The comic will appear once a month on the TSA blog until the end of the series. Enjoy!
Monday, May 30, 2011
The comic will appear once a month on the TSA blog until the end of the series. Enjoy!
Friday, May 27, 2011
Since we’ve been posting a lot lately…because there has been a lot of action the past two weeks…the "news” portion of this will be only briefly bulleted. Here’s the status of our priority legislation as of 4 pm Friday, May 27:
• HB 2284, the A/E scope-of-practice “peace bill”—passed 5/25, headed to Governor
• HB 628, the Alternative Project Delivery consolidation bill—conference committee report written, awaiting placement on the Items Eligible list for approval in both chambers…its prospects are good
• HB 51, High Performance Building Standards bill—passed 5/27, headed to Governor
• HB 1728, Energy Performance Contracts bill—passed 5/26, headed to Governor
• HB 2093, the bill amended to include a prohibition against broad-form indemnification clauses—conference committee report written, awaiting placement on the Items Eligible list for approval in both chambers…its prospects are improving
(You can also read Yvonne Castillo's article in CheckSet next week for more detail about general categories of legislation we impacted, and we’ll follow up with a complete report shortly after this session adjourns Sine Die on Monday.)
Now…for the editorial part of this report. I have either reported on or been a lobbyist in every legislative session since 1977, and I’m here to tell you the 2011 edition was truly “unique”…to be euphemistic. (Think Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times”…and how that can mean anything.) Yesterday, I watched something unfold that I never expected to witness in my lobbying career—a direct hit on the “Go Along-Get-Along, Good Ol’ Boy” culture of the Texas House.
Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the longest serving female member of the House made a personal privilege speech that shook the House. (Want to watch it, check out this YouTube video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKf-6WiBq_Q). When it was over, she received supportive comments from a number of her House “sisters,” then the (male) head of the Democratic caucus announced the creation of a task force of male Ds to address Miss T’s concerns and invited the Republican caucus to identify several male members of that group to join the “D-men” in coming up with solutions…and quickly.
We’ve noted in previous posts that there has been more tension this year than in previous sessions, whether from the strain of a huge budget shortfall, more partisanship due to the Republican’s super-majority in the House (not to mention a 19-12 margin in the Senate and all the statewide offices), or trying to protect their electoral futures during re-districting. Gender politics wasn’t the radar screen, though, until yesterday…but it arrived in a big way. It was certainly bi-partisan, so it looks like it’s here to stay, if not all, at least in part.
I’ve seen many changes over the last 30+ years, most of them significant improvements. Now, I believe I’ve seen them all! Check out the video…you will, too.
(Despite the jokes we like to tell on ourselves to maintain our “wild and wooly ballot-box-packin’ reputation,” our government is arguably the most open, fair and transparent in the nation. And even with increases in partisanship over the past decade, I honestly believe we’re affected less by it than most others.)
Paul Lodholz, AIA is a senior principal with Ziegler Cooper Architects and heads its Worship Place Studio, which revolves around numerous religious and non-profit clients. A resident of Houston since 1976, Paul is a former partner with Gerald Tackett and a former assistant professor at the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. With his wife, Joetta, he has enjoyed the many blessings of life in Houston, including raising four wonderful children and settling into being a grandparent, which is easily the most fun of all the fun one could have. See his Backpage article on page 80.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
(HB 2284 is, of course, the AE "Peace" bill that passed the Senate today and now awaits concurrence in the House. We believe it is likely to be on the Governor's desk before the session ends.)
After thinking it was dead because it hadn't been reported as coming out of committee in time, we now know that HB 51 is still alive. This is the High Performance Standards bill, and it includes our "comprehensive" 179D tax credit amendment that includes all levels of government. Our primary focus tomorrow will be helping ensure Sen. Hinojosa is recognized to bring it up for a vote...because tomorrow is the last day for the Senate to pass a bill or resolution (for the first time).
Soooo...if we can strip the bad amendments from 628 (and the "wavering" negotiators don't switch their focus to just killing It)...and we get HB 51 out of the Senate...we may well be on our way to an incredibly, spectacularly successful session! Until this year, I never thought we'd ever approach the success achieved in 1989, when we got both our practice act and lien law...but even that could be surpassed this year.
