chance to display your very own art and style.

What is the best place you’ve ever visited and why?

I have been fortunate and have traveled quite a bit. Some of my favorite places are Hawaii, Italy, Russia, and Peru. 

What new skills do you want to learn?

New? I wish to improve my painting, writing, and design skills…and any beneficial and necessary skill!

What product or service can you not live without?

I can live without most modern conveniences, but it is very nice to have a cell phone and computer. 

Images below by John Kirtley, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Texas Architect Contributor: Gregory Ibañez, AIA

Gregory Ibañez, AIA resides in Fort Worth and is a frequent contributor to the magazine. While writing about the Grauwyler Park Branch Library in Dallas (page 40, Sept/Oct Texas Architect), he says, “This type of architecture is absolutely vital to the building of strong communities, yet as I write this article draconian budget cuts are planned for the Dallas Public Library system. Who speaks for the public realm?”

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 TSA Citation of Honor - Artisan

The following individuals and companies were recently awarded a 2010 TSA Citation of Honor - Artisan. The awards will be celebrated during the TSA Convention next week, Oct. 14-16, in San Antonio.

Brochsteins, Houston

Malou Flato, San Antonio

Gini Garcia, Gini Garcia Art Glass, San Antonio

Richard Potter, Potter Art Metal Studios, Dallas

Jeff Smith, Architectural Stained Glass, Fort Davis