DIMENSION • Spring 2023 • UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design

Page 1

COVER STORY Alumni Network Brings Unexpected Collaboration IMPACT Planned Giving Leaves Lasting Legacy COMMUNITY Student Stories and Organization Spotlights BREAKTHROUGHS Faculty Research and Graham Foundation Grant

STUDENT STORY Hines College students

Yasmeen Saab and Kieran Renfrow will showcase their project Substrate at WantedDesign Manhattan's Launch Pad exhibition. Read more on page 18

Photo by Hussein Alhamadani and Ariyan Fouladvand
40 Coming Full Circle Network brings together unexpected collaboration reinventing tradition 52 Pursuing a Worthy Future Hines College graduating students share their personal experiences 60 Finding a Way in the Unfamiliar A dialogue with Vietnamese immigrant alumnus Manh Tran (M.Arch. '94, B.Arch. '91)
64 Beyond the Present Alumni plan for a lasting legacy of impact



Dean Patricia Belton Oliver, FAIA

Associate Dean Dietmar Froehlich, Ph.D., RA

Associate Dean Trang Phan, Ph.D.

Dimension is published by the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design Office of Marketing and Communications.

Executive Director of Communications

Stephen Schad

Director of Alumni Relations Dianca Chase

Digital Media Program Manager

Nicholas Nguyen

Graduate Assistant Symone Daniels

On the cover: An image of the Zanat woodcarving workshop with interior architecture students.

Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture & Design 4200 Elgin St. Houston, TX 77204 713-743-2400 arch.uh.edu

DIMENSION MAGAZINE / SPRING 2023 3 IN EVERY ISSUE 4 Dean's Letter 6 Upcoming Events 8 College News 80 Studio Spotlight
Five Years and Counting: Hines Student Tops Bienenstock Furniture Competition 16 Hines College Architecture Students Win AIA Fort Worth Merit Awards 18 Architecture Students Showcase Designs at International Exhibition 20 The Perfect Fits 23 Student Organizations You Should Know 26 FWIA Midterm Drawing Competition Winners 27 2023 Super Jury and Graduation Awards
/school/UHCoAD 80 34
Hines Architecture Historian Awarded Graham Foundation Research Grant
Proposal Excavates
Ecological Legacies of Territorial Expansionism
Hines College
Research Profile: Proposal Investigates the "Mesocosm"
Top AIA National Sustainability Award 34 Hair Salon Exhibition Showcases Architectural Potential of Black Hair 36 XO House Honored with 2023 TxA Design Award 38 Design/Build Professor Wins AISC Inaugural Award of Distinction 38 Summer Reads 39 ID Co-Director Mark Kimbrough Receives Graphic Design USA Award 39 Texas Architect May/June Issue Features CoAD Professor and Recent Alumna ALUMNI BULLETIN 70 Hines Alumni Win 2023 Houston PaperCity Design Awards 70 Hines Alumni Honored at the 9 th Annual Cougar 100 71 Melvalean McLemore Bestowed Ben Brewer Young Architect Award 71 AMB Architects Named AIA Houston's Firm of the Year 72 Alumni Spotlights XO HOUSE AND STUDIO SPOTLIGHT PHOTOS BY LEONID FURMANSKY 36 16 14
29 Research Profile:
Professor Awarded SOM Foundation
Prize 31
Professor Andrew

Dear Friends,

As students, faculty, or industry professionals, we all understand the power of a strong network and its ability to help advance our studies and careers. Ultimately, the people who surround us influence who we are as designers. We are fortunate to have such a dynamic Hines College community supporting our students, faculty, and alumni.

This spring, the Hines College hosted its largest career fair ever! A record-breaking 60 firms attended the expanded two-day event, and students submitted 1,847 applications for positions among the companies in attendance. The success of this year’s fair shows just how much our industry community believes in our students and their potential.

The Hines College has a growing alumni base dedicated to forming the next generation of architects and designers. This spring 2023 issue of DIMENSION focuses on our connection through design.

Our cover story showcases a collaboration of interior architecture professor and alumna Dijana Handanovic (M.Arch. ’ 15 , B.F.A. ’09) and Shop owner and alumnus Adam Spencer Cook (B.Arch. ’ 11, B.S. ’ 11, B.B.A. ’ 11) with Bosnian furniture designer and manufacturer Zanat. This issue also spotlights Joe Webb (B.Arch. ’ 71) and Michael Johnson (B.Arch ’67, B.S. ’67 ), alumni who have committed to supporting the College’s future in perpetuity through planned gifts. Finally, we highlight the experiences of alumnus Manh Tran (M.Arch. ’ 94 , B.Arch. ’ 91), a Vietnamese immigrant whose successful career with SHOPCO would not have been possible without his architectural education at the University of Houston.

Our students graduate, but their connection with the Hines College continues. Our alumni are invested in giving back to the community that helped launch and support their careers. I hope you find the inspiration to give back and stay involved in the College because we are all connected by design

Warm regards,


Through the collaborative effort of alumni Dijana Handanovic and Adam Cook, Zanat worked with interior architecture students on a wood carving workshop. Read about this connection on page 40



June 6, 2023

Mashburn Gallery at the UH Architecture Building

"Post-Natural Landscapes" by Preston A. Gaines, Hines College adjunct faculty member, acknowledges human influence on the environment is so extensive that "untouched" nature is no longer a reality. Instead, we must work within a post-natural context where landscapes have been transformed by human intervention and technological advancement, leading to a new form of nature that is no longer entirely natural. This exhibition examines the tension between the natural and the artificial and how our relationship with the environment is mediated by technology. The featured artworks explore how these postnatural landscapes challenge our understanding of nature and our role within it. The exhibition will run until July 2023


August 12, 2023

Houston Food Bank and UH Architecture Building

Kick off the new academic year as our Hines College community – incoming and current students, faculty, staff, and alumni come together for a day of service at the Houston Food Bank and a welcome back party at the Hines College. Participants will meet at the Houston Food Bank in the morning to volunteer and then gather at the Hines College for an afternoon celebration.


August 20, 2023

UH Architecture Building

Each year, the Hines College’s student organizations coordinate an annual Welcome Day for incoming students. The event gives new students an opportunity to learn from current students, tour the College’s facilities, and prepare for the start of their academic careers at the University of Houston.


September 13, 2023

UH Architecture Building Atrium + Theater

The University of Houston Architecture + Design Alumni Association hosts its annual meeting each year, welcoming alumni to come network with their fellow alumni, celebrate the work and accomplishments of the Association, and honor the year’s distinguished Alumni Awards winners. The event begins with a networking reception in the atrium, followed by a meeting and awards presentation in the theater.


November 13, 2023

UH Architecture Building Theater

The William F. Stern Endowed Visiting Professorship supports bringing visiting critics and lecturers to the Hines College to engage with students and expose them to prominent and innovative designers. Past Stern Visiting Professors, including Wendell Burnette Architects, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, Brooks + Scarpa, and MAIO, have worked closely with dedicated studios throughout the fall semester and present an annual lecture. This fall, the Hines College welcomes Alexander Roemer of ConstructLab as its Stern Visiting Professor.



Hines Design as Scholar/Scholar as Design (HdSd)

September 13, 2023

UH Architecture Building Mashburn Gallery


The Undergraduate Architecture program’s new “Hines Design as Scholar/Scholar as Design” initiative turns the spotlight to topic / advancedlevel studios focusing on exploring design topics and opening lines of speculative design, research, and exploration in the context of global evolution, where faculty and practitioners respond critically to the emerging challenges of the 21st century.

Each semester, a curated list of renowned faculty covers different areas of inquiry: the global to the local; the environmental crisis to new digital imaginaries; contemporary ecological realities to novel material practices; and the molecular to the territorial. Topics evolve and change each year in response to global and local dynamics and to architectural discourse. At this level, the studios collaborate with academic themes to develop prompts and coordinate mini-lecture series, discussions, and juries, creating an extraordinary accumulation of drawings, essays, and new premises for fresh architecture agendas.


“MESO-COSM: Between the Laboratory and the Planet” is a proposal for a multi-disciplinary research and design project, as well as a public exhibition. The research phase focuses on a comparative analysis of the architecture of mesocosms as tools for ecosystem experimentation and observation. A “mesocosm” is an experimental infrastructure scaled between the microcosm of the laboratory and the macrocosm of the “real world.” Mesocosm experiments seek to create replicable ecosystems – from forest streams to coastal prairies, to marine habitats – to study the long-term effects of climate change and other disturbances on ecological processes.

The exhibition phase produces speculative proposals for “teaching mesocosm” experiments, as a collaboration between the University of Houston Coastal Center (UHCC), Sam Houston State University Center for Biological Field Studies (CBFS), and Rice Architecture. Focusing on the relationship between architecture, climate change, and ecological stewardship, “MESO-COSM: Between the Laboratory and the Planet” joins a larger push, led by scholars around the world, to tackle the increasingly urgent issue of research, experimental methodologies, and pedagogy about climate change and its effect on the built and natural environment.


UH Architecture Building Theater

Adaptation implies a response to change. To adapt means to adjust, modify, and alter one's response to changes in its various forms: slow, radical, planetary, and local. Adaptation suggests acknowledging new ways, ideas, technologies, and mindsets reacting and responding to possible futures, messy pasts, and complex contexts. Adaptation also refers to switching genres and media to serve better communication or to reach new audiences. The processes of adaptation are often not as transparent as we would like them to be. They invite analyses, careful investigations, and debates on usefulness, functionality, reuse, ruin, and waste. Adaptation may sometimes mean finding ways to survive conditions that are not ideal and out of control, whereas adapting may mean recalibrating one's expectations to fit into new paradigms. As we confront inequities emerging from discrimination, gentrification, and climate change, among other global shifts, adaptation is everywhere. Our lecture series cuts across geographies and disciplines to look at crises and inflection points, changing extraction and expert cultures, mutating legal, regulatory, and mapping systems, preservation and surgical interventions, and innovative and interdisciplinary construction practices.

September 18

Giovanna Bassi Cendra

University of Houston

History, Theory, and Criticism

Emerging Fellow

October 23

Lola Ben Alon

Columbia University

Assistant Professor, Natural Materials Lab, Building Science + Technology Curriculum

November 6

Jason Long


Partner, New York Office

All dates are subject to change. Visit uh.edu/architecture for current details.


ABOVE: The College community took part in the Strategic Plan Open House #2 on March 9 to offer feedback on the plan progress and framework

Strategic Planning Update

IN AUGUST 2022, THE HINES COLLEGE EMBARKED ON A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS with the goal of engaging its entire college community –students, faculty, staff, and alumni – in envisioning the College’s future. Led by Gensler facilitators Jim Oswald and Maria Edmundson, the strategic planning process included:

• One two-day faculty advance/retreat

• Two open house events

• Three working group meetings

• Four team meetings for each working group topic team

• Five faculty strategy sessions

• Eight leadership team meetings

The new strategic plan will be unveiled in fall 2023. As the College challenges students to think creatively, critically, empathically, and knowledgeably to be reflective practitioners and design collaborators, the strategic plan includes strategies to support goals in the following areas:

• Curriculum + Programs

• Culture of Care + Wellbeing

• Environmental Responsibility

• Global Community Engagement

• Professional Preparation + Development

• Research


March 2, 2023 Proclaimed as Houston Climate Futures by Design Day


Bouw partnered to organize “The Role of Design in Imagining Long-term Futures (‘Futuring’)” event. It consisted of three parts, including the Black United Fund of Texas - Youth Environmental Summit; the "Futuring" panel; and a reception and presentation to state representative Jarvis Johnson.

The event also resulted in a proclamation proclaiming March 2, 2023 as Houston Climate Futures by Design Day from the mayor's office.

