Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jeff Johnson Comic Series, August 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!

August 1956

Monday, June 27, 2011

Narrow Escapes in West Texas Wildfires

Extremely dry conditions around Texas and the Southwest have fueled numerous wildfires since April, and the weather forecast doesn’t offer much relief to reduce fears of further conflagrations through the summer. While the efforts of firefighters have so far protected populated areas, flames have destroyed a number of homes and other buildings in rural locales.

One of this year’s worst wildfires occurred in April in the Davis Mountains near the McDonald Observatory. Dramatic photos posted on various astronomy websites ( showed glowing flames in the vicinity of the telescopes, but that fire was a control burn taken as a precaution to alleviate the threat of a larger disaster. Another blog post ( reported that the fire caused a temporary power outage at the observatory complex. And while another wildfire at the same time damaged buildings in the nearby town of Fort Davis, there were no reports of harm to the nineteenth-century military structures at the Fort Davis National Historic Site.

(The top photo, taken on April 17, shows the control burn on Black Mountain behind the Hobby-Eberly Telescope dome. The other photo, taken on April 9, shows the Smith Telescope with the control burn on the horizon. Both photos taken by Frank Cianciolo courtesy of the McDonald Observatory.)

In late June, the Texas Forest Service ( reported that elevated fire weather conditions continued to be in effect northwest of a line from Fort Worth to Del Rio including the southern half of the Texas Panhandle. The report also mentioned that state firefighters had recently responded to two new fires, one in Wichita County and another in Hardeman County. In addition, the report stated that three wildfires – the Miles Fire in Wheeler County (500 acres), the Boyken Fire in Howard County (5,067 acres), and the Mitchell Ranch 2 Fire in Crockett County (3,212 acres) – had been contained.

As of June 27, burn bans were in effect in 230 of the state’s 254 counties, which dampened hopes for fireworks in celebration of the July Fourth holiday.

2011 Session Summary (Updated!)

In previous ADVOCACY blogs, we reported that all our priority bills had passed so, barring a veto from Governor Perry, they would become law. We’re delighted to say that, for the first time in four sessions, the Governor didn’t veto a single bill we identified—and supported—as architectural practice priority. Since we previously described those priority bills in some detail, this report will focus more on when those changes become effective, etc., as well as providing a link to more detailed information, including a link to the Enrolled version of each bill. (Click on bill numbers in the sub-titles.) In reverse numerical order, they are:

HB 2284 (see May 25, 27 and June 6 blogs)

Summary—A/E “Peace Accord” bill that settles 20+-year scope-of-practice disputes between the professions. In trade for creating a process by which certain licensed engineers can be “grandfathered” (between September 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012) to continue practicing architecture without an architecture license, language was added to the Engineering Practice Act stating that an architect must prepare the architectural plans and specifications for any building intended for human use or occupancy, as well as “the practice of engineering does not include the practice of architecture.”

Effective Date—September 1, 2011

Exemptions or Exclusions—See those previously reported on the TSA Blog regarding an engineer’s eligibility to apply for “grandfathering.”

HB 2093 (see May 25 and 27 blogs)

Summary—Makes broad-form indemnification clauses “void and unenforceable.” In other words, as a matter of public policy, after the effective date most contracts will require each party to be responsible for its own acts, and will not allow one party to dictate to another that a “second party” must indemnify and defend the “first party” against the first party’s acts of negligence. The “void and unenforceable” limitation also extends to any requirement to purchase additional insurance for such indemnification contingencies.

Effective Date—January 1, 2012

Exemptions or Exclusions—Specific classes of exempted construction contracts include residential (single family house, townhouse or duplex, including any related land development) and municipal projects. In addition, language for common or current exemptions such as bodily injury or death of an employee, breach of contract, general indemnity agreements required by sureties or in loan or financing documents, general “benefits and protections” language under state workers comp or governmental immunity laws, etc., are included.

HB 1728 (see May 25 and June 7 blogs)

Summary—Establishes parameters for energy-performance or energy-conservation contracts, including available sources of funds to pay for them. Of particular interest to architects is the language limiting K-12 public education entities from disallowing “proper allocation” of available tax credits added to Section 44.902 of the Education Code (See page 3). Similar language for other public entities is found in HB 51.

