Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rally to Save Texas History

Join Preservation Texas and preservationists from around the state to support funding for historic preservation programs. The event will feature Ray Benson from Asleep at the Wheel. 

The event will be hosted Thurs., March 31, from 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm, at Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin.

Following the rally, join Preservation Texas at the honor awards reception, the opening event of the Texas Historical Commission’s Annual Historic Preservation Conference. Sheraton Austin, 701 East 11th St., Austin

Preservation Texas is the advocate for preserving the historic resources of Texas.

Jeff Johnson Comic Series, May 1956

Texas Architect magazine debuted the "Jeff Johnson, Architect" comic in April 1956. The comic, which was based on an architect, was created by David C. Baer, II, commercial artist and son of TA's former editor, David C. Baer. Patrick J. Nicholoson, consultant to TSA, collaborated on the series. Architectural Forum ran the cartoon in its publication in the fall of 1956.

The comic will appear once a month on the TSA blog until the end of the series. Enjoy!

May 1956

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Publications Committee Visits Lower Rio Grande Valley

Brantley Hightower
TSA Publications Committee Chair

In addition to the fulfillment that comes from assisting the staff of Texas Architect in the creation of the magazine, one of the best parts about being on the Publications Committee is the annual retreat. 

Normally, the committee meets in Austin once every two months to provide direction on upcoming issues and review the one most recently published, but once a year we take the meeting on the road and take a broader look at the magazine and how better we can serve our readership. Meeting in a place other than Austin provides us with an opportunity to interact with the membership of local chapters and see local projects that we might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore. This year was no exception.

While I had been to “the valley” before, this trip gave me a much better understanding of the diversity of the lower Rio Grande. The committee met on Friday at the Quinta Mazatlan, a Spanish-revival style mansion dating from the 1930s. We stayed nearby in McAllen at the historic Casa de Palmas Hotel, and after our business meeting we had the opportunity to take in the remarkably lively nightlife of the 17th Street District.

The following day we headed out to Brownsville at the southernmost tip of Texas. Because of its geographic location, the airport in Brownsville was once an important international hub for Pan-American flights to and from South America. In 1936, a Pan Am pilot hired Richard Neutra to design a house for him. In the 70 years that followed the house fell into an increasing state of disrepair, and in 2004 it was listed as one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of the “Most Endangered Places." The house was ultimately purchased by the City of Brownsville and restored by the University of Texas Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. The house looks great now and is definitely worth a visit.


While in Brownsville, we also explored the city center as well as the university campus. Originally occupying old Fort brown structures, the school has grown into a modern learning institution that still retains the character of its historic past as it develops into the future.


From there we headed west and saw a number of houses by John York and Alan Taniguchi. While both of these midcentury architects would eventually leave the valley (Taniguchi would eventually become the dean of UT’s School of Architecture), they left a compelling built legacy in the valley. We toured a number of single family homes designed by the two both as individuals and in partnership and I think we were all impressed by the skill and efficiency of their designs. We were also impressed by the slenderness of some of their columns – structural engineers seem less likely to allow us to use 2” pipe columns these days.

Our day ended in Mission where we visited the World Birding Center and the La Lomita Chapel. The latter was an exceptionally impressive restoration project recently completed by Kell Muñoz. Located in an alluvial plain within view of the Rio Grande, the building has witnessed a vast amount of history despite its miniscule size.

All of us on the committee would like to thank local architect and hosting Publications Committee Member Mike Allex along with Carmen Pérez García, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley AIA. The tours they organized were a treat and I think I speak for everyone on the retreat when I say I look forward to returning to the valley again. A special thanks is also due to Stephen Fox, whose encyclopedic knowledge of the valley (and of most other places in Texas) truly made this a weekend to remember.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Architecturally Significant

Local homes built by nationally known architects showcased
March 27, 2011
by, Isaac Garcia
Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — Open spaces, cool colors, structural steel columns and huge expanses of glass were in high praise Saturday afternoon as a group of architects toured some of Harlingen’s most architecturally significant homes.