It acknowledged both the Hines College's and Harvard School of Design's works in environmental design and urban planning along with the Black United Fund of Texas and AECOM's support and involvement in the symposium. Congratulations to all! —Nicholas Nguyen

New On Board:

IA Interior Architects and Kitchell Contractors Executives

Industry leaders bring experience to Hines College

Leadership Council advisory group

THE GERALD D. HINES COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN CELEBRATES THE ADDITION OF TWO INDUSTRY LEADERS TO ITS Leadership Council. Established in 2013, the advisory group works with Dean Oliver to support and move forward the College’s strategic initiatives. Leadership Council members play an integral part in connecting industry and academia in order to best equip the College’s students with an education supporting their future professional careers.


Managing Director and Principal, IA Interior Architects – Houston Office

Atkinson is the Managing Director and Principal for IA Interior Architects' Houston studio. She brings over 23 years of experience playing a leading role in strategic planning, managing, designing, administering, and negotiating a wide variety of project types. Atkinson and her team are responsible for the design of millions of square feet of different space types that have impacted and improved thousands of lives in the Houston community and beyond. Atkinson builds successful internal and external coalitions along with a studio culture stressing accountability and continuous improvement with measurable results.

She is a licensed Interior Designer in the State of Texas, a member of IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter and NAIOP. The proud mother of two daughters, Atkinson enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and all things surrounding wellness.


Operations Manager – Texas Division, Kitchell Contractors, Inc.

Veteran industry leader Chris Kirch has worked through the ranks within his twenty-five-year construction tenure. Kirch started as a field laborer / intern while obtaining his degree from Northern Arizona University in Construction Management and progressively continued to grow his career. Spanning across four states, he has managed complex healthcare and higher education projects with Baylor Scott & White, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hermann Healthcare, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and the Texas State University System.

Kirch is an Executive Founding Board Member of the Lean Institute of Houston, a LEED-accredited building professional, and an executive board member with the American Heart Association as well as Vice President for Cyclist for a Cause, an organization benefiting MS research. He stays incredibly active in his free time as a husband to his wife Kristin and father of three children. —S.S.

TOP TO BOTTOM: A photo from the symposium on March 2; Dean Patricia Belton Oliver with Dalia Munenzon and the proclamation

New Travel Award Opens Worldview for Architecture and Design Students

Prominent Houston architect establishes Ziegler Travel Fellowship Award

SCOTT ZIEGLER, AIA, FOUNDER AND SENIOR PRINCIPAL OF Ziegler Cooper Architects, has established the Ziegler Travel Fellowship Award at the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design with a gift of $25,000. Motivated by personal experience and the success of a similar program at his firm, the new award seeks to enrich students’ cultural understanding of the world through international travel.


At a very young age, Ziegler spent six weeks traveling with his family throughout Europe. In Cologne, Germany, where his family lineage originated, Ziegler experienced quite a transformational moment.

During a visit to the Cologne Cathedral, the tour guide explained that cathedrals were the work of several hundred years. The people who began work on the Cologne Cathedral – the original masons and stone builders, the people with the vision for the monumental structure – knew they would never see it finished; however, they made it their lives’ work.


ABOVE: Ziegler believes travel and experiencing architecture of different places have a profound impact on creative output

OPPOSITE PAGE, LEFT TO RIGHT: Ziegler employees and Hines College alumni have been able to travel across the world thanks to opportunities provided by Ziegler

“It riveted me that people could be so inspired and leave such a legacy, even though they would only build part of it,” shared Ziegler.

His visit to the Cathedral sparked the beginning of his love of architecture. Later on in his career, Ziegler Cooper Architects would go on to design the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Downtown Houston, and Ziegler would even see his daughter married there in a full-circle moment.

As the child of two business-oriented parents, Ziegler graduated from high school and went on to study business administration at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He had not grown up with a strong arts presence in his life. During his last semester at Trinity, Ziegler enrolled in painting and music appreciation courses and discovered his artistic side. This experience opened his eyes to the possibility of a future in architecture.

Following his studies at Trinity, Ziegler pursued a new graduate architecture program just beginning at Rice University. The program brought together twelve students of varying backgrounds, each bringing experience in different disciplines, including business, English, divinity, economics, chemistry, and more.

“Sparks were flying. We were truly a diversified, multidisciplinary team. The professors had never heard conversations like the ones we brought to the class,” said Ziegler. “We were all older, more mature, and we had made the distinct decision to pursue architecture.”

When Ziegler graduated from Rice, he formed his firm Ziegler Cooper Architects in 1977. While his vision for the firm took time to develop, he found inspiration from Rice University’s rich history. In its mere beginnings, Rice’s first president, Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett, sought to create a school of higher education that had no limit and personified excellence.

“Inspirational architecture enriches people’s lives, uplifts the human spirit, and provides a constant vision of excellence,” shared Ziegler.


“Beauty personifies excellence. You do not have to speak the language of architecture to feel beauty.”

Ziegler impresses upon his firm’s staff that they should pursue beauty in everything they do. If the firm pursues beauty and succeeds, it will be a respectable practice.


Fueled by his experience as a child visiting Cologne, travel has played a significant part in Ziegler’s life as well as in the opportunities he provides others.

“I love to travel because it inspires me. Each trip becomes a tapestry, not only in my life but of what I have learned,” said Ziegler. “Many of my experiences abroad stick in my mind to ultimately become the inspiration for what I do.”

For many years, Ziegler has offered a travel fellowship award for employees at his firm, allowing them to travel anywhere in the world. When they return, employees share how their experience changed their

lives, thus inspiring others. After seeing the value of the Ziegler travel fellowship in his firm, he knew it was time to expand the opportunity to students studying architecture in higher education.

“I have always believed everyone needs to get a great education,” Ziegler said. “They need to travel the world and understand other people and cultures to see how we all fit together as a society.”

Ziegler turned to Peter Zweig, his good friend of over forty years and professor at the UH Hines College of Architecture and Design, for assistance in setting up the travel fellowship at the Hines College. Together, they worked to integrate the program into the College’s curriculum, where awardees will benefit from the travel fellowship and also receive course credit.

“The generous philanthropy of Scott Ziegler, AIA, establishes an annual international travel scholarship for two upper-level students to enrich their cultural understanding of people, architecture, and local food,”

said Zweig. “They will share these experiences with colleagues and the public and, in turn, inspire them to make our world a better place.”

Ziegler Cooper Architects hires many Hines College alumni, whom Ziegler has found exceptionally talented and passionate. He hopes that by establishing the Ziegler Travel Fellowship Award, students will have the chance to develop a worldview that will empower their professional careers and encourage themselves and others.

“From my travels, I have come to believe that, in large part, the great cities of the world – Rome, Paris, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Singapore – are all measured by the quality of their architecture,” shared Ziegler. “If they do not have good architecture, they are kind of a lost spirit, and the city never blossoms. Great cities had great leaders with great vision. In life, very few people have the opportunity to do great things. We are in a profession that values creativity. We are creators gifted with the blessing to do great things.” —S.S.

Hines College Dean Patricia Belton

Oliver Named

Among Houston's 50 Most Influential Women by Houston Woman Magazine

Since 2008, the magazine has accepted nominations and chosen the city's most influential women leaders. Houston Woman Magazine hosted an awards dinner on March 23 to honor the recipients. Dean Oliver was noted for her contributions in higher education, leadership, and expanding the Hines College's international programs.

In the special issue, she said, "I have always been attracted to design because there is no 'right' answer. Perfection is unattainable. As educators, we never stop asking the questions, evens as the 'answers' remain elusive." —N.N.

DESIGN FUTURE GERALD HINES COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN 2020-2022 REPORT FOR THE A NEW ERA OF DESIGN COVER STORY A Conversation About and Design Education INNOVATION Student Successes Faculty Honors IMPACT Making Difference in Our Communities INSPIRATION Alumni Spotlights …and more!
Cheers to our Marketing, Communications, and External Relations team — Stephen Schad, Nicholas Nguyen, Symone Daniels, and Dianca Chase — on winning a Silver Award for the 2022 Annual Report from the Collegiate Advertising Awards along with a Gold Award for the inaugural Fall 2022 issue of DIMENSION magazine and a Merit Award for social media from the EduAdAwards.

Career Fair by the Numbers

This February, hundreds of Hines College students put their best foot forward at another record-breaking Career Fair! For the first time, the fair spanned two days giving CoAD students opportunities to connect with the highest number of firms ever. See how it all breaks down here:

60 1,847

90 170+ firms attended applications submitted by students jobs posted on Cougar Pathway students attended networking reception


Five Years and Counting: Hines Student Tops Bienenstock Furniture Competition

"Siva Afi" chair design garners first-place recognition for its unique form and feasible design

UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON GERALD D. HINES COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN STUDENTS have struck gold again at the annual Bienenstock Furniture and Interior Design Competition. Industrial design (ID) student Mariana Anzures received first place in this year's furniture design category for her chair Siva Afi. Hosted by the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library, the major competition highlights Bienenstock's commitment to education and the furniture industry.

Anzures named her project Siva Afi after a traditional fire dance from the Samoan Islands. Her chair design tells a story about the raw beauty of nature through its exploration of form and movement.

"I was deeply inspired by the shapes dancers make with their bodies and the movement of a flame dancing in the wind," shared Anzures.

Hoping to create a seamless transition while maintaining a strong structure, Anzures molded the main piece of the chair from three separate parts. Through prototyping, she discovered how to make all three pieces using the same mold, allowing for more feasible and efficient manufacturing. The experience taught Anzures much about material capabilities, manufacturing processes, and the possibility of design.

Anzures is honored to join the ranks of Hines College industrial design students to have achieved success in the annual Bienenstock Furniture and Interior Design Competition before her. 2023 is the fifth year UH students have ranked at the competition's top.

"We are one of the few industrial design programs requiring students to build their designs," explained Anzures. "I am always impressed by the work UH students produce for this competition every year."

Anzures believes that the ID program has pushed her and many other talented students to accomplish extraordinary work, making her proud to contribute to

the program's legacy. She credits her studio professors, Min Kang and Jeff Feng, for their mentorship during the project and impressing upon her the importance of telling a story through her final submission.

Feng is proud of Anzures and other students' inspiring achievements and their driven spirit of pursuing excellence in design. He understands the accomplishments made by the students are a testament to their experience in the program.

"The continuous success in the Bienenstock Furniture Design Competition demonstrates the program's national competitiveness and the creative potential residing in every student," said Feng. "It manifests a unique and effective innovation framework forged in this design studio."

In September 2023, Anzures will travel to New York for the Bienenstock Future Designers Summit. She looks forward to visiting other creatives and learning from industry professionals across the country. —Symone Daniels

PHOTO BY EMMELIA WARD THIS PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM: Anzures works on building a prototype of the chair OPPOSITE PAGE: Renderings of the Siva Afi, inspired by fire dance

Hines College Architecture

Students Win AIA Fort Worth Merit Awards

Projects highlight creative and communitycentered approaches

THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS (AIA) FORT WORTH Chapter honored University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design students Triciajane Asuncion, Yasmeen Saab, and Kim Saotonglang this past Saturday, February 25th, as part of their annual 2023 Excellence in Architecture Student Design Awards, recognizing exceptional student work from students across the state of Texas. UH students were awarded for Pe-Tree (Asuncion and Saab) and ASCENSION (Saotonglang).

Saotonglang's project ASCENSION is set in a post-apocalyptic underground dwelling. Due to years of living in darkness, its society became blind and reverted to primitive ways of life. Although their circumstance seems hopeless, a deaf boy and a muted girl find each other through light and decide to ascend from darkness together.

"The architecture is based on how these blind dwellers inhabit the underground colony and our main character's journey," said Saotonglang.

The creation process began as Saotonglang constructed a storyline to set the tone for her architectural graphics. She credits filmmaker Tim Burton and graphic artist M.C. Escher as inspiration for the darker storyline of ASCENSION. Saotonglang searched for graphic precedents, choosing primary stylistic references – one for aesthetics and the other for drawing techniques.

"After studying the works of Burton and Escher, I combined the styles of the two artists to create the aesthetic tailored only to my project," said Saotonglang.