The next 3-4 days will decide how this session will rank in TSA history, but it has to be considered a success regardless given our AE resolution, plus the likelihood of the tax credit language and indemnification protections being added. (BTW...we may get another "business" bonus if SB 1811 isn't amended to strip an amendment that would disallow state entities from using sovereign immunity as a defense in breach of contract suits. That will be a more difficult change to keep...but it's not impossible.)
Hope this isn't too much "inside baseball" jargon...if it is, please forgive me. Questions? Call us, but be prepared to hear even more technical terms, acronyms, etc. We've been living and breathing this stuff--intensely--for the last two weeks, so be patient...and ask lots of questions.
Monday, May 23, 2011
TSA General Counsel
Last week we activated our grassroots efforts twice on (1) a proposal that would have consolidated the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and (2) another proposal that would have created a statewide stock school plans program. Thanks to those of you who participated in our grassroots alert! You voice made a difference and helped us defeat both…at least for now. There’s a week left in the Session and anything could happen.
On another note, we’ve been successful in getting some favorable language added to three separate bills that will help design professionals who choose to pursue federal tax deduction opportunities that were authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. One of which, I’ll admit, surprised me – House Bill 51 – the sustainable design bill. I personally didn’t think that the bill had a chance this Session because of past fiscal concerns and the dire economic budget climate, but indeed the bill has passed the House and the Senate Committee and is moving to the Senate Floor for the full Senate’s consideration.
Lastly, Senate Committee Substitute for HB 2284 is 91% through the process of passage. This is the bill that has been negotiated between the Texas Society of Architects, Texas Society of Professional Engineers and the Council of Engineering Companies. It was voted out of the Senate Committee on Saturday morning (May 21st) and will likely be passed out of the Senate Local Calendar very soon. This bill attempts to clarify the demarcation between architecture and engineering and creates a one-year window for engineers (licensed as of January 1, 2011) to apply to the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners to be on a list of engineers who are authorized to practice architecture without regulatory oversight of the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners.
For information on any of these bills or issues, don’t hesitate to contact me, David Lancaster (Sr. Manager of Advocacy) or Ted Kozlowski (Administrative Assistant for Advocacy) at 512-478-7386.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Jurors were David Salmela, FAIA, of Salmela Architects in Duluth, Minn.; Steve Dumez, FAIA, of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple in New Orleans; and James S. Russell, FAIA, architecture critic for Bloomberg News in New York City. Awarded projects will be featured in the September/October issue of Texas Architect.
A special thank you to Blackson Brick, the 2011 Design Awards Jury sponsor.
2011 Design Awards:
• Arizona State University Polytechnic Academic Building (Mesa, Ariz.) by Lake/Flato Architects and RSP Architects
• Armstrong Oil & Gas Heaquarters (Denver, Colo.) by Lake/Flato Architects and Bothwell Davis George Architects
• Arthouse at the Jones Center (Austin, Texas) by LTL Architects
• Brockman Hall for Physics (Houston, Texas) by Kieran Timberlake
• Brown Residence (Scottsdale, Ariz.) by Lake/Flato Architects
• Cabin on Flathead Lake (Polson, Mont.) by Andersson Wise Architects
• Cutting Horse Ranch (Cross Timbers Region, Texas) by Lake/Flato Architects
• Full Goods (San Antonio, Texas) by Lake/Flato Architects in association with DHR Architects
• Rainwater Court (Mahiga, Nairobi area, Kenya) by Dick Clark Architecture in association with Architecture for Humanity
• Sam Houston Tollway Northwest Main Lane Plaza and Exit Toll (Houston, Texas) by RdlR Architects
• Singing Bell Ranch (Hunt County, Texas) by Max Levy Architects
• Sisters' Retreat (Austin, Texas) by Mell Lawrence Architects
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
TSA Senior Manager of Advocacy
There’s a similarity between architecture and the legislative process that came into very clear focus this past week…and that is how things always come together in a flurry of activity at deadline time. No matter how much work has gone into a project (or into a bill) earlier, decisions must be made at the very end if everything is going to result in a “final product,” whether that’s a building or a law.