The tour highlighted homes built by John York and Alan Taniguchi from 1949 to 1953 in a style known as mid-20th century modernism.

The tour, made up of members from the Texas Society of Architects and guided by architectural historian Stephen Fox, started in Brownsville Saturday morning and arrived in Harlingen at noon.

The first stop here was the Wilson R. Palmer House, 1910 South Parkwood St. A York house built in 1950, the house was the subject of praise and marvel as homeowners Nydia Tapia-Gonzales and Lupe Gonzales opened their doors to the group of architects.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Advocacy Update: Week 10

Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

The Texas Legislative Session has almost hit the mid-point and only three (3) bills have passed out of the House. Keep in mind that almost 4,000 were filed in the House (not including House Resolutions). This tells me things are about to get really hectic.

This week the House Appropriations Committee reported out of Committee their proposed budget which the Senate immediately identified as "not acceptable," meaning too harsh and in need of more funding. The Senate plans to restore some funding for health services and find an additional $6 billion for public education.

What does this mean to the architectural profession? I'm starting to feel like a broken record but the answer is: we still don't know. A number of bills have been filed that have extremely broad captions relating to "fiscal matters." We're watching them very closely for amendments that could impact state design/construction and/or procurement, as well as any other "funny business" that impacts the architectural profession.

Good news of the week is that we've been successful in stopping two additional legislative proposals that would have authorized bidding of professional services as they relate to higher education. Other good news is that we've made progress on at least one bill that would have expanded the definition of engineering to include design of buildings. It appears that that bill, at least for the moment, is not in play...but there's time and we fully expect we're in this for the long-haul. Next week, we'll be working to support SB 361 which prohibits overly broad indemnification provisions in design and construction contracts. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jeff Johnson Comic Series, April 1956

Texas Architect magazine debuted the "Jeff Johnson, Architect" comic in April 1956. The comic, which was based on an architect, was created by David C. Baer, II, commercial artist and son of TA's former editor, David C. Baer. Patrick J. Nicholoson, consultant to TSA, collaborated on the series. Architectural Forum ran the cartoon in its publication in the fall of 1956.

The comic will appear once a month on the TSA blog until the end of the series. Enjoy!

April 1956

In Texas, a Fight Between Architects and Engineers Goes to the State Capitol

Fred A. Bernstein
Architect magazine
March 22, 2011

A decades-long battle in Texas over whether engineers can provide architectural services has moved from the courts to the state Legislature.

Under Texas law, engineers can perform design work on projects that fall below certain thresholds: 20,000 square feet for commercial structures, $100,000 for new public buildings. But that isn’t enough for the engineers, who have persuaded allies in the Legislature—including two with engineering backgrounds—to propose laws that would allow engineers to engage in what they call “comprehensive building design.”

The fight has been brewing ever since the Texas Legislature passed a “practice act,” restricting architecture work to architects, in 1990. But some engineers continued doing architecture, and in 2005 and 2006 the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners began enforcement actions. In 2008, the board issued cease-and-desist orders to three engineers it found to be practicing architecture.

Click here to continue reading the article

Monday, March 21, 2011

Advocacy Update: Week 9

David Lancaster, Hon. AIA
Senior Director of Advocacy

In the week after approximately 1,500 House bills were filed to be within the 60-day deadline, along with another 700 in the Senate, we did a lot of slogging through the glut that occurs trying to fit 10 pounds of stuff into a five-pound bag.

In addition, we covered the Capitol to lobby on high performance building standards legislation (HBs 51 and 775) and ways to reduce liability and defense cost exposure (SB 361), both of which were successful. HB 51 was favorably reported by a unanimous vote of the State Affairs committee and SB 361 passed the Senate 24-7.