THIS PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM: Images from Saotonglang's

OPPOSITE PAGE: Images from

Although the development process of ASCENSION did not pose a challenge to Saotonglang, she did find it difficult to manage her time. As a student, she was balancing time between studio and thesis preparation courses during the semester. Still, she decided to have fun with the project, alleviating some of her pressure.

ASCENSION project Asuncion's and Saab's Pe-Tree project

Saotonglang hopes that when people view ASCENSION, they will enjoy the story it tells, the fun philosophical questions it asks, and all the experimental illustrations.

In addition to Saotonglang’s project, Pe-Tree, designed by Triciajane Asuncion and Yasmeen Saab, also received recognition with a Student Merit Award. Pe-Tree grew from the need for a more resilient infrastructure in the predominantly Black and brown Third Ward community. Houston has experienced three 500-year floods in the past six years, which hits these vulnerable communities the hardest. Constructed from natural and recycled materials, Pe-Tree establishes a net-zero spatial, agricultural, and infrastructural network.

“The holistic urban ecological infrastructure system mitigates the community’s challenges, which

include repeated flooding and periodic droughts, lack of nearby nutritious food sources, limited transportation options, and access to open green spaces,” explained Asuncion.

Given the site of MacGregor Park, the pair drew inspiration from nature and the efficient formations of bacterial growth on a petri dish.

"We positioned social/recreational spaces, water storage systems, and community gardens, framed by a series of yellow walkable and bikeable loops at various scales, to connect pedestrians to the site's amenities," shared Saab.

Asuncion and Saab attributed their ability to work together successfully to bringing their different strengths while sharing a common interest. Saab specializes in fabrication and material research, while Asuncion specializes in

graphic visualization, material, and technical research.

In addition to designing a building, the pair designed multiple park amenities, including an amphitheater, a volleyball court, playgrounds, and a community garden.

One challenge Asuncion and Saab faced was determining how to link amenities together and build them coherently. During the design phase, they utilized physical models for the design iterations to determine the most efficient and engaging paths between the amenities.

Both Asuncion and Saab are proud of the work they have produced benefiting the Third Ward Community. They also hope their work inspires students and upcoming designers to have the courage to experiment and constantly develop their ideas, helping them blossom over time. —S.D.


Architecture Students to Showcase Designs at International Exhibition

Project debuts sustainable and adaptable architectural system at WantedDesign Manhattan's Launch Pad

THIS MONTH, UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON GERALD D. HINES COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN students Yasmeen Saab and Kieran Renfrow will exhibit Substrate in New York at WantedDesign Manhattan’s Launch Pad exhibition, opening alongside the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Sponsored by American Standard and presented by Design Milk and Clever Podcast, Launch Pad offers an international platform for emerging designers and studios to showcase their work and network with manufacturers who can help them fabricate their projects.

Yasmeen Saab heard about the opportunity from Angel Malave, a coworker who had previously participated in 2022. Malave saw Substrate, a project Saab had developed with close friend and fellow student

Kieran Renfrow, and encouraged the pair to apply for Launch Pad. Saab and Renfrow now stand among 60 international designers selected to display their concepts in the competitive, juried exhibition.


In building Substrate, Saab and Renfrow learned to follow their intuition and allow themselves to start over instead of fixating on initial ideas.

“We put tremendous love, thought, and creative expression into this project,” said Renfrow. “As best friends, we created a body of work together that was very personal and explorative for us both.”

Not only did they share interests in design, material research, and sustainability, but they also wanted to create something significant for different cultures and communities. Saab and Renfrow identified a need for sustainable and simple design solutions by creating multiple programs based on different sites.

Substrate proposes a low-cost, sustainable, and adaptable architectural system providing resources, furniture, shelter, and programs in communities lacking those supplies. Saab and Renfrow's project design tenets included: ease of transportation, multi-functionality, accessibility, sustainability, and the system had to be at least 60 % biodegradable.


The pair experimented with paper folding and interpreted those as panels, then explored different systems of wood joinery to make the built structure, a process accomplished in six weeks. “The project was challenging because of all the techniques we learned firsthand in real-time while also experimenting and researching the structural system and the communities,” said Saab.


To conceptually test the adaptability of their work, Saab and Renfrow chose three cities to imagine Substrate: Tokyo, Baghdad, and Makoko.

“The sites and people were very personal in many aspects,” shared Renfrow. “They were intentionally chosen to bring to light people of color as the main concern in design, catering to their unique experiences and needs in a Eurocentric world.”

“Being from Baghdad, Iraq, I was always surrounded by simple architectural systems usually made from natural, upcycled materials, and local resources – all highly multifunctional,” said Saab. “Substrate ’s simplicity allowed us to create a very innovative system, yet accessible and realistic in many different conditions.”

Diversity and inclusion were always a central focus through the design of various panel types for Substrate

They wanted to ensure the panels could provide privacy for salat, the Muslim daily ritual prayer, and provide cooling in the arid and hot climate of the region.

“Makoko is a slum in Lagos, Nigeria, completely atop of water on piloti, and Tokyo is an extremely overpopulated highly-developed city,” Renfrow explained. “Our design brings discrete elements derived from a single component, transforming the system into unique and specialized products engaging with its environment and users.”

Despite each city’s differences, Renfrow and Saab discovered commonalities, including pollution levels, the need for plant life, and programs capable of adapting to each specific environment and community. The panels serve as both furniture and “informers of space,” forming booths for markets, areas to hang plants, and providing shelter.

“We hope the project sheds light on the importance of culture, diversity, and inclusion, as well as a call to attention on the benefit of sustainability and thinking outside of the box,” added Renfrow. “Our differences can often bring us together, and acknowledging and honoring those distinctions is something to be celebrated.” —Nicholas

LEFT TO RIGHT: The pair installed Substrate in the Katherine G. McGovern College of Arts courtyard
“We hope the project sheds light on the importance of culture, diversity, and inclusion, as well as a call to attention on the benefit of sustainability and thinking outside of the box. Our differences can often bring us together, and acknowledging and honoring those distinctions is something to be celebrated.”

The Perfect Fits

Industrial design students win FIT Sport Design Awards with innovative equipment and apparel designs

THIS SPRING, THE 2023 FIT SPORT DESIGN AWARDS HONORED SIX INDUSTRIAL DESIGN STUDENT winners from the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design. The annual competition recognizes exceptional designs across the world that demonstrate solutions for enhanced sports performance and sustainability.

Congratulations to Akanksha Bhatia, Diego Romero, Emily Sonnier, Luis Valdes, Toluwalase Adedipe, and Estelle Lee, who developed their projects in the INDS 4500 studio, led by assistant professor of industrial design Elham Morshedzadeh, Ph.D.

“As their professor, I was impressed by the level of commitment demonstrated by my senior students during this project,” shared Morshedzadeh. “Their task was no small feat — to generate novel and practical concepts addressing significant social and environmental challenges. It was a true test of their educational experience, drawing on both their technical skills and ability to think critically and creatively.”



Winner in Sport Equipment Design – Sailing & Surfing

What inspired this project?

AKANKSHA BHATIA: I have always enjoyed outdoor activities casually. Every time on vacation when my family passes by a pretty lake, all I can think of is, “I wish I could sail on it.” As we moved closer to a lake this past summer, my family bought a couple inflatable kayaks to take out onto the water. I thought, “Why not a portable sailboat?” and that is where it all started.

What was your design process?

AB: First, I did in-depth research on existing portable sailboats and kayaks. I looked at material, ease of use, longevity, and weight. From there, I started designing following my inspiration of a folded paper airplane. After much testing, I solidified my concept of the main hull and added the sails and other details through other inspirations, such as tent poles. Finding inspiration in things that were not sailboats really helped me work out the kinks in my design.

How do you feel about winning?

AB: This was a fun project for me, and on top of that, it was the first design competition I won. The win gives motivates me to design more for the years to come. Most importantly, it confirmed that hard work and enjoying what you do pays off. After celebrating, it is time to put my head down and continue working hard and working with joy.


Winner in Sport Equipment Design – Parasports


A single-person sailboat prioritizing portability and sustainability. The design is focused on sailors who enjoy traveling and has limited space for storage. Nautis breaks down the sailboat to its most fundamental parts and allows for easy set-up and disassembly thanks to its lightweight design.


Blackout goggles with haptic and audio feedback for visually-impaired para-athletes competing in track competitions in the T 11 category, filling a need for a product that does not currently exist.

What inspired this project?

DIEGO ROMERO: My project was inspired by the awe I experienced when I watched videos of visuallyimpaired runners performing at the highest level. Seeing them run as fast and asaccurately as they do — all while blindfolded — immediately reminded me of superheroes. I wanted these athletes to feel like superheroes.


What was your design process?

DR: After locking down the main premise of my project, I wanted to meet with myusers and get some insight into what they thought about the concept and innovation. During my ideation phase, I met with TEAM CATAPULT, a Houston runningorganization for visually impaired runners, to talk to them about myproject. Their approval and feedback went directly into the final product of STRIDE SIGHT.

How do you feel about winning?

DR: Besides being proud of the project itself, it is cool to see parasports and parasportsdesigns getting the recognition and praise it deserves. Hopefully, that trend continuesto grow in all aspects of design.


Winner in Sport Equipment Design – Urban Sports

How do you feel about winning?

ES: I have found in design school when you are surrounded by so many talented creatives, you can get in your head about your personal ability. This victory gave me the confidence boost to know I am ready to land a great job after graduation!


Winner in Sport Equipment Design – Racket Sports


A stylish design addressing the need for an adaptable bag for urban life and daily commute by walking, cycling, and public transit. The bag is suitable for social events, work, and fitness.

What inspired this project?

EMILY SONNIER: I was inspired after finding myself constantly changing bags while working last summer. Once, I forgot my wallet changing from my work bag to my handbag, and I knew there was a big potential to improve the experience. I also observed my coworkers carrying many bags at once, mainly work and gym bags. I was also inspired by Copenhagen, my favorite city, where biking is the most used method of transportation.

What was your design process?

ES: My process was included indepth research on what was available on the current market. While there was no shortage of modular bags, they were all for camping or military use — not exactly for the average, stylish working woman. I wanted to create a mid-tier luxury bag system, so I investigated many upcoming trends in the luxury bag industry. The most challenging part of the process was learning how to sew and create a custom pattern.


A tennis ball launcher with a collapsible spiral chute and removable backpack component to transport the device. The backpack can store other tennis equipment, and the device features a lights system to help players practice timing and footwork.

What inspired this project?

LUIS VALDES: This project was inspired by looking at a previous tennis serving machine and thinking about how the chute for the balls could be collapsed. I thought it would be an elegant way to introduce a new material into a design mostly made of plastic. Its compactness could make it even more convenient for the target users: beginners and tennis teachers.

What was your design process?

LV: The process began with lots of initial sketches and experimentation with different forms for the chute. It was not until I stumbled upon a collapsible AC pipe that I decided this was the direction I wanted to take.

How do you feel about winning?

LV: I suppose winning means I took an approach beating out others, but it probably helped that I found a niche area of sports equipment. I also had a village of people backing me up, but it also was a lot of hard work.



Honorable Mention in Sports Equipment Design

women and femmes feel safer while doing the activities they loved.

What was your design process?

EL: I was inspired by the daily routine of a woman living in the city, including commuting, exercising outdoors, and exposure to different challenges. I ideated by sketching different forms and testing out different designs on different ear types. The headphones are adjustable through heating, like how eyeglasses are adjusted to fit a wider range of ear shapes. Finally, I developed the app to go alongside the wireless earbuds allowing the user to be a couple of taps away from starting location tracking or contacting emergency contact(s).

How do you feel about winning?


A cycling helmet designed for users with high volume or textured hair, focused on accessibility, with an opening to preserve hairstyles and self-cooling with cooling pads.

What inspired this project?

TOLUWALASE ADIPE: As someone with a lot of hair and whose texture is 4 c, I find it very annoying to wear caps and helmets. I always come out of it with my hair just looking abysmal. I wanted to help people who share my struggles to stay safe while accommodating the issues they might face having a lot of hair.