Effective Date—September 1, 2011

Exemptions or Exclusions—None

HB 628 (see May 25 and May 27 blogs)

Summary—Consolidates the language dealing with Alternative Project Delivery methods now found in three different codes (Education, Government and Local Government) into a single chapter of the Government Code. It also provides a bit of needed tort reform by requiring that money received by a school district as the result of a construction-defect lawsuit—regardless whether a settlement or verdict—be spent to fix the problem for which the lawsuit was filed.

Effective Date— September 1, 2011

Exemptions or Exclusions—While the bill has almost universal impact on all public entities, there are notable exceptions like the Texas Department of Transportation and institutions of higher learning (although community and junior colleges are included).

HB 51 (see May 25 and June 7 blogs)

Summary—Requires state buildings to be designed and constructed or renovated to achieve certification under a nationally recognized program such as LEED or Green Globes, or a comparable program developed by a municipally owned energy producer. Also includes language that says a design professional’s services to achieve such third-party certification are not to be considered “basic services,” and that public entities may not disallow proper allocation of potential tax credits. (See page 5, lines 15-24 of the bill.)

Effective Date—September 1, 2011

Exemptions or Exclusions—Higher education buildings may be exempted in cases where the governing board has already adopted another, reasonably equivalent, set of energy-conservation standards, or requests and is granted an “undue hardship” waiver from SECO, which includes providing documentation demonstrating need for the waiver. Also, buildings for which a Higher Ed entity advertises seeking RFQs, RFPs, bids, etc., before September 1, 2013 are exempt. Only their buildings or projects initiated after that date are covered. For state buildings, the effective date is September 1, 2011.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Texas Architect Contributor: Mario L. Sanchez, PhD

Mario L. Sanchez, PhD became interested in architecture during visits to modernist construction sites in his native Havana with his architect-uncle Antonio Fojo. Since 1987, he has focused on historic preservation and its link to community development. Recently, he wrote the South Texas section for the Society of Architectural Historians’ Buildings of Texas (edited by Gerald Moorhead, FAIA), which will be released by the University of Virginia Press in 2012. See page 42 for his article on Ancient Oaks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Texas Architect Contributors: Jim Atkins, FAIA & Grant Simpson, FAIA

Grant A. Simpson, FAIA, is an accomplished Southern cook taught by his Cajun grandmother. This aging warrior can usually be found listening to Hawaiian music in his backyard tropical paradise; cultivating frangipani, enjoying his tiki torches, or constructing a bamboo trellis…(for which he carefully prepared a work plan); red beans and rice anyone? See his Practice article, co-authored by Jim Atkins, on page 79 of the Texas Architect July/August edition.

Jim Atkins, FAIA, likes to fish, whether it is fighting blue marlin in the Bahamas, working the snapper banks in the Gulf, or wading fishing the Laguna Madre. When he can't make it to the big water he settles for a more serene endeavor. His goldfish are the winners. See his Practice article, co-authored by FAIA member Grant A. Simpson, on page 79 of the Texas Architect July/August edition.

The Work, Part I: The Contractor’s Work Plan
Understanding contract documents for managing and directing the Work

This two-part series will take a look at the contractor’s sole responsibility for the Work and how to evaluate the contractor’s approach to its supervision, coordination, and direction. Part 1 examines the planning that is logically and often contractually required, including the primary organizational framework—the Contractor’s Work Plan. The second and final installment (scheduled for publication in the Sept/Oct 2011 edition) will examine the contractor’s obligations for delivering conforming work, common approaches by contractors to alter work scope and avoid conformance, and suggested actions to take to confirm the existence of a Work Plan if indications appear otherwise.

This series does not purport to invent new ways for developing a contractor’s plan for implementing the Work. Many of the tried and true elements of an effective and adequate Work Plan already exist and can be readily found in common construction contracts, general conditions, and guide specifications.

Below are consolidated references from AIA Document A201: General Conditions.

Who’s Responsible for the Work?
In its capacity as supervisor, coordinator, and director of the Work, the contractor must obviously develop and implement a reasonable and prudent plan for organizing, phasing, coordinating, scheduling, and implementing the Work.

This responsibility is clearly stated and repeatedly emphasized in the AIA’s General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.

• Section 1.1.3 identifies the Work as the contractor’s responsibility: “The term ‘Work’ means the construction and services required by the Contract Documents, whether completed or partially completed, and includes all other labor, materials, equipment and services provided or to be provided by the Contractor to fulfill the Contractor’s obligations.”