We visited a number of offices 1) about the “package” of engineer-driven bills that could adversely affect the practice of architecture, 2) told the sponsor of a bill (HB 2658) that would repeal the Architectural Barriers law that we are opposed to such a draconian proposal, and 3) successfully lobbied a State Representative to stop further consideration of a bill (HB 3676) that would eliminate Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) as the method for selecting design professionals for public projects.

Other anti-QBS language showed up in companion bills related to higher education funding (SB 5 and HB 3517), and we visited both bill sponsors to let them know how strongly we oppose any attempt to exempt institutions of higher education from the QBS law. Look for a Legislative Alert, however, to contact representatives and senators in the event our initial visits don’t produce immediate positive results. (The norm is that compromises are proposed or considered first…but this is an issue for which there can be no compromise, there is no middle ground.)

The week of March 21 will see a number of bills set for hearing, including SB 1048 (up in the Economic Development committee on Wednesday), many of which could impact the availability of public projects being funded over the next biennium. That, and a recently created Senate task force charged with finding approximately $5 billion in non-tax revenues to supplement critical state programs like education and health-human services, could have tremendous impact on business opportunities for Texas architects. We’ll be paying particular attention to the new task force to see if “non-tax” includes “non-fee” revenues, or if taxes and fees are viewed differently.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DCA Traveling Fellowship Presentations

Traveling Fellowship Presentations

 March 23 at 6:00 p.m.

A highlight of the Dallas Center for Architecture Foundation's scholarships is the program of traveling fellowships which enable architecture students and graduates to pursue a research agenda in all corners of the world.

On March 23 at 6:00 p.m., several 2010 Traveling Fellows (Jeremy Babel- Kolb-Berglund Traveling Fellow and John Ritter-Swank Traveling Fellow) will make presentations on their projects at the Dallas Center for Architecture.  

Jeremy Babel will present on his travels to Finland and an examination of the architecture of Alvar Aalto and the way Aalto uses detail to connect the human body to architecture and architecture to landscape.

John Ritter will discuss his two weeks in Curitiba, Brazil where he investigated public spaces, the transit system, and the architecture of the city.

To RSVP, please send an e-mail to

The application deadline for the 2011 Traveling Fellowships is March 31.  For more information and application materials, visit and click on the Scholarship link.

Guest Blog: New Accessibility Standards, Part 3

New Accessibility Standards, Part 3: General Exceptions

by Jeromy G. Murphy, AIA, RAS

The following is a common question that I hear from architects: “Is (fill-in-the-blank) required to be accessible?”

A simple question with a simple default answer: “Yes.”

Unsurprisingly, architects are rarely satisfied with that answer and for good reason, because there are always exceptions. Let’s start at the beginning.

Section 201.1 of the 2010 ADA Standards states the scope and offers a useful advisory:

201.1 Scope. All areas of newly designed and newly constructed buildings and facilities and altered portions of existing buildings and facilities shall comply with these requirements.

Advisory 201.1 Scope. These requirements are to be applied to all areas of a facility unless exempted, or where scoping limits the number of multiple elements required to be accessible. For example, not all medical care patient rooms are required to be accessible; those that are not required to be accessible are not required to comply with these requirements. However, common use and public use spaces such as recovery rooms, examination rooms, and cafeterias are not exempt from these requirements and must be accessible.

The intent is for everything to be accessible unless the Standards specifically say it need not be accessible. For example, in new construction, is a toilet room located within a warehouse required to be accessible if accessible toilets are provided within the office area?