What was your design process?

TA: I started by studying helmets on the market first, and then I began to ideate on how I could have a system that would not compromise safety but also give the allowance needed for the hair. I decided to look towards organic and futuristic architecture to inform the aesthetic look of the helmet. The culmination of the two gave birth to Brisk.

How do you feel about winning?

TA: Winning means a lot to me. Having a group of jurors see my design and decide it was worthy to be on their website was a hugely validating moment for me. It gave me confidence to believe in my senses as a designer and allowed me to follow my passion even more.


Honorable Mention in Sports Equipment Design


Open-ear wireless earbuds for commuting and exercising outdoors with safety at the forefront. The earbuds feature open ear listening for content consumption while staying connected to surroundings as well as features for emergency contact and location tracking.

What inspired this project?

ESTELLE LEE: In my personal experience running and exercising outdoors in general, I always had fear while doing those activities and felt on edge. Through research and conversations with other women, I realized they experienced the same thing. I wanted to design to make

EL: With this project, I experienced a lot of ups and downs throughout the process and was even discouraged at some points. Winning is overcoming those struggles and challenges to create a beautiful and functional design. It is an honor to be recognized for the hard work I put into this project. —N.N.


Student Organizations You Should Know: Black Students in Design (BSID)

Opening opportunities for Black students through new UHNOMAS subcommittee

HISTORICALLY, THE ARCHITECTURE FIELD HAS BEEN A WHITE MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY. ALTHOUGH A SMALL AMOUNT OF PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE, REPORTS SHOW ONLY 2.3% OF ARCHITECTS ARE BLACK. In honor of Black History Month, the Hines College kicks off its student organization profile series highlighting Black Students in Design (BSID), a subcommittee of the UH chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (UHNOMAS). Staff writer Symone Daniels recently spoke with co-founder Marina McCree about the organization’s dedication to supporting and making a difference for the Black student body at the College.

SYMONE DANIELS: When and why was BSID founded/created?

MARINA MCCREE: BSID was created by three fifth-year architecture students, one senior interior student, and two sophomore architecture students. The seniors wanted an organization specifically supporting and engaging the Black student body. Davone Morgan and I met with Miya Simmons and Esther Olukosi, who had expressed interest in helping us manifest this group, and started to set the foundation for making this a reality. We reached out to UHNOMAS and suggested a subcommittee called Black Students in Design. The new subcommittee would focus specifically on supporting and uplifting the Black student body by exposing them to the merits of Black designers and providing opportunities to connect with professionals outside the College.

SD: What is BSID’s mission?

MM: It was important for us to create a network and give confidence to our peers, ensuring they know they are not alone in their experiences as Black students. Through BSID, I met a Black female architect for the first time in my life, and at that moment, I realized how little representation there is in our College and curriculum and also in the field. BSID was a necessary addition to our College. We hope it perseveres forward and continues furthering its reach to make a difference in our under-represented peers' educational and professional experience.

SD: What is your understanding of Black minorities in architecture?

MM: From my understanding, Black presence in architecture is sparse within firms, particularly licensed Black professionals. I see many roadblocks in the field, including the

path to licensure, networking, funds, diversity in the curriculum, and work culture within firms. Growing up, I noticed a severe lack of investment in Black communities, so I could not imagine the experiences of Black professionals before me.

SD: How do you bring awareness to BSID on campus?

MM: Like any other group, we bring awareness via our Instagram and posters. However, an essential aspect of spreading information as a new student organization presence is directly reaching out to others and letting them know what we are doing. There is no better way to get someone involved than inviting them now and letting them know you see them.

SD: What is your perspective as a Black woman in architecture?

MM: As a Black woman in architecture, I constantly feel I am on the outside looking in. Sometimes I doubt my abilities, creativity, and resolve because it is hard to visualize myself in a field with little representation or cultural diversity. Thankfully, I have encountered many encouraging and diligent professionals, classmates, and professors passionate about uplifting minority students.

SD: How does BSID help prepare Black students to enter a primarily all-white space?

MM: We have primarily started hosting panel conversations with Black professionals who can share their experiences and tips.

SD: Why should people join BSID?

MM: People should join BSID to have a community of classmates interested in seeking out opportunities within Houston and building on the initiatives taken

by Black designers before us — getting involved in NOMA Houston, attending events in the Third Ward, learning about career paths branding off from architecture, etc.

SD: How do you empower your members?

MM: We empower our members by creating a community of equally driven Black professionals and showing we support and relate to them. We focus on exposure and professional development.

SD: What advice would you give students considering joining BSID?

MM: I recommend pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and being honest about your aspirations in this field. Networking is everything. Find what sparks your interest and dive into it. Find people who work in your areas of interest and put yourself out there. —S.D.

TOP TO BOTTOM: BSID Co-Founder Marina McCree; Student org activities include firm tours and professional development workshops

Student Organizations You Should Know:

Future Women in Architecture (FWIA)

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY CELEBRATES HOW FAR WOMEN HAVE COME IN THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC EQUALITY AGAINST ISSUES THAT HAVE PLAGUED WOMEN DUE TO GENDER DISCRIMINATION. In architecture, women comprise only 23 3 % of the workforce compared to the 76 6% of men who dominate the industry. In honor of International Women’s Day, staff writer Symone Daniels (SD) spoke with Future Women in Architecture (FWIA) committee chair Ashton Ezell (AE) and vice chair of administration Emmelia Ward (EW) about the organization's passion for creating a space empowering and amplifying women's voices as they prepare to enter a male-dominated industry.

SD: When and why was FWIA founded/created?

EW: FWIA was founded in the summer of 2018 by women in the College who wanted to create a space for fellow students to feel uplifted and connected to opportunities. The organization had a small start but has grown exponentially with each year. Watching the organization become one of our community's most prominent student organizations has been amazing. During the pandemic, our drawing competitions helped us expand our network. Since being back in person, we have hosted incredible events and welcomed hundreds of participants.

SD: What is the FWIA’s mission?

AE: FWIA is a student-led organization empowering students in architecture and design programs through self-growth, networking, education, and community. We are a supporting voice for Hines College students. We host various social and professional events aiming to enable all students differently. We work to provide everyone with opportunities to succeed, advance their skills and knowledge, and form meaningful connections.

SD: How do you bring awareness to FWIA on campus?

EW: We actively use our Instagram (@future.wia) to promote events and meetings! We organize events open to and beneficial for all students. We

hosted our second Annual Supply Drive this academic year, giving first and second-year students free materials in August. Events like these are a way for us to help support our fellow students. They also help us introduce our organization to other students. We have coordinated events in the College's atrium, including organization fairs and group yoga! We promote our events on College social media and have stickers and shirts around the Hines College.

SD: What is your perspective as a woman in architecture and design?

EW: There needs to be more women in the field! FWIA gives women a space for their voice and helps them grow that voice in the real professional world. It is extremely valuable to have representation and diversity within architecture and design. We advocate for opportunities and showcase amazing stories from women within the field. Having more women and diversity within architecture can help uplift those in need who are currently underrepresented.

SD: How does FWIA help prepare women for a male-dominated industry?

AE: We have many events that help prepare women, including mock interviews, portfolio reviews, discussions with professionals, and firm tours. We have a fantastic faculty advisor, Donna Kacmar, who helps us connect with women in the industry and meet with them. It

is incredible to hear from women who own firms and work in the profession to gain insight from their experience. We advocate for our members within the College while also educating students on the world of architecture outside of school. We are a leading voice for women in this field and the College.

SD: Why should people join FWIA?

AE: Anyone can join, and they should because of all the opportunities we share with our members. We are constantly working with design professionals or professors in Houston to build connections and help build our network. This is very helpful for any architecture student. We also praise fellow students and help showcase their work by holding drawing competitions shared by the College. Students enjoy this event, and we proudly show all the beautiful work on our Instagram feed each semester.

SD: Can men join?

AE: Of course! We are open to everyone. We have even had men as officers, but currently, all positions are held by women.

SD: How does FWIA empower members?

AE: We have a fantastic mentorship program helping both the mentees and the mentors. Our studio mentorship program automatically connects every first- or second-year studio student to an upper-class

FWIA member. One to two upperclass students are paired to each studio and visit to provide feedback and help with questions. Any students who are interested in more one-on-one feedback can become a member and join our one-on-one members-only mentorship program. These students will then be paired with their mentors. On top of these programs, we host many events working to empower students, and students who become members often receive free access to events and disconnect merch prices.

SD: What advice would you give students considering joining FWIA?

EW: Follow us on Instagram and fill out the membership form in our bio! This form includes your $5 membership fee, gives you access to our members-only Microsoft Teams channel, and adds you to our email list. This way, you will know about all our events and opportunities. If you are still considering becoming a member, do not worry. Many of our events are open to all students. Just follow us to see what is coming up next. —S.D.

Empowering women's voices and building a diverse network with industry
TOP TO BOTTOM: FWIA Member Estefania De Anda and Sofia Sierra, FWIA Mentorship Program CoCoordinator; FWIA Committee Chair Ashton Ezell

Student Organizations You Should Know: Student Industrial Design Society of America (SIDSA)

Creating a community and paving the way for future designers

IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE THAT THE GERALD D. HINES COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN OPERATES ONE OF THE TOP-RANKED INDUSTRIAL DESIGN (ID) PROGRAMS IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE world. Inspired by the human experience, the program develops product designs ranging from household items to transportation vehicles focused on improving our everyday lives.

The ID program is different from the College's other disciplines. While many Hines College student organizations support all students' experiences, the Student Industrial Design Society of America (SIDSA) is dedicated to helping ID students, organizing professional development opportunities, conferences, and exhibitions. Hines College writer Symone Daniels recently spoke with Marina Latto, current SIDSA co-president, to learn more about the organization.

SYMONE DANIELS: When was the SIDSA founded?

MARINA LATTO: SIDSA was founded at UH in the fall of 2005 At our founding, we were the first and only student branch of the national professional organization IDSA in Texas. Since then, only the University of Texas at Austin has started another student branch. SIDSA remains the only industrial design student organization at Hines College and serves as a social and professional hub for the industrial design program.

SD: What is the organization's mission?

ML: SIDSA's core values are community, development, and networking. Our preeminent mission is supporting upcoming designers in Houston.

SD: How does SIDSA bring awareness to the organization?

ML: Our most prominent method of communication is through our

Instagram (@idxuh), run by our outstanding social media director Akanksha Bhatia. We also print physical graphics to post on campus, send email blasts, and encourage our officers to attend college-wide events (Welcome Day, student organization fairs, etc.) to spread the word.

SD: How is industrial design evolving with today's society?

ML: Industrial design continues to evolve rapidly in just about every way. Generally, industrial design merges the digital and physical space, whereas these two disciplines were distinct specialties prior. Studying something that, even as students, we could set field-wide standards throughout our careers is exhilarating.

SD: Why should people join SIDSA?

ML: Anyone interested in joining a design-oriented community should join our organization. Regardless of skill level or special interests, we try to give our members the tools

they need to thrive. While SIDSA primarily serves as a professional development organization, we host many community-building social activities to build camaraderie and offer stress-relieving outlets.

SD: How does the organization empower its members?

ML: As officers, our most incredible tool is communication. We actively get feedback from our members through surveys and one-on-one/ group conversations to determine their needs. These conversations allow us to understand our constituents' thoughts about our events and voice their current struggles or interests. Using that feedback, we can plan our events to further empower our members with anything they need.

SD: What advice would you give students considering joining SIDSA?

ML: I would advise anyone considering joining our organization to stop by a general meeting! We host these on the first Wednesday of every month to recap recent events and make any announcements. Members usually stick around after the meeting to play games or socialize with their classmates, creating a great time to chat with other people about their experiences and get a feel for what our SIDSA is all about. You could also email us at industrialdesignuh@gmail.com or message us on Instagram (@idxuh) if you have any questions. We are always happy to help. —S.D.