That is certainly the case for all the work that’s previously been done on several of TSA’s priority issues, including HB 51 (High Performance Building Standards), HB 628 (Alternative Project Delivery) and HB 2284 (A/E overlap issues). They are all still alive, and we’re continuing to work them hard to make sure the final product is a good one.
All three of these bills passed the House last week—on the final possible day. They have now been assigned to committees in the Senate, so they’ll likely be up for review or action the week of May 16. If they get quick action, they have an ever-increasing chance of becoming law; if they don’t, or if major changes must be made, they will likely die. The fewer changes the Senate makes, the better the bills’ chances of getting concurrence in the House…and we expect there will be Senate changes; in fact, we’re pushing at least one amendment on all three.
May 12-13 was the deadline for House bills to be approved on Second (2nd) Reading or die. We appreciate what so many members did in helping convince Representatives serving on the Calendars Committee either to set our priority measures for action…or not setting bills that seemed bad for the profession. We succeeded totally, achieving all we had hoped for…and more than anticipated. (The next such deadline, this time for comparable advancement of Senate bills, will be May 23-24.)
Despite the fact that HB 3166 was not set by the Calendars Committee for floor action (along with almost all of the other “bad” bills we’ve been tracking), however, we’re still very focused on ensuring that the content of such inappropriate legislation doesn’t get attached as an amendment to other, still viable bills. For this reason, we’re still actively monitoring every possible vehicle that could be used to consolidate the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) with other agencies, including (if not especially) the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE), as was proposed in HB 3166…or language that would limit TBAE’s authority to regulate the practice of architecture fully, as proposed in HB 1698.
Please stay on “High Alert” for a TSA Legislative Alert this week and next. Just like you would with putting those final construction documents together at the end of the design process, we must be prepared to act…and act decisively…to ensure the best final product possible, or to prevent things that could turn into problems later. Thanks for everyone’s participation so far...and please stay ready to help us get successfully to the end of the 82nd Regular Session!
Ed Soltero, AIA serves as director of planning and construction at the University of Texas at El Paso. He received his Master of Architecture from NewSchool of Architecture + Design and will pursue a doctoral degree starting this fall. When not working, he likes to travel around the world photographing architecture. See his article about El Paso’s new federal courthouse on page 62.
THE RETURN OF VOODOO ECONOMICS
Amending SB 1811 by sticking in Callegari’s CSHB 3166 just doesn’t make economic sense…it only moves money from one state pocket to another.
CSHB 3166’s positive Fiscal Note is the result of dumping fees from two Self-Directed/Semi Independent (SDS I) agencies into General Revenue, not a product of organizational efficiencies.
A more significant incongruence is that there will be 58 more FTEs counted on the state employee roster as a result of the re-classification of SDSI employees. They aren’t counted on the state rolls now but will be in the future…increasing the size of state government, not shrinking it.
IT’S PREMATURE…KILLS SUNSET REVIEWS
All the agencies being consolidated under the Callegari amendment are up for Sunset Review in 2013. Why consolidate now without the Sunset Advisory Commission’s thorough study? Not only are the agencies going through Sunset in 2013, the whole SDSI pilot/research program, started in 2001, is up for Sunset next session, too. Consolidation now is counter-intuitive AND counter-productive!
IT THREATENS EFFECTIVE REGULATION
A single board regulating multiple professions dilutes the expertise needed to oversee each. The result is less expertise. The loss of focus from this increased generalization shows up in weaker regulatory enforcement. If there isn’t a direct reduction in regulatory oversight, there’s certainly a loss of effective enforcement, which, in cases of professional practices that impact health and safety, is a major concern for architects and engineers.
IT’S A TROJAN HORSE…UPSETTING PROFESSIONAL BALANCE
A consolidated board could give engineers the right to determine the future of the practice of architecture. The two professions are different and not interchangeable. Each has distinct educational, training, and examination requirements. One can’t, and shouldn’t, speak or decide for the other.
Friday, May 13, 2011
This year, Hill was chosen to illustrate a map that detailed the route taken by the Royal Family to Westminster Abbey on the morning of the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton. The map was included in the Royal Wedding Official Programme.