213.2 Toilet Rooms and Bathing Rooms. Where toilet rooms are provided, each toilet room shall comply with 603.
1. In alterations where it is technically infeasible to comply with 603, altering existing toilet or bathing rooms shall not be required where a single unisex toilet room or bathing room complying with 213.2.1 is provided and located in the same area and on the same floor as existing inaccessible toilet or bathing rooms.
2. Where exceptions for alterations to qualified historic buildings or facilities are permitted by 202.5, no fewer than one toilet room for each sex complying with 603 or one unisex toilet room complying with 213.2.1 shall be provided.
3. Where multiple single user portable toilet or bathing units are clustered at a single location, no more than 5 percent of the toilet units and bathing units at each cluster shall be required to comply with 603. Portable toilet units and bathing units complying with 603 shall be identified by the International Symbol of Accessibility complying with 703.7.2.1.
4. Where multiple single user toilet rooms are clustered at a single location, no more than 50 percent of the single user toilet rooms for each use at each cluster shall be required to comply with 603.

There are no exceptions for warehouse restrooms. If you are looking for the exception for the private office toilet room, you won’t find it in scoping. Instead the 2010 Standards provides a specific exception for each of the fixtures within a private toilet (see section 606.2 Exception 1).

The 2010 Standards include some general exceptions that are similar to the exemptions to the current Texas Accessibility Standards found in Admin Rules 68.30 (68.30).

203 General Exceptions

203.2 Construction Sites.

203.3 Raised Areas., life safety, or fire safety...

203.4 Limited Access Spaces. ...catwalks, crawl spaces, or very narrow passageways...

203.5 Machinery Spaces. ....mechanical, electrical or communications equipment rooms....

203.6 Single Occupant Structures. ....accessed only by passageways below grade or elevated above standard curb height....

203.7 Detention and Correctional Facilities. Exempts areas that do not serve accessible holding cells.

203.8 Residential Facilities.

203.9 Employee Work Areas. Spaces and elements within employee work areas shall only be required to comply with 206.2.8, 207.1, and 215.3 and shall be designed and constructed so that individuals with disabilities can approach, enter, and exit the employee work area. Employee work areas, or portions of employee work areas, other than raised courtroom stations, that are less than 300 square feet (28 m2) and elevated 7 inches (180 mm) or more above the finish floor or ground where the elevation is essential to the function of the space shall not be required to comply with these requirements or to be on an accessible route.

203.10 Raised Refereeing, Judging, and Scoring Areas.

203.11 Water Slides.

203.12 Animal Containment Areas.

203.13 Raised Boxing or Wrestling Rings.

203.14 Raised Diving Boards and Diving Platforms.

When in doubt, design for access.

To hear the latest from TDLR, subscribe to the TDLR List Server

And check back here to learn more about the upcoming changes.

Jeromy G. Murphy, AIA, RAS

Friday, March 11, 2011

Architecture for Humanity at SXSW 2011

2010 TSA President Heather McKinney, FAIA, with Architecture for Humanity co-founder Cameron Sinclair during the TSA Convention in San Antonio, October 2010. Architecture for Humanity is a volunteer nonprofit organization set up to promote architecture and design to seek solutions to global social and humanitarian crisis.
Cameron Sinclair speaks to a standing-room only crowd in San Antonio.

Last October during TSA's convention in San Antonio, Cameron Sinclair of the nonprofit design services firm Architecture for Humanity, spoke about his organization's efforts throughout the world to build a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. With today's somber news of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan, Architecture for Humanity's mission has been underscored. Below is a message posted by Sinclair on his organization's Web site.

"A massive 8.9 quake has struck off the coast of Japan. The effects could be felt as far away as Beijing and a tsunami with 33ft waves has devastated the Japanese coastline. 4M people are without power and over 1000 people are feared dead.

The chapter members from Osaka and Kyoto are keeping us updated on this current disaster. Please follow us on twitter at @archforhumanity or Osaka chapter organizer Kana Kondo at @koncham

Our thoughts are with those in the region right now and we will announce on Monday what action we will be taking."

Architecture for Humanity is participating in Austin's annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences & Festivals beginning today through March 20, 2011. 