TOP TO BOTTOM: SIDSA Co-President Marina Latto; SIDSA hosts the annual IDESIGN conference

FWIA Midterm Drawing Competition Winners

Future Women in Architecture hosts a midterm drawing competition each semester with cash prizes for students across three levels of studio categories.

1500 CATEGORY: The Hive by Meghana Kankaria from Ami Mehta's 1501 studio

"'The Hive' refers to both the beehive and a place where people are busily occupied. The idea behind the stairs was to make something that fits in with the design of the atrium and the diamond pattern on the floor," Meghana explains. "With a set of 24 stairs, the whole project is divided into 8 levels, which goes up to the third floor of the building."

"The project has a massive 18-foot honeycomb structure right in the center, showcasing various books from the library. Surrounding that is a 675 sq. foot platform, which can be used as a viewing deck for the various events held in the atrium. Right below the third floor landing, there are walls that showcase art from the gallery. Apart from this, there are multiple spaces on various levels to work and hangout. The project gives visitors a visual tour of the CoAD from different perspectives, while highlighting the library and the gallery at the back."

2501+3501 CATEGORY: Book Station Phostel by Luis F. Montenegro from Ross Wienert's 3501 studio

"This project aims to connect the Library, Train station, and Hostel towards POST Houston by including a

Garden gravel plaza by substituting the parking lot under Interstate 45 highway," Luis says. "The Library is located on the west side, Train station under the highway, and Hostel nearby to POST Houston."

5500+GRAD CATEGORY: Cuesta House by Joshua Carter from Elena Perez's 5500 studio

n describing the house, Joshua says, "A passively cooled oasis etched into the hillside along the Rio Grande, the Cuesta House is a place to disconnect and recharge. Bifurcated by a continuous greenway that splits the guest suite from the private residence, both programs are unified beneath a semi-private dining area that can be absorbed into either program through two sliding doors that recess into the ground."

He adds, "Guided by the slope of the greenway, inhabitants are drawn downward towards the Sierre Madre mountains and brought into an enclosed garden. A series of shingle-like windows allow heat to escape the structure while allowing cool breezes to enter from the pool and river. Cooled through its corridors, no doors separate the individual rooms. Masses defined by the staggered floor heights dictate the program of the rooms within each residence while offering moments of seclusion."

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: A model of The Hive; a rendering of Cuesta House; and a rendering of Book Station Phostel

2023 Super Jury and Graduation Awards

Students earned honors during commencement for excellence in academics, design, and leadership


Raffaella Montelli • AIA Academic Excellence Award

Kim Saotonglang • AIA Excellence Award


Suochun Fang • Graduate Industrial Design

Sarah Wong • Undergraduate Industrial Design

Gina Biscardi • Undergraduate Interior Architecture


Felipe Pérez Villarreal • Graduate Design Award

Raffaella Montelli • Graduate Design Award

Brent Montero • Graduate Design Award

Priscilla Clavel • Best Master Project of the Year


Michael Ibay • Undergraduate Design Award-Honorable Mention

Omar Vasquez • Undergraduate Design Award-Honorable Mention

Trang Ly • Undergraduate Design Award-Honorable Mention

Edgar Castillo • Undergraduate Design Award-Honorable Mention

Ashton Ezell • Undergraduate Design Award-Runner Up for Resolution

Claudia Orellana • Undergraduate Design Award-Runner Up for Resolution

Ba Reum Son • Undergraduate Design Award-Runner Up for Resolution

Juan Barron • Undergraduate Design Award-Runner Up for Innovation

Vivian Dao • Undergraduate Design Award-Runner Up for Innovation

Mary Garcia-Aguilera • Undergraduate Design Award-Runner Up for Concept

Adrian Cardenas • Undergraduate Design Award-First Place


Triciajane Asuncion • Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis Award

Andrew Medina • Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis Award


Haleigh Esene • IDSA Houston Chapter Undergraduate Student Merit Award

Josh Lu • ID Design Award-Honorable Mention

Andreina Pereira • ID Design Award-Honorable Mention

Sarah Wong • Best Senior Project Award


Amatullah Gulamhusein • Outstanding Design Award for Interior Architecture


Tarek Moubayed • Nia Becnel Leadership Award

Mary Garcia-Aguilera • Myron C. Anderson Leadership Award

Kadmiel Konan • Alpha Rho Chi Award Leadership Award

Raffaella Montelli • Architectural Research Centers Consortium Award

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Dean Patricia Belton Oliver presents awards to Haleigh Esene; Tarek Moubayed; Andreina Pereira; and Kadmiel Konan

Hines Architecture Historian Awarded Graham Foundation Research Grant

Deepa Ramaswamy excavates the legacies of colonial territorial expansionism in Mumbai

THE GRAHAM FOUNDATION FOR ADVANCED STUDIES IN THE FINE Arts announced today that University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design assistant professor Deepa Ramaswamy is a recipient of its 2023 grant for Research and Development. Since 1956, the foundation has funded projects seeking to challenge the study of architecture and its place among the arts, culture, and society.

Ramaswamy, a professor of the history of architecture and urbanism, was awarded the grant for her proposal, Reclaimed Lands: The Ecological Legacies of Colonial Bombay's Coasts. Graham Foundation grants are highly competitive, especially for research among individual applicants. Ramaswamy was selected among over 500 applicants from across the world this year, bringing to the forefront the exceptional architectural research taking place at the University of Houston.

The project is a book-length research excavating the long histories of Mumbai coasts, drawing on the intersecting and enduring relationships between land, infrastructure, risk, and the slow violence of climate change. While Mumbai's endangered coasts are the current sites of ongoing climate disasters, they are also the artifacts of prolonged land reclamations into the sea as part of colonial projects of landscape transformations beginning in the seventeenth century. By studying the histories of Mumbai's coasts through historical, visual, and archival frameworks, Ramaswamy’s research

participates in the ongoing recognition of coasts as discrete landforms neeing space within urban, architectural, landscape, environmental, and climate change histories.

“Coasts and coastal environments have complicated colonial, imperial, and neoliberal histories. They bear the brunt of the effects of climate change, which are slow acting with mild and severe impacts that sometimes traverse across generations and centuries,” shared Ramaswamy. “Climate change is not only about contemporary and immediate effects. Mumbai's coasts reveal the histories and legacies of damage, extraction, and the often invisible technopolitical terrain of actors, regimes, practices, and materialities collectively organizing space, movement, labor, and commodities.”

Ramaswamy's research brings attention back to the localness of the effects and lived experiences of colonial landscape transformation projects that had long-standing impacts on Mumbai's urban environment, which still remain predicated on creating land from the sea.

“I grew up in Mumbai and have experienced the effects of unregulated reclamation and urban developments in the city in the form of intense flooding events, beach erosions, and population displacement,” said Ramaswamy.

“My research will culminate in a book that I hope will add new perspectives to the history of Mumbai by centering on its coasts, coastal environments, and their evolving histories cutting across time and place.”

Earlier this year, Ramaswamy received a University of Houston New Faculty Research Award for another part of this extensive project on Mumbai's coasts (read more at right).

This year's award is not the first time a Hines College professor has received a Graham Foundation grant. Sheryl Tucker de Vazquez, interim director of interior architecture, received a grant award from the foundation in 2021 for her proposal, Hair Salon: Black Hair as Architecture. The exhibition opened at the College in February this year. —Stephen Schad

"My research will culminate in a book that I hope will add new perspectives to the history of Mumbai by centering on its coasts, coastal environments, and their evolving histories cutting across time and place.”
ABOVE: Deepa Ramaswamy's research has garnered a Graham Foundation grant and a UH New Faculty Research Award

RESEARCH PROFILE: Proposal Excavates the Ecological Legacies of Colonial Territorial Expansionism

Deepa Ramaswamy awarded University of Houston New Faculty Research Grant

Name: Deepa Ramaswamy

Award: UH New Faculty Research Award

Proposal: Reclaimed Lands: The Ecological Legacies of Colonial Bombay’s Coasts

Amount: $5,010

Proposal Overview

Mumbai city's endangered coasts are the current sites of ongoing climate disasters. They are also the artifacts of prolonged land reclamations into the sea that began as part of the colonial project of landscape transformations in the seventeenth century on the west coast of India. The speculative and infrastructural act of creating measurable and exploitable land from the sea is embedded in the genealogy and origin myths of the island city.

By tracing the differentiated and local histories of the city's coasts, the research includes the forgotten micronarratives of displaced indigenous populations, fragile ecosystems, colonial flood management, and resource extraction processes. The project situates contemporary Mumbai's insatiable need for land along the sea into its longer historical arc that traverses across generations and centuries of reclamation activities. They resulted in disappearing mangroves, beaches, aquatic ecosystems, fishing communities, and increased flooding events.

By studying the histories of Mumbai's coasts as discrete and vulnerable landforms, the research draws attention to the fraught relationships between land, landscape, infrastructure, and what scholar Rob Nixon calls the "long emergencies of the slow violence" of climate change.

What inspired your proposal?

I taught an urban design studio for undergraduate students at the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), India, called

"Every / Any / All / Some.” The studio studied Mumbai's eastern waterfront, which has a history of port, dock, and industrial activities. The studio required students to work with coastal regulations, city laws and regulations, existing development proposals, and climate change coastal data to propose an alternative to the current proposal of office and residential towers along the water. Teaching the studio and the excellent work from the students shaped my research interests in Mumbai's coasts and environmental histories.

What do you hope to accomplish?

The project culminates in a book. It is a historical, theoretical, and visual excavation of the ecological histories of Mumbai's coasts. It includes essays, cartographic and diagrammatic visualizations of the coasts, and photographs from published and archival sources, interviews, and site visits.

This research project studies the loss of coastal environments due to prolonged reclamation activities and the ensuing long histories of climate change. Climate change is not immediate or sudden but relatively slow, acting with mild and severe impacts traversing across generations and centuries. These impacts are often lost when the focus is exclusively on immediate effects. This research presents the ongoing erasure of Mumbai's coasts due to reclamation activities as a testament to these long histories.

The project also examines the histories of colonial Bombay's coasts as distinct from the more dominant urban histories of the city. Reading the coasts as unique areas of research leaves space for the inclusion of lost and forgotten micronarratives of displaced indigenous populations, ecosystems, colonial flood management, and

resource extraction processes. This research deliberately moves away from urban and city-driven research to engage with coastal territories as local and regional landforms.

Ultimately, I want this research to reorganize our understanding of the relationship between colonial perceptions of tropical nature, land, and reclamation infrastructure. As I argue, the complexity of these relationships has shaped how the city comprehends and engages with its coasts. The project will complicate these relationships by including cartographic, photographic, and diagrammatic visualizations of the changing coasts.

How will this research support your overall professional research goals?

This project is a book-length research that is one out of two

ongoing book projects I am currently working on. It is part of my research interests centering on land, legal, and environmental histories in postwar India and the United States. Central to this research is studying the social, economic, and environmental inequities emerging from the regulatory systems, material infrastructures, organizational practices, and financial instruments shaping the built environment.

How may Hines College students benefit from your research?

Over the next year, I plan to develop an elective course at the Hines College discussing coasts, urban histories, environmentalism, and climate change. —S.S.

BELOW: An image from 1911 of the the Great Reclamation scheme at Bombay



ANNOUNCED THIS SPRING THAT Dalia Munenzon, University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design Assistant Professor of Urban Design in Sustainable Communities and Infrastructure, as the recipient of its prestigious annual Research Prize. Munenzon’s proposal, Collective Comfort: Framing the Cooling Center as a Resiliency and Educational Hub for Communities in Desert Cities, rethinks community cooling centers and explores opportunities to combat heat-vulnerable communities.

Now in its fifth year, the SOM Foundation Research Prize offers two faculty-led interdisciplinary teams across the United States $ 40,000 research grants to conduct research related to the foundation’s current area of interest. This year’s theme of “Air” sparked an occasion for Munenzon and her research partner Liz Gálvez, an architecture faculty member at Yale University School of Architecture, to focus on heat resiliency.