On the wedding day, guests received a copy of the programme as they entered the church, and 150,000 copies were sold by 60 Explorer Scouts and 80 Cadets (supervised by adults) for £2 per copy at locations in Green Park, Hyde Park, St James’s Park and Trafalgar Square. Profits from the sale of the Official Programme went go to benefit The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry.
image courtesy The British Monarchy
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Dear Alumni and Friends,
We have set up a memorial page in honor of our dear friend Hal Box, and encourage you to leave your thoughts and memories of Hal: http://soa.utexas.edu/soapress/hal-box/.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Memorial services for Hal Box, FAIA, will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2011, at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 301 E. 8th Street, Austin. Additional details are available from Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home:
Box died Sunday, May 8, at the age of 81. Over a long career that combined a distinguished architectural practice with his passion for architectural education, Box served as a role model for hundreds – if not thousands – of architects and future architects. Among his many significant accomplishments included his being recruited in 1971 as the first dean of the School of Architecture and Environmental Design at UT-Arlington, followed by his influential leadership as dean from 1976 to 1992 of the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture.
His remarkable career was recognized in 1998 by the Texas Society of Architects with its highest honor for a TSA member, the Llewellyn W. Pitts Award (now called the TSA Medal for Lifetime Achievement).
The observance of MODern Month in Midland was the brainchild of Brandon Melland, Planner with the City of Midland Planning Division. The list of notable structures was compiled by my research and a significant dose of data provided by the eminent architectural historian Stephen Fox. The genesis of the tour was about a year ago as a result of a request by the Texas Historical Commission for me to host a similar tour for a regional committee meeting they were holding in Midland.
We hope that the tour will become an annual event and be a stepping stone in the ongoing effort of revitalization of downtown Midland, as well as lead to a growing appreciation by our citizens of the quality of our stock of mid-century modern structures.
Below are pictures from the tour courtesy of Brandon Melland, with the City of Midland's Planning Division, and who attended UTSA's architecture school.
By Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
"It is hard to overstate the significance of this loss to our community," said Fritz Steiner, current dean of the UT School of Architecture. "Hal was an extraordinary architect and scholar and visionary leader, as well as a loving and generous person. His imprint on our school and Texas will endure."
John Harold Box was born in 1929 in Commerce, where his father was on the faculty of East Texas State Teachers College. Precociously smart, the young "Hal" Box completed a five-year architecture degree at UT when he was 20 and spent a brief period as an apprentice to leading Texas regional modernist O'Neil Ford, an experience Box would later credit as profoundly inspirational.
After a stint in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps as an aircraft designer, Box began his professional practice in Dallas, where he co-founded the firm of Pratt, Box and Henderson Architect in 1958. The firm's projects included the master plan for the State Fair of Texas, as well as buildings at numerous college campuses around the country.
In 1971 he was recruited to be the first dean of the School of Architecture and Environmental Design at UT-Arlington. At the time, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex was the largest urban area in the United States without an architecture school. In 1976, Box was appointed dean at UT-Austin, a position he held for 16 years, followed by six years as a professor until his retirement in 1998. Box was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. In April, UT named Box a dean emeritus.
During his tenure as dean, Box upped the national profile of the architecture program significantly and raised a $6 million endowment for the critically underfunded school.
An advocate of New Urbanism, Box coined what became known as the "five-minute Popsicle rule'' — that an ideal urban neighborhood is one in which a child can go to the store to buy a Popsicle and get safely back home within five minutes.
Monday, May 9, 2011
TSA General Counsel
Warning. What you read today could easily change tomorrow, especially during the last days of the Session, which by the way now includes Saturdays from here on out. Remarkably, few bills have passed -- 3% of all bills filed –which isn’t surprising given the unprecedented number of controversial issues the legislature is facing this Session. To name a few (as if you didn’t already know): $27 billion shortfall, abortion, immigration, 20+ major agency sunset bills, and redistricting. That’s a formula for gridlock. Yet despite these distractions, it appears that TSA is possibly headed in the direction of some accomplishments.
A/E Issue - Since the beginning of Session, TSA leadership has been heavily involved in negotiating a resolution to the ongoing dispute between architects and engineers.
It’s not been an easy road by any stretch of the imagination. The Government Affairs Steering Committee voted yesterday to move forward following extensive and in-depth discussion.