Architecture for Humanity on Frontline/The World 2008

Advocacy Update: Week 8

Yvonne Castillo
TSA General Counsel

This week was about engineers filing numerous bills to expand their business opportunities to include architecture. It’s not enough that engineers are authorized to prepare mechanical, electrical, structural, and civil plans and specifications for buildings…they want it all, and are pushing very hard to change the law to give them the authority to prepare architectural plans for public buildings. It’s shameful really, but we have a plan that we’ve already implemented and we’ll be calling on all of you to help us implement it further at the grassroots level when appropriate. The architectural community should take note that the favorable Travis County District opinion has ramped up the engineers’ efforts in this regard.

We also spent a great deal of time negotiating with roofing contractors and others on the alternative project delivery bill that was simply intended to consolidate alternative project delivery methods. Everyone has come out of the woodwork this Session on this bill (despite its successful passage for two legislative sessions) and it’s looking like the bill is going to be boiled down to a very basic version.

Lastly, we supported a couple of bills: HB 611 that prohibits state agencies from using their own staff to provide “commercially available” architectural or engineering services on projects they do not own and HB 51 that promotes high performance standards for schools and state agencies.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Greenest Homes Are Those Near Public Transit

by Wendy Koch
USA Today

Homes near transit use less energy overall than those in conventional suburbs, according to a new study released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Location, location, location -- it's a well-worn mantra in real estate. New research shows yet another reason why it's important: it decides how green a home really is. Housing near public transportation uses less energy than homes in the suburbs, even Energy Star-rated ones.

That's the finding of a study released this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which supported the data analysis. The EPA says location is vital because buildings and transportation together account for about 70% of U.S. energy use and 62% of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to read the article.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Future for Architects? Who Will Design Our Buildings in 2025?


Authors: Dickon Robinson, Chair Building Futures; Claire Jamieson, Building Futures; John Worthington, DEGW; Caroline Cole, Colander.

In this study, Building Futures sets out to explore the future role of architects, asking: who will design our buildings in 2025; what roles will those trained in architecture be doing then; and how will architectural practice have changed as a result? Through a series of one-to-one interviews and round table sessions the study aims to examine the breadth of those who shape the built environment: including traditional architects and those working in expanded fields of practice, as well as clients, consultants and contractors. The resulting speculations should be an opportunity for discussion and interrogation- an exploration of the imminent changes likely to affect the industry over the next 15 years.

Advocacy Update: Week 7

David Lancaster, Hon. AIA
TSA Senior Director of Advocacy

The current major issues of legislative focus are all “red meat” topics like abortion, voter ID, and immigration reform. They are extremely partisan, and there are two theories of how dealing with such topics now will ultimately affect the session:

1. They will either satisfy the needs of legislators for voting on hot-button issues (thought to be especially important to recently elected, Tea Party-backed members), thus freeing them to be more reasonable on more critical issues—especially the budget—that are to follow; OR

2. They will create complete, not-to-be-healed acrimony and split the House so badly that nothing will get done the rest of the session, and lead to multiple Special Sessions.

One particular interesting thing that caught my attention this past week, however, is Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville), a leading conservative Republican, recently said that the state will need to spend most of the Rainy Day Fund this session to deal responsibly with the budget shortfall and the Legislature will need to raise taxes, not just to generate more revenue, but to provide more equity on service taxes, which I’ll paraphrase as “cutting grass vs. cutting hair.” His example, which stayed away from taxing professional services (I should mention, coincidentally, that he is a physician), was to say the company that he has contracted to maintain his lawn collects sales tax for that service while the woman who cuts his hair doesn’t.

So what does this have to do with you or your practice? Not that much, although when someone with the conservative Republican props like Senator Deuell says we need to look at taxes, especially taxes on services, we all need to pay extra attention. Here are some of the bills or specific activities of impact/interest to architects and architecture that staff and lobbyists were busy with this week—

HB 51—High Performance Standards for K-12 facilities….had a State Affairs committee hearing on Wednesday. We were there in support and continue to assist actively as requested.