Unlike flooding, where the risk is clearly present, extreme heat is an invisible hazard while just as dangerous. Underserved and lowincome communities are often the most susceptible to the impacts of high temperatures and compound environmental effects.

“The vulnerability of communities to heat risk is often the result of power equity and is rooted in the well-being, livelihood, and quality of the community’s

Hines College Professor Awarded SOM Foundation Research Prize

Dalia Munenzon explores heat resiliency strategies for vulnerable communities

built environment. Inequities in urban design, investment, and development patterns further worsen the health effects of high heat in these communities,” said Munenzon. “People who spend long hours outdoors in the heat working or waiting for transit can suffer longterm health effects. Air pollution can worsen the health effects on people with existing health conditions when combined with severe temperatures. The ‘invisibility’ of heat risk is even more evident as an equity issue with underserved communities.”

In 2020, the Phoenix Metro area, also known as “The Valley of the Sun,” suffered through 145 days of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As part of this research grant, Gálvez and Munenzon are developing an interdisciplinary collaboration with leading experts to facilitate discourse bridging building science, architectural, and social design to develop forwardlooking environmentalism. The focus on the Phoenix Metro area is a result of the extensive work done by the municipal government, local communities, and grassroots organizations, coupled with environmental researchers, to emphasize of the risks heat poses to human livelihoods. One of the local collaborators Melissa Guardaro, Assistant Research Professor at Arizona State University (ASU), was invited to share her extensive experience in comprehensive heat reduction strategy and efforts with local communities.

“Given her research in the Phoenix Metro area, Guardaro and her partners already started identifying existing community centers, facilities, religious centers, and sites where people naturally gather,” shared Munenzon. “We hope a workshop with the students will introduce

them to her work and methods and inspire them to develop an urban and architectural framework for selecting and designing these sites, ultimately building upon Arizona's ongoing focus on resilience hubs.”

Collective Comfort addresses heat resiliency in communities and how a cooling center, such as a community center, can provide different amenities and support capacity building within communities beyond simply answering the need for cooling at a particular moment. There is a need to propose different design strategies and solutions that are not necessarily mechanized. The process also creates better representation and education in itself.

Before centralized air conditioning, communal gathering spaces naturally developed to support various thermal conditions. Lisa Heschong penned the idea of “thermal delight” – places where people feel the thermal experience and encounter a cozy, inviting environment. Roman bathhouses and home firepits offered places for people to gather and avoid the elements, creating microclimates within existing architectural structures. Today, building codes and technical standards often drive design towards one stable condition of agreed comfort under the unified central air system. As a result, the world is seeing inequities in its most vulnerable communities with limited access to power.

“Within the urban scale, we want to work with the community to identify locations for community centers and determine whether there are structures that can be reused to serve this purpose,” said Munenzon. “We could potentially redesign the urban environment to address heat and explore ways to develop urban

microclimates and make thermal comfort visible.”

Collective Comfort’s research aims to investigate a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration through the production of visualization and somatic practices of thermal comfort. New designs will make the risk of urban heat visible and alleviate hazard bias through a resilient hub building new agency and stewardship for populations most at risk from heat and cooling inequality, spatially, performatively, and programmatically.

Gálvez and Munenzon have organized their work into two parts – a seminar in the fall of 2023 and parallel design studios at Yale and UH in the spring of 2024 The seminar includes multiple meetings with collaborators and gathering crucial research, ultimately culminating in a presentation at the end of the fall semester. In the spring, students at both universities will utilize the seminar’s work to inform their studios' outcomes. At the conclusion of the academic year, Gálvez and Munenzon plan to organize an exhibition on display at Yale, UH, and ASU.

Collective Comfort hopes to develop a public program rethinking the cooling center as an educational resilience hub. It also seeks to bring education on heat risk and weatherization efforts to the forefront, helping to destabilize mechanized perceptions of architecture through alternative visions promoting collectivity and community resilience in desert cities. —S.S.

ABOVE: Dalia Munenzon's other works with climate also resulted in a collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Design


RESEARCH PROFILE: Proposal Investigates the "Mesocosm"

Daniel Jacobs awarded University of Houston New Faculty Research Grant

Name: Daniel Jacobs

Award: UH New Faculty

Research Award

Proposal: MESO-COSM: Between the Laboratory and the Planet

Amount: $6,000

Proposal Overview

MESO-COSM: Between the Laboratory and the Planet is a proposal for a multi-disciplinary research and design project, as well as a public exhibition opening in the Fall of 2023 at the Hines College’s Mashburn Gallery. The project investigates the “mesocosm,” which is an experimental infrastructure scaled between the microcosm of the laboratory, and the macrocosm of the “real world.” Mesocosm experiments seek to create replicable ecosystems–from forest streams, to coastal prairies, to marine habitats–to study the long-term effects of climate change and other disturbances on ecological processes. Beyond their experimental applications, these mesocosm infrastructures are experiential pedagogical spaces. Located in field stations outside of the campus environment, they create embodied spaces for learning and teaching outside of the classroom, enabling students to explore complex ecosystem relations and fieldwork methods. The project is a collaboration between the UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design and Rice Architecture.

What inspired your proposal?

My partner Brittany Utting and I became interested in mesocosms through research we conducted last year about biological field stations. Field stations are architectural sites of environmental sensing, climate action, pedagogy, and ecosystem care. The result of this research project was a public art piece at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St.

Louis, called FIELD-STATION. As part of this research project, we visited several field stations that contained mesocosm experiments, such as the University of Houston Coastal Center (UHCC) and Sam Houston State University Center for Biological Field Studies (CBFS). In the course of our site visits and conversations with local scientists, we learned more about the spatial practices of research, not only the technical construction of mesocosms, but also how field work related to environmental pedagogy. Mesocosm experiments can be found all over the world in all types of landscapes, but information and representation about them are rare. We wanted to introduce this research into design thinking, using the mesocosm as a new frame through which to reimagine architecture’s role in a changing climate.

What do you hope to accomplish?

MESO-COSM: Between the Laboratory and the Planet will explore how these experiments—both through their technical forms and architectural expressions—operate as a critical interface of climate care and environmental pedagogy. The research phase will consist of spatial and technical analysis of the many examples of mesocosm experiments (both historical and currently operational) to understand the different typologies of experiments, as well as their application to architectural thinking. The project positions the mesocosm as a useful construction for designers, urbanists, ecologists, and others in the environmental humanities to think about new modes of mediating and observing transformations of landscapes and ecologies.

How will this research support your overall professional research goals?

The intent of the research and public exhibition is to use design as

a means to broaden conversations about experimental fieldwork, mesocosm experiments, and bring a multidisciplinary approach to environmental design research to a broader public. Focusing on the relationship between architecture, climate change, and ecological stewardship, MESO-COSM: Between the Laboratory and the Planet works toward the Hines College’s vision to tackle the increasingly urgent issue of climate change and its effect on the environment.

How may Hines College students benefit from your research?

I always try to incorporate the research we do in our practice with the topic studios I have been running, which attempt to unpack our troubled relationship to environmental systems and use design to imagine alternative futures. The research and exhibition phases also allow students to participate in the project through the panel discussion, lecture, and programming we are organizing around the exhibition. —S.S.

TOP TO BOTTOM: FIELD-STATION (2022), HOME-OFFICE, at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts (Alise O'Brien Photography); Brittany Utting and Daniel Jacobs

Kendall Professor

Andrew Kudless Awarded Top AIA National Sustainability Award

Confluence Park honored for convergence of sustainability and environmental performance

THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS COMMITTEE ON THE ENVIRONMENT (COTE) HAS named University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design Kendall Professor of Design Technologies Andrew Kudless among its 2023 COTE Top Ten 2023 winners. This recognition is the second AIA National award Kudless has received for Confluence Park, a project produced by his firm Matsys and Lake | Flato Architects. The annual Top Ten awards represent the architecture and design industry’s leading program in sustainable design excellence and practice.

Confluence Park was completed in 2018 and is positioned at the junction of the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek. Envisioned by the San Antonio River Foundation as a space for environmental experience and education, today, Confluence Park lives out this vision, bringing together the convergence of water, ecology, and culture.

“The park is organized into almost a ‘zoo of ecologies’ with different species from several surrounding regions of San Antonio,” said Kudless. “Along with the many ecotypes represented, the park includes a large outdoor pavilion and indoor classroom for visiting groups and activities. Together, a confluence with culture develops.”

The pavilion, designed by Kudless, embodies the life cycle of water in both its design and performance. Inspired by natural plant structures, the pavilion’s “petal” roof funnels water to the ground and deposits it in a giant cistern. The water is used throughout the year to provide irrigation for park grounds and operate park facilities. Visitors also find a cool place to gather under the pavilion as they learn from their park exploration, bridging the gap between outdoor and indoor spaces.

Core to the park’s confluence is its mission to cultivate sustainable practices and a culture of awareness in future generations. Since its opening, more than 32,000 students from over 70 school districts have visited the park at no cost to them. Students explore the park’s different ecotypes and learn about its sustainable practices from dedicated park rangers. Confluence Park serves as a source of conversation and discovery, not just by its mere presence but by how it sustains itself and contributes to the community.

In 2022, the park’s reach expanded internationally when it was named the North American Friendship Garden through a partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in Texas, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Antonio, the City of San Antonio, San Antonio River Authority, and San Antonio River Foundation.

The park’s overall cohesiveness and execution are a testament to the clear vision and strong partnership of its designers. Kudless worked closely with Tenna Florian, a partner at Lake | Flato and one of only five Texas members to be elected to the AIA College of Fellows this year, to realize the project’s success. The pair attended Tulane University and graduated in 1998, not realizing their professional paths would cross such an influential venture decades later.

ABOVE: Confluence Park sustains itself with many different ecotypes and serves as an education resource for the surrounding community

OPPOSITE PAGE: Since the park's opening, students from over 70 districts have visited

Positioned next to the pavilion, Lake | Flato developed the neighboring Estela Avery Education Center as an earthen building, low to the ground and covered with a green roof. The building’s design insulates itself well in the earth and, combined with its concrete structure, retains energy efficiently. Solar panels on the roof produce almost 100% of the energy needed to power the park throughout the year.

“This project demonstrates that good design and high-performance sustainability goals can be achieved through the careful integration of technology and design,” shared Kudless. “Although it has won several design awards in the past, I am honored for it to receive the COTE Top Ten Award as it recognizes the critical importance of sustainable design.”

The American Institute of Architects will celebrate the 2023 COTE Top Ten Awards at a special reception on Thursday, June 8, at 7: 30 pm, during the annual AIA Conference on Architecture in San Francisco, California. —S.S.


Hair Salon Exhibition Showcases Architectural Potential of Black Hair


Sheryl Tucker de Vazquez opened her long-awaited Hair Salon exhibition. The exhibition explores the generative potential of natural Black hair in the conception of architecture. Like race and architecture, hair texture and its care practices are constructs that can be utilized as a means of dominance and control or as a force of resistance and liberation.

As an extension of the Black body, natural Black hair remains at the center of dialogues on power, cultural value, beauty, and social standing. It is a compelling tool to engender conversations on the power of Blackness as a cultural, intellectual, and aesthetic force.

“Very little African material culture survived the TransAtlantic slave trade,” said de Vazquez. “But the unique material properties of Black hair, more than any other genetic trait, signifies Blackness, and Black hair care practices are a vibrant, living inheritance throughout African diasporic cultures.”

Hair Salon creates a new architectural language/syntax inspired by the material properties of natural Black hair and the rules of its hair care practices. “We live in such a western civilization and culture, where African Americans

are along the edges and western culture is at the center. What I am trying to do is take African American ways of being in the world and putting that in the center,” de Vazquez shared.