The bill that has been negotiated would create an administrative process for one year, starting September 1, 2011, whereby the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners would consider applications from engineers who are licensed as of January 1, 2011 to apply to practice architecture. Successful applicants must demonstrate to the Board that they designed and built three projects for human use and occupancy (i.e. non-exempt projects under the Architects Practice Act) without an architect. Non-successful applicants may appeal to a binding arbitration panel. The successful applicants would remain under the jurisdiction of the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. In exchange, the definition of engineering, in the Engineers Practice Act is amended to explicitly exclude the practice of architecture as defined in the Architects Practice Act. The bill was voted out of the House yesterday and is headed to the Senate.
Tort Reform Issues - “Loser pay” themed legislation appears to have some momentum this Session, especially now that the Governor has declared the legislation as an “emergency” item. Already, a bill has passed that mandates that successful lien claimants recover attorneys and costs in defending their claims. It appears that other legislation with this same theme may prevail.
Tax Incentives – TSA is working to pass legislation that would ease the ability for architects to maximize on the use of federal tax incentives intended for design professionals that was built into the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Alternative Project Delivery – Consistency in delivery methods still has a chance for passage, but it’s going to be close. The clock is ticking for House bills. If we can get it out of the House next week, it’s looking good.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned. Next week could be a completely different story. Heck, Monday could be a completely different story! As always, please don’t hesitate to contact staff if you have questions.
Matt Fajkus, AIA is a graduate of Harvard University Graduate School of Design and UT Arlington. He’s worked for Max Levy, FAIA, Brinkley Sargent Architects, and Foster + Partners in London. He currently teaches at UT Austin and is designing a sustainable technology laboratory and two residences. His Open House feature begins on page 34.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
As I write this, things are strange in the Capital City, but keep in mind that our official city motto is “Keep Austin Weird.”
It’s May 2—which means there are 28 days left in the Regular Session—and cold, if you can believe Texas has ever had cold weather this late in the spring. In the previous sentence, I stressed that there are four weeks left in the Regular Session because I’m going to go on record now in predicting there will be at least one Special Session, maybe more. The Senate doesn’t seem able to come to agreement on its own version of a 2012-13 biennium budget, much less prepared to take on House conferees to negotiate differences between the House’s version of HB 1 and the Senate Finance committee’s version of that bill—currently a difference of about $12 billion. Establishing a budget for the following two years is the one-and-only requirement of every Texas Legislature, so the current state of flux (and/or impasse) only increases “Special Session likelihood” with each passing day.
The final 4-6 weeks of a Regular Session is typically the point where many bills start dying, although that doesn’t mean they disappear. This is the time when “bills become amendments”…things someone thought they had successfully bottled up earlier suddenly show up again in a bill that used to be OK, but now is a problem. If you’re confused, don’t worry, it’s not you…it’s the process. The good news is you do have professional staff in Austin who may not understand design or codes all that well, but we know the legislative process—and, we’re paranoid on your behalf!
Nothing that’s been identified as “TSA Priority Legislation” in previous blogs is dead, at least not “officially,” which is tremendously encouraging. We’re working both the committees that set bills for debate and action by the full House (Calendars and Local & Consent Calendars) hard to set bills that we want to pass, as well as trying to keep bad bills off those lists. For example, last week we urged affirmative action on HBs 611 and 628 (our Alternative Project Delivery bill) with Calendars, and HB 2284 (the A/E scope-of-practice negotiated compromise) with Local & Consent, and sent a Legislative Alert to TSA members who are constituents of the 15 members of the Calendars to oppose setting HB 3166, a bill that would consolidate the Boards of Architectural Examiners, Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.
Speaking of Legislative Alerts, please stay vigilant for any you receive. Not only are they critical in getting the Society’s message delivered to the right (decision-making) audience, they are time-sensitive. If you get one, please help us help you by acting…personally and quickly. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the TSA office. We’re here to help, whether you need us to clarify the request, interpret legislative jargon or explain the process. Our direct telephone numbers (all Area Code 512) are Yvonne Castillo—615-7730, Ted Kozlowski—615-7731, or David Lancaster—615-7735.