HB 628—Alternative Project Delivery and Public Contracting Procurement…was heard Thursday by the Government Reform committee. Again, we were there in active support because it’s one of our priority initiatives, along with High Performance Building bills.

HB 362 and 450—Regulation of Solar Panels by Home-Owner Associations…had their first Business & Industry committee review. Everyone seems to love the concept of solar energy and energy conservation, but legislators are sensitive to anything “ugly” that would reduce residential or community property values. SB 238 enjoyed a similar reaction with the Intergovernmental Relations committee across the rotunda on Wednesday.

HB 611—Provision of certain professional services…would limit public entities from providing design and construction services except on projects they own or have a shared interest ion. We offered the bill’s author an amendment for some “Except project management” language that might be misinterpreted or, worse, misused by a public entity looking for non-tax revenue.

Some interesting bills that were filed this week include—

HB1618—a Sunset Review bill…but one that appears to be a possible vessel for legislative “mischief”—if someone wanted to try something sneaky. At the least, one can’t help but read this as anything but a shot at one agency in particular, the Board of Architectural Examiners.

HB1876—Fire sprinklers in 1-2 family residences, the ubiquitous question of balance between safety-financial-maintenance liability concerns.

SB 1048—Public-Private Partnerships…viewed as a potential (and based on the current budget situation, an increasingly popular) source for funding capital projects. This large, complex bill was reported yesterday and will take time to digest, and the Government Affairs Steering Committee knows it must carefully consider a multitude of facets if we are to avoid potential unintended consequences.

And, finally, negotiations on the A/E issue are progressing, with our next meeting likely to be Monday. The situation is extremely fluid…so stayed tuned on a daily basis.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

UT Austin Hosts Symposium: LATITUD3S

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture hosts "LATITUD3S," a two-day symposium reflecting on Architecture in the Americas. March 31 + April 1, 2011. Mebane Gallery in Goldsmith Hall.


Mauricio Pezo
Sofia Von Ellrichshausen
Mónica Bertolino
Carla Juacaba
Daniel Bonilla
Mauricio Rocha
Charles Renfro
Pat Hanson
Patricia Patkau

For more information, click here.

RDA Grants Program:Initiatives for Houston 2011

Rice Design Alliance announces its twelfth annual grants program for students and faculty of the Rice School of Architecture, the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, the College of Architecture at Prairie View, and the Department of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University.

RDA will make separate awards of up to $5,000 each to a student and a faculty winners.

The Initiatives for Houston grants program focuses on Houston’s built environment, its history, present condition, and future development. A variety of regional projects will be considered, including historic research, speculative studies and projects, problem solving and planning projects, and studies that document the conditions of the city and its architecture. Proposals will be evaluated in terms of their potential for making a significant contribution to our understanding of the city and/or the region.

More information can be found here.

Applications are due by March 25, 2011.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dallas Center for Architecture Launches New Program

DCFA Launches New Program
An Appetite for Architecture: Dallas Fish Market
Thursday, March 3 at 6:00 p.m.

Presented in partnership by the Dallas Center for Architecture and Savor Dallas, An Appetite for Architecture explores restaurant spaces and the connections between food and design. Several times a year, we'll gather in an architecturally significant restaurant for food and drink and to hear from the architects/designers of the space and the chefs who inhabit them.

Our first edition will be at Dallas Fish Market, located in the architecturally significant Kirby Building on Main Street in downtown Dallas. We'll hear from the architects from 5gStudio on their recent work to renovate the space...with special attention to the challenges presented by a landmarked building. Dallas Fish Market founder and DRG Concepts president and developer Mike Hoque is focused on Downtown Dallas and on Main Street. He will also join the conversation and discuss how they worked with the architect to create a space that is functional for the staff and welcoming to guests.

We'll kick things off at 6:00 p.m. with a glass of wine and appetizers, then begin the discussion at 6:30 p.m. We hope you'll join us!

$25 per person. Register here.