The multi-faceted exhibition team was made up of de Vazquez; Marcella del Signore, director of graduate studies in architecture, urban, and regional planning at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT); Tatiana Teixeira, instructor at NYIT; William D. Williams, associate professor of architecture at the University of Cincinnati; Felecia Davis, Pennsylvania State University associate professor of architecture and director of Softlab; Dijana Handonovic´, assistant professor of interior architecture at UH; Medina Dugger, photographer; Francois Beaurain, photographer/multi-media artist; and Rabéa Ballin, professor of art at Lone Star College.

The exhibition, which ran from February 2–28, was funded by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and supported by the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design and the University of Houston African-American Studies Department.

Additionally, the Hair Salon received coverage in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Digest, Yes! Magazine, Houston Chronicle, and Houston CityBook —S.S.

Funded by the Graham Foundation, exhibition highlights Black hair through the work of architects, designers, and artists across the world
ABOVE: Sheryl Tucker de Vazquez, the lead investigator for exhibition, poses in front of her piece "Coiled Field" in the Mashburn Gallery

FIRST ROW: "Coiled Field" by de Vazquez, anchored the exhibition space. The 15-foot wide table composed of 22 fragments and copper coils represent the African Diaspora; "Signal Braids and Song Maps" by alumnus William D. Williams '89 hung in the atrium

SECOND ROW: Guests view the exhibition on opening night of Hair Salon

THIRD ROW: Works by Marcella del Signore and Rabéa Ballin; another view of Williams's work

FOURTH ROW: Opening night included a dance performance; guests view the works on display, including photos by Medina Dugger and Francois Beaurain


XO House Honored with 2023 TxA Design Award

Hines professor’s labor of love and commitment to research on display

THE TEXAS SOCIETY OF ARCHITECTS (TXA) RECENTLY recognized LOJO Architecture, a firm founded and operated by University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design professors Jason Logan (B.Arch. '00) and Matthew Johnson, as a winner of its 2023 Design Award for the firm's XO House. The annual design awards recognize outstanding architectural and urban design projects by architects practicing in Texas to promote public interest in design excellence.

Initially designed for Logan and his wife, plans for the XO House quickly changed when Logan's father-in-law needed to move to Houston. The couple decided to create a house where Logan's father-in-law could live on the property but separate from their family.

"We bought this property because there were two houses on it," explained Logan. "We could renovate one for him and then add on to the other one for ourselves." Once Logan began the renovation process,

he learned they would need to rebuild the house to maintain it. The property is in a 500 -year flood zone, and the City of Houston requires it to retain a certain amount of rainwater on site.

Logan and Johnson have always been interested in looking at historical typologies and precedents to guide their work. In this case, the two looked at the Roman Dominus for inspiration. They also found inspiration in the home's different amenities that could be used as a place where both sides of the house could gather. The courtyard was perfect for a shared space, eventually becoming an outdoor dining area.

While construction on the house began in October 2019, it would come to a screeching halt six months later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, the duo decided to adjust the way construction crews worked to continue with the project.

"We had multiple construction crews simultaneously on-site, and

our crews were comfortable with their own," shared Logan. "We decided that if one team was on-site at a time, and they were comfortable with those workers, we could move forward."

The name XO House streams from how the ground floorplan resembles an X and the top floor resembles an O. Logan worked with Hines College alumnus Shaya Attaei (M.Arch. ' 15, B.Arch. ' 13, B.S. ' 13) on the project. Attaei owns ARIA Signs & Design and designed the custom gate for the house, containing a pattern going from X's to O's and blending in between the two letters. The company also created custom hardware for the home.

Seeing the finished product and being honored for the XO House was quite satisfying for Logan and Johnson because they are both very committed to their work at the Hines College. Logan believes the XO House was not only a labor of love but also validates his and Johnson's research interest in heir discipline. —Symone


To learn more about XO House, check out The Architect's Newspaper coverage earlier this year.

LEFT TO RIGHT: The gate with X's and O's that Logan worked with alumnus Shaya Attaei to create; Logan and his wife by the stairs on the ground floor
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Exterior views of the house based on the Roman domus typology; the courtyard gathering space; a view of a bedroom on the second floor; the living and dining area on the second floor

Design/Build Professor Wins Inaugural AISC Award of Distinction

American Institute of Steel and Construction honors commitment to community and hands-on approach to design education

For over 30 years, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design professor Patrick Peters has led the University of Houston's award-winning design/ build program, but now the spotlight has turned from the program to Peters himself. The American Institute of Steel and Construction (AISC) recently awarded Peters among its first-ever AISC Awards of Distinction, recognizing individuals who have produced high-quality work in the steel industry.

AISC Senior Structural Steel Specialist Alex Morales, Associate AIA, EDAC, LEED Green Assoc, felt it was important to nominate Professor Peters for this award because he believes Peters has created a long-lasting impact shaping the future of students pursuing architecture.

The award was a complete shock to Peters, who was unaware Morales had nominated him. One day during studio, Morales surprised Peters and his students with the award. Although the award was unexpected, the recognition affirmed Peters' work over his professional career, especially in an industry he was not directly involved with.

"Through his years of work in design/build, Peters has created an open lab affording real-world exposure and

design experience to students constituting the future of architecture," said Morales. "This special approach is not commonplace in most architecture schools, and these actions forge cross-disciplinary collaboration essential for success in architecture careers."

Peters believes this honor is really about the students. He is incredibly proud of how the student's commitment and ambition reflect the quality of work they develop and bring to fruition.

The Hines College's graduate design/build studio centers around working with regional non-profit organizations to develop design solutions and see those creations come to life. From initial conception to completed construction, students are able to engage in the design process from start to finish, giving them a more hands-on perspective as they prepare for their professional careers.

Peters and his students recently completed a new outdoor classroom at HISD's Frank Black Middle School. Over the program's extensive history, its most notable projects include the T.H. Rogers School Amphitheater, Alief Community Garden, ReFRAME x FRAME for the centennial celebration in Hermann Park, and Centennial Gate Port of Houston. —S.D.

Summer Reads

ABOVE: Peters, fourth from right, dedicates the award to his students
New books published by Hines College faculty cover a range of architectural topics. ideas, and histories
Big Little Hotel: Small Hotels Designed by Architects by Donna Kacmar ($39 95; amazon.com) Living + Dying INbetween the Real + the Virtual by Peter Jay Zwieg ($55; amazon.com)

ID Co-Director Mark Kimbrough Receives Graphic Design USA Award

Winning design showcases crucial relationship between client and designer


ANNOUNCED UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON GERALD D. Hines College of Architecture and Design associate professor and co-director of industrial design Mark Kimbrough as an award winner for his logo design in the category of corporate branding. GDUSA was established in 1963 and connects business-to-business information sources for graphic design professionals while also highlighting the latest news, trends, and people making waves in the field of graphic design.

In 2022, Umbach Consulting Group approached Kimbrough to help reevaluate the company’s logo. Having worked with the group for over 20 years, Kimbrough was quite familiar with their business and brand. He decided to create a design that would resonate with the company’s legacy rather than an entirely new logo.

Initially, their logo was a registration mark commonly used in printing and lithography, but today, with Kimbrough’s redesign, it has become more adaptable and suited for all their needs.

"I was instrumental in helping morph the registration mark into something that could have much more flexibility," Kimbrough said. "They just needed the flexibility to use the logo slightly differently. I came up with the idea of integrating color to represent certain segments of their business.”

While reimaging the logo for his client, Kimbrough first had to examine who the company was today and how its brand could support its future business. The importance of collaboration and communication between a company and the graphic designer is essential to obtain a favorable design.

"Sometimes, the client may not even know what they want,” he shared. “It is our job, as designers, to find ways to extract that information from the client by giving them much variety."

Kimbrough feels that learning multiple aspects of branding and its integration will help students stand out in the job market because greater skills translate to added value.

“It is one thing to have a beautiful image or logo, but I am more interested in how you think,” Kimbrough said.

As a professor and entrepreneur who has hired graphic designers, Kimbrough advises students desiring a long career in graphic design to know how to communicate their design process to others. Throughout their education, Hines College industrial design students are challenged to develop innovative products and the brands associated with them, ultimately better preparing them for their future professional careers. —S.D.

LEFT TO RIGHT: The old Umbach logo; Kimbrough's winning redesign gave the client flexibility and a way to represent different sectors of their business through the use of color The Architecture of Birdsall P. Briscoe by Stephen Fox ($85; amazon.com)
May/June Issue Features CoAD Professor and Recent Alumna
Futures of the Architectural Exhibition Edited by Reto Geiser and Michael Kubo ($25; amazon.com)
Texas Architect
Kendall Professor Andrew Kudless created the images for the cover and the accompanying story, "Ghosts in the Machine," while Pooja Desai '23 contributed the story "Y Not?"


Network brings together unexpected collaboration reinventing tradition



HERSELF OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON BLAFFER ART Museum, supported by her husband and Hines College colleagues, digging a forklift out of the mud. For many, this would have been a bad omen for what was yet to come during the upcoming spring semester; however, for Handanovic´, it was the start of something extraordinary.


On this particular winter morning, Handanovic´, an assistant professor in interior architecture, was installing a kiosk for her new exhibition. Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Handanovic´ had taken a personal interest in the Kiosk K67 popular in her home country. Designed in 1966 by architect Saša Janez Mächtig, only about 7,500 kiosks were produced before production halted in 1999

Following the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, only a small number of kiosks remained, and most were in terrible condition. In their prime, the kiosks were often used as newspaper stands, coffee shops, post offices, and other everyday purposes.

Handanovic´ made it her mission to acquire several kiosks and restore them to their former glory. She refurbished three of the four kiosks she attained in Bosnia and shipped them to the United States. Because the kiosks had such a connection to Handanovic´ as a child, it was meaningful for her to bring this part of her youth to life and sustain the architectural value of the kiosks.

“For me, the kiosk is a moment creating a pause in an urban setting,” said Handanovic´. “It allows people to gather around something unique yet common and come together.”

The kiosk installation helped Handanovic´ provide her students with a visible example of the importance of carrying traditional architecture into a modern context. The Kiosk K67 exhibition opened at Blaffer Art Museum on January 26, showcasing the history of the kiosks and immersing visitors in a cultural experience, including original music

composed by Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts students inspired by the kiosks.

Yet, how could Handanovic´ further impress upon her students the importance of bringing traditional, cultural design into our present world?


Alumnus Adam Spencer Cook (B.Arch. ’ 11, B.S. ’ 11, B.B.A. ’ 11) has been good friends with Handanovic´ for quite some time and has served as a juror for her design studio reviews. Cook graduated from the Hines College architecture program but found himself more interested in interiors after working with furniture design as a student. Following graduation, Cook followed a nontraditional route and took a job with a furniture design company in Houston. Ultimately, he opened his own showroom, Shop Called Shop, in 2018. His business focuses on providing contemporary furniture, lighting, and rugs to the design

IN JANUARY, DIJANA HANDANOVIC ´ (M.ARCH. ’15, B.F.A. ’09) FOUND THIS PAGE: Adam Cook '11, Zanat master woodcarver Ali Šahinovic´, Dijana Handanovic´ ' 09, and Zanat CEO Orhan Nikšic´ pose together at the Kiosk K67 / Zanat Exhibition Handanovic´ with the Kiosk K67 in the Blaffer Art Museum courtyard
THIS SPREAD: Scenes from the Kiosk K67 / Zanat Exhibition at the Blaffer Art Museum. The night included a demonstration of the Konjic woodcarving technique while the kiosk housed pieces from Zanat's collection.

community and high-end consumers in the Houston Market.

Knowing the kiosks were coming to town, Handanovic´ and Cook discussed how the kiosks could possibly be used to engage the University of Houston community. Handanovic´ explained to Cook the strong cultural connection she had with the kiosks, sparking an idea that would ultimately bring the project to a full circle moment.

Cook represents Zanat, a Bosnian furniture designer and manufacturer, as the company’s Houston distributor. He connected the company’s CEO and co-founder, Orhan Nikšic´, with Handanovic´ to discuss a possible collaboration with the closing of the K67 kiosk exhibition.