• Section 3.3.1 states that the contractor is in complete charge and control of the Work and is the only contracted entity that bears such responsibility: “The Contractor shall supervise and direct the Work, using the Contractor’s best skill and attention. The Contractor shall be solely responsible for, and have control over, construction means, methods, techniques, sequences and procedures and for coordinating all portions of the Work under the Contract, unless the Contract Documents give other specific instructions concerning these matters.”

• Section 3.1.3 states that the responsibility is absolute and cannot be assumed or circumvented by the actions of the architect, or deferred upon the architect: “The Contractor shall not be relieved of obligations to perform the Work in accordance with the Contract Documents either by activities or duties of the Architect in the Architect’s administration of the Contract, or by tests, inspections or approvals required or performed by persons or entities other than the Contractor.”

What Comprises a Work Plan?
The elements of a Work Plan can vary based on the contractor’s expertise and approach, but the minimum services and components required of the contractor can be found in the AIA General Conditions, which include:

• Section 1.2.2: “… dividing the Work among Subcontractors or … establishing the extent of Work to be performed by any trade.”

• Section 3.2.2: “…the Contractor shall, before starting each portion of the Work…take field measurement of any existing conditions…for the purpose of facilitating coordination and construction.”

• Section 3.3.3: “The Contractor shall be responsible for inspection of portions of the Work already performed to determine that such portions are in proper condition to receive subsequent Work.”

• Section 3.7.2: “The Contractor shall comply with and give notices required by applicable laws, statutes, ordinances, codes, rules and regulations, and lawful orders of public authorities applicable to the performance of the Work.”

• Section 3.10.1: “The Contractor…shall prepare and submit…a Contractor’s construction schedule for the Work.”

• Section 3.10.2: “The Contractor shall prepare a submittal schedule…coordinated with the Contractor’s construction schedule…”

• Section 3.11: “The Contractor shall maintain at the site…one copy of the Drawings, Specifications, Addenda, Change Orders and other Modifications…to indicate field changes and selections made during construction, and one copy of approved Shop Drawings, Product Data, Samples and similar required submittals.”

• Section 3.12.1: “Shop Drawings are drawings, diagrams, schedules and other data specially prepared for the Work by the Contractor, or a Subcontractor, Sub-subcontractor, manufacturer, supplier or distributor to illustrate some portion of the Work.”

• Section 3.12.4: “Shop Drawings, Product Data, Samples and similar submittals…purpose is to demonstrate the way by which the Contractor proposes to conform to the…Contract Documents…”

• Section 3.12.6: “By submitting Shop Drawings, Product Data, Samples and similar submittals, the Contractor represents…that the Contractor has…reviewed and approved them,…checked and coordinated the information contained within such submittals…”

• Section 9.2: “[Preparing]…a schedule of values allocating the entire Contract Sum to the various portions of the Work…[to]…be used as a basis for reviewing the Contractor's Applications for Payment.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

'NCARB Talks' Video Series

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has launched a new video series entitled “NCARB Talks,” featuring short, informal conversations with architects on staff. 

These videos give viewers a glimpse of individual triumphs and challenges on the path to licensure. They discuss their experiences with the Intern Development Program (IDP), the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), and the importance of getting licensed and ultimately NCARB certified.

Whether you are a student considering the profession, or are an intern currently in the process of becoming licensed, this series provides insight into the licensure process. These videos are also a resource to illustrate the realities of the profession for those mentoring the next generation of architects.

All videos are available at and NCARB’s YouTube channel at

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Student to Architect: The Path to Licensure

Earning a license to practice architecture is an important career milestone. Watch a short video as NCARB architects discuss the path to licensure and the essential steps involved.

Texas Architect Contributor: Lauraine Miller, Hon. TSA

Lauraine Miller, Hon. TSA has been the producer/editor of The Shape of Texas radio program since 1999. She fell in love with the built environment as a child in Brooklyn, where, on clear days, she could see the top of the Empire State Building from her bedroom window. Read her article on page 50.

Monday, June 13, 2011

McNay Spotlights George Nelson

by Stephen Sharpe, Hon. TSA

The newly installed retrospective of George Nelson’s work at the McNay Art Institute in San Antonio offers a comprehensive look at the extraordinary range of a consummate designer. The exhibit encompasses Nelson’s early journalism, his iconic designs for furnishings by Herman Miller, and his elegant architectural projects. “George Nelson: Architect/Writer/Designer/Teacher” remains on view through Sept. 11.

I attended a media preview on June 8, led by staff curator Rene Barilleaux, who did not assemble the show but nonetheless is well versed in Nelson’s oeuvre and his place in the pantheon of American designers. Almost all of the pieces on display are on loan from the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Vitra – perhaps best known for its tiny replicas of famous chairs by twentieth-century designers – owns the European copyrights for Nelson’s work.

The exhibit, sponsored by Herman Miller, has been traveling for a couple of years, having come from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to the McNay’s Jane & Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions. The companion book, published in 2008 by the Vitra Design Museum and available at the McNay’s gift shop, neatly organizes Nelson’s multiple and overlapping careers. Also on sale are several reproductions of his classic designs, including the Ball Clock and a miniature Marshmallow Sofa.

Following the media preview, invited guests were treated to an informal “conversation” between Vitra CEO Rolf Fehlbaum and Bill Lacy, FAIA, whose personal recollections included an observation of Nelson’s “wicked sense of humor.” To demonstrate Nelson’s satiric wit, Fehlbaum quoted some of the headlines of Nelson’s articles—“Design Technology and the Pursuit of Ugliness,” “A Problem of Design: How to Kill People,” and “Does It Really Matter What Color You Paint a Nuclear Bomb?”

In his brief remarks, Fehlbaum said he wouldn’t be in business if not for George Nelson. He credited Nelson for showing him how to organize operations in a manner very different from the way most European companies did. That business model has proved successful for Vitra, which maintains a compact corporate campus just across the border from Basel, Switzerland. As Fehlbaum illustrated in a short slide show, he has collected a menagerie of buildings by internationally known architects. They include a fire station by Zaha Hadid, a petrol station by Jean ProuvĂ© (relocated to the campus), a geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller, a conference pavilion by Tadao Ando, and the Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry.

An erudite connoisseur of design, Fehlbaum suggested that Nelson’s body of work is less appreciated by the general public because he was an inventor of typologies rather than single pieces (with a few exceptions). The exhibit supports his conclusion, with displays that focus on Nelson’s concepts for the domestic storage wall (depicted in a humorously staged photo shoot for Life magazine) and modular "office systems" that were ahead of their time and sometimes failed in the marketplace. On that latter subject, Lacy recounted how he worked within the federal government to help bureaucrats accept the trend away from requisitioning individual desks and chairs for each employee in favor of ordering a workstation.

In closing, Lacy thanked Fehlbaum for raising the public’s awareness of Nelson’s work by loaning the pieces for the traveling exhibit. The show, he said, “is like Rolf brought the museum.” Fehlbaum responded with a compliment to the McNay, saying, “It looks better here than at our museum."

UT Architecture Students Build "Green" Complex for African Children

More than 400 children from 19 villages in Tanzania, East Africa, will have access to clean water, sanitary facilities, and an education due to help from students in the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin.

Graduate students in the School of Architecture designed a complex to be located in the Simanjiro district in Tanzania, located to the east of the Serengeti National Park and to the south of Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa. The complex will serve the parish of Father Peter Pascal Pinto.

The “green build” complex, with natural lighting and ventilation, will be constructed using local building materials and hand-built construction techniques. Included in the design are 10 classrooms, dorms for students and volunteers, an outdoor cooking facility, teacher housing, sanitation facilities, and a well to provide water for the children and community, for animal herds, and for crop irrigation.

The project, a collaboration between the nonprofit organization Africa’s Promise Village and the School of Architecture, is under the direction of Professor Michael Garrison.

Click here to continue reading.

AIA Dallas: Portfolio/Resume Workshop

Click on image to view larger version, or visit:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Maeda and Ryan to Deliver Keynote Addresses at TSA Convention in Dallas

John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design

John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, and Rebecca Ryan, of Next Generation Consulting, will deliver keynote addresses on Fri., Oct. 28, during the Texas Society of Architects 72nd Annual Convention and Design Products and Ideas Expo, Oct 27-29, in Dallas.

Maeda is a Japanese-American graphic designer, computer scientist, university professor, and author whose work in design and technology explores the area where the two fields merge. As a software engineering student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he became fascinated with the work of Paul Rand and Muriel Cooper. Cooper was a director of MIT’s Visual Language Workshop. After completing his bachelors and masters degrees at MIT, Maeda studied in Japan at Tsukuba University’s Institute of Art and Design to complete his Ph.D. in design.

In 1999, Maeda was named one of the 21 most important people in the 21st century by Esquire. In 2001, he received the national Design Award for Communication Design in the United States and Japan’s Mainichi Design Prize. In 2006, Maeda published the best-seller Laws of Simplicity based on a research project to find ways for people to simplify their life in the face of growing complexity. He is a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.

Rebecca Ryan, Next Generation Consulting

Rebecca Ryan and her team at Next Generation Consulting is “a reliable source for CEOs, mayors, legislators, economic developers, and non-profit leaders who want to attract and retain the next generation of creative workers to their community or organization.” So wrote Richard Florida for the foreword of Ryan’s Live First, Work Second. Ryan is able to help others see their organizations and institutions through the lens of this newest crop of creatives so that smart and strategic adjustments align in ways that will draw them in. Regardless of zip code, native language, or vocation, members of the Creative Class place as much emphasis on where and how they live as where they work.

Raised in Wisconsin by members of the “greatest generation,” Ryan played professional basketball in Iowa, Minneapolis, Germany, and Hungary before returning to her home state. Accolades include 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year (U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship), Communicator of the Year 2006 (Women in Communication), and Ones to Watch 2009 (Inside Public Accounting).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Advocacy Update

David Lancaster
TSA Senior Manager of Advocacy

After every session, there is a 20-day “post-session review period,” in which the Texas Governor can 1) veto, 2) sign into law, or 3) let become law without signature any bill that was passed during that Regular Session. While waiting for the 2011 period to run its course, here are some additional comments in response to questions that have already been raised about two bills mentioned in our May 25 and May 27 Advocacy Updates blogs, and/or the most recent CheckSet article.

After this year’s constitutional “veto period” ends, we’ll post a more comprehensive “final action” report about bills that were on TSA’s Legislative Tracking System, including descriptions of some “non-bill” lobbying activities (like working to defeat bad amendments to good—or at least benign—legislation) that we believe helped to advance or protect the profession.

HB 2284
The potential for a “grandfather” opportunity for engineers mentioned in June’s CheckSet article is much different from the one that came with passage of the interior designer title act in 1991. Because so many architects were grandfathered 20 years ago under that earlier law, several called or wrote asking for more detail, or at least clarification, about the difference or similarities between the two situations.

For an engineer to be granted a waiver by TBAE, he or she must offer documentation that they prepared the architectural plans and specifications for at least three projects that exceeded the threshold where an architect would be required. That application and documentation process must occur between Sept. 1, 2011, and Jan. 1, 2012. The Board of Architectural Examiners must determine during that time whether or not the projects are eligible or not, and if the projects were built "safely and adequately." (The TBAE decision is appealable to the State Office of Administrative Hearings.)

Contrast that with 1991 when, because all architects were exempt under that new title (as opposed to practice) law, they had two years in which to do so. All that was necessary was that an architect file the required paperwork asking to be jointly recognized and registered as an Architect and Interior Designer.

One of the most important elements of HB 2284 is the wording that, while architecture and engineering may be closely related...while they even have significant areas of overlap, the two professions are sufficiently different that the legislature had reason to put into statute that engineers may not prepare all the plans and specifications for a building intended for human use or occupancy; architects must be involved in those projects, too.

That clarification – that the practice of engineering does not include the practice of architecture – is what has been sought for many years. Given this clarification, our part of the negotiations centered on how to develop the best, most responsible "prove up" grandfathering process to qualify the number of engineers who might make it onto TBAE's “exempt list.”

HB 51/HB 1728
We’ve received numerous calls from optimistic members (or their accountants) about the “IRS Code, Section 179D” tax credit potential in both these bills, so here’s more helpful detail from the AIA national headquarters. (Note: there are two hyper-links embedded in the AIA article below, including one to a webinar on the topic. If you have questions that still can’t be answered, contact Christina Finkenhofer at or call her 202/626-7478.)

*179D Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Texas Architect Contributor: Bart Shaw, AIA

Bart Shaw, AIA is the founder of Bart Shaw Architect. Recently, his entry in a holocaust memorial design competition was selected by Richard Meier and Daniel Libeskind as a finalist from an international field of 715 entries. Bart is president-elect of AIA Fort Worth and will be the organization’s president in 2012. Read his feature article on page 56.