“From our first conversation, Orhan remembered buying his lunch boxes from a K67 kiosk,” shared Cook. “I think we were all really interested to see how this could go in different directions and how different people could have various takeaways from the same exhibition.”

The Kiosk K67 served many different UH communities throughout its installation, including the McGovern College of the Arts, Mitchell Center for the Arts, Hines College student organizations, and more; however, a

partnership with Zanat would be an opportunity for students to engage the kiosk in a new way. Handanovic´ and Cook arranged for Zanat to come to Houston and perform a woodcarving workshop for the students in coordination with an exhibition.

“Zanat had never been to Houston,” said Cook. “A demonstration like this had never happened in person, so it was sort of a way to introduce Zanat to the market here, including architects and designers, students at the Hines College, and others in the industry. We brought this experience to people locally and in a tangible way that was both involved and interactive.”


The first company in Nikšic´’s family to start making hand-carved furniture was registered in 1919. Known for their high-quality hand-carved furniture, his family was arguably the best-known in the business. Woodcarving started as a primitive village hobby, carving and decorating everyday objects not typically sold beyond the village. As a result, woodcarvers had very little exposure to the European design scene.

While Yugoslavia was under the rule of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, talented woodcarvers approached the government and

asked to be educated at prominent art schools in Prague. Thanks to the government’s investment in their trade, woodcarvers started developing more sophisticated designs, perfecting the carving process, aesthetic, and quality of their work. They began collaborating with established furniture manufacturers in Bosnia. Their pieces were exhibited at the most prominent international exhibitions in Europe during the turn of the 20th century, including the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris and the Jubilee Exhibition of 1898 in Vienna. However, as time went on, the woodcarving technique lost its appeal.

“Woodcarving is probably one of the first arts, existing in primordial times,” said Nikšic´. “When you look at furniture design in Europe, you see a lot of woodcarving; however, as modern design became more minimalist, the craft was lost because of its association with more traditional designs.”

It was almost accidental that Nikšic´ got involved in the family business. He had gone off to the United States to study abroad and stayed to work for the World Bank. He was always interested in doing something entrepreneurial and soon realized that his family business might be the right opportunity.

“From our first conversation, Orhan remembered buying his lunch boxes from a K67 kiosk,” shared Cook. “I think we were all really interested to see how this could go in different directions …”
ABOVE: The Kiosk K67 exhibit included archival photos of the kiosks' many uses, from vendors selling coffee and magazines to serving as post offices OPPOSITE PAGE: The opening night of the Kiosk K67 exhibition where attendees lined up at the kiosk to receive refreshments

PREVIOUS SPREAD: Students from Handanovic´'s and Interior Architecture interim director Sheryl Tucker de Vasquez's studios took part in a woodcarving workshop with Zanat

THIS SPREAD: Scenes from the woodcarving workshop in the Architecture Building's atrium; students received hands-on instruction and used tools provided by Zanat


“In 2015, together with my brother, we decided we wanted to do something completely new with the small family workshop,” shared Nikšic´. “At the time, the business was operating mainly in Bosnia. The market was small, and the designs were dated, not reflecting the spirit of contemporary designs.”

In 2017, their Konjic woodcarving technique was inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The company is committed to preserving cultural heritage. Its ability to engage skilled people, particularly in countries with high unemployment rates, like Bosnia, shows its commitment to supporting society.

“Our mission as a company and brand is to promote the value of fine craft and craftsmanship,” said Nikšic´. “We see them as important elements of our cultural heritage to preserve, but we also see value in coupling traditional crafts and skills

with modern design. We see design not just as a tool to create beautiful objects, but as a tool for leading positive socio-economic change.”


On March 8, Zanat visited the Hines College for an exclusive woodcarving workshop with students. The chance to come and interact with UH students hit home with Zanat, who, as a company, has hired and trained over 60 young people in the craft. Nikšic´ explained the process of woodcarving to the students, including the wood being used, what needed to be done to prepare it, and the right tools required.

Handanovic´ hoped the experience would open her students’ minds to learning traditional techniques and imagining their own ways of reinventing them. When students start their academic careers in foundation design studio, they familiarize themselves with materials, techniques, modeling, and making. As they go through their education, students develop

their skills further, so that when they encounter something new, they can question, reinvent, and apply their knowledge to their projects as best they can.

“You can look at anything –nature, traditional craft, weaving, patterns – and find inspiration. To me, traditional crafts are very important in how we reinvent them,” shared Handanovic´. “In a beautiful way, Zanat has managed to preserve the history of something that was completely dying out, but yet do it in such a way to make it relevant for today.”

The collaboration between Handanovic´, Cook, and Zanat shows the power of networking. In this case, not only was the collaboration a full-circle moment for Handanovic´ and connecting with her home country, it provided an opportunity for Cook to use his connections to introduce Zanat to the Houston market and connect students with an exceptional design company halfway across the world. ❑

LEARN MORE Shop: shopcalledshop.com Zanat: zanat.org
“You can look at anything – nature, traditional craft, weaving, patterns – and find inspiration. To me, traditional crafts are very important in how we reinvent them,” shared Handanovic´.





Hines College graduating students share their personal experiences

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GERALD D. HINES COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN CLASS OF 2023! THIS YEAR’S graduating class had quite an academic experience, especially as they navigated the global COVID-19 pandemic, an unwelcome interruption to their education. They saw the challenges of a changing world and successfully persevered to the end.

The Class of 2023 may have questioned their paths at times, but their deep commitment to making a difference in the built, social, economic, political, and global communities we share inspired them to continue and overcome the trials they faced.

Their families also made significant sacrifices so they could pursue higher education. At the Hines College’s May 12 th commencement ceremony, family members from across the world – including, Egypt, Lebanon, Italy, and Vietnam – traveled to the University of Houston to celebrate this momentous achievement.

ABOVE: The Hines College is proud of this year’s top graduates, serving as banner bearers at the May 12th commencement ceremony. Standing from left to right, Gina Biscardi, Raffaella Montelli, Tarek Moubayed, and Sarah Wong.

Many of our graduates shared their personal stories to encourage others on their journeys.




Originally from Vietnam, Phillip came to the United States with the desire to create a better life for himself. During his freshman year, Phillip tragically lost his mother. The emotional distress of her death was very difficult for Phillip as he navigated his studies. Although his mother could not be physically present at graduation, we hope she can see the incredible milestone he has achieved.



Kassidi Yosko experienced the loss of loved ones throughout her time as a student. The deaths of her older brother, mother, and close friend brought Kassidi much grief and depression during her educational career. However, Kassidi decided she could not let anything keep her from going after the career she had dreamed about since she was eight years old.



In 2019, Kamiel moved to Houston from the Ivory Coast of West Africa to study industrial design. Although showing a passion for design at a young age, Kadmiel was told that he did not “have the natural predisposition” – yet he did not let this stop him. Kadmiel pushed forward. Like many of his peers, Kadmiel faced the realities of paying for school.

He overcame this challenge through the support and sacrifices of his parents, applying for scholarships, the support of close friends, and, yes, even bargaining with the bursar’s office. Today as Kadmiel ends his senior year as President of the Student Council, he share his own words of wisdom: “It is possible to start ugly and end as a reference.”

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Phillip Le poses in front of the Architecture Building; Kassidi Yosko drew a portrait honoring her loved ones; Kadmiel Konan at the the Industrial Design EV Concepts Exhibition last fall



After moving from Guanajuato, Mexico, to the United States almost eight years ago, Mary is graduating at 27 years old. While living in Mexico, Mary began her college career, but once she moved to Houston, it was like starting over for her – she had to learn a new language and adapt to a very different culture. Although Mary applied to the Hines College in 2018, she was not admitted. However, since she was admitted to the University of Houston, Mary took the opportunity to enroll in art classes to help strengthen her architecture portfolio.

When it came time to reapply the following year, Mary was accepted. She credits being a part of the AIAS student leadership for pushing her to become a better student, person, and leader. Mary studied architecture because she wanted to help others have accessible, affordable homes.



Growing up, Sarah did not think college was attainable for her. At age 12, she suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with Lupus and mild cognitive dysfunction. She was also held back two grades in high school due to struggles with dyslexia. Eventually, a cognitive test revealed that Sarah was actually very strong in 3 D visualization, giving her hopes of studying industrial design a reality. Sarah chose to study at UH because it is where her doctor was located in Houston.

Although Sarah’s doctor discouraged her from going to college because it could cause stress on her body, she did not let that get in the way of furthering her education. Almost every semester of her time in college, Sarah was admitted to the emergency room from extreme pain and fatigue, but she kept moving forward. Her understanding, caring, and encouraging professors helped her persevere to the end.


The road to get to graduation has not been an easy one for Tarek. He moved from Lebanon to the United States during an economic collapse, a pandemic, and the loss of his grandmother. His motivation for obtaining his master’s degree was to expand his intellectual horizons. While at the Hines College, Tarek was challenged to think outside the box and pursue passions not as well nurtured in his undergraduate career. Working as a teaching assistant, part-time designer at a design-build firm, full-time student, and an active member of the COAD Student Council all took a toll on his mental health.

Nonetheless, Tarek reached out to CAPS and got the help he needed to re-establish his mental and physical well-being and continue pursuing all his passionate activities. Today, Tarek is thankful for the connections he made and the familial relationships he developed during his time at the College, which helped him overcome his challenges.

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Tarek Moubayed shows off his Cougar Pride in front of the Architecture Building; Mary Garcia-Aguilera is among the many student organization leaders at the College; Sarah Wong poses with her project at the Industrial Design EV Concepts Exhibition last fall

OPPOSITE PAGE: Graduates flip the tassels on their caps as commencement ends



During her junior year of high school, a field trip to San Antonio sparked Carla’s love for architecture. Having grown up in the small town of Welasco, Texas, Carla was amazed by the high-rise buildings and how architecture has the ability to come to life. Unfortunately, she could not leave her hometown right after high school, so she took courses at a community college, eventually completing a Certificate in Architecture Drafting, an Associate Degree in Architecture Drafting and Design, and an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

By the time she came to UH, Carla was 23 years old. She was at a point in her life where she wanted to continue her education; however, she also wanted to start a family. So, why not do both?! Carla had her first daughter in 2018 and her second daughter in 2022 – all while managing her studies! She says the experience helped give her perspective on how architecture can impact our daily lives and improve the world. She would not have been able to juggle school and family without the support of her mother, who left everything behind to come to support her in reaching her educational ambitions.


Umme decided to pursue architecture because it combines her love for art and science. Although a tough decision, she moved from Bangladesh to the United States alone in 2018. As an international student without experience or knowledge in architecture, Umme had to learn how to adjust to her new environment. Living alone took a toll on her mental health, manifesting as anxiety. She did not want to return to school; however, after visiting her family for winter break, Umme realized how proud her parents were of her pursuit of higher education. She returned to UH with a renewed perspective and mindset. Umme’s advice — “Perseverance is the key to success.”


Raffaella is not a typical graduate student at the Hines College. Originally from Italy, she moved to the United States in 1999. Upon entering the UH graduate program in architecture, she held multiple doctorate and master degrees, including a Ph.D. in Geophysics from Princeton University. As a child, Raffaella wanted to become an architect, enrolling in a high school for the arts to start preparing for her future. However, her career took a turn toward her other passion — physics. In 2020, she decided to pursue her first love — architecture.

After an intense professional career, she found it incredibly difficult to slow down as a student, resulting in a more balanced life. She feels her diverse experiences in education and her professional career have prepared her for this moment. As she embarks on a new professional chapter, she hopes to address today’s societal challenges to empower communities, resulting in a built environment that is resilient and equitable. ❑

OPPOSITE PAGE: Graduates lined up and ready to be seated for commencement THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: Carla Castro-Rios with her daughters; Raffaella Montelli during a jury review; Umme Salma poses on the Architecture Building stairs

A dialogue with Vietnamese immigrant alumnus Manh Tran (M.Arch. ’94, B.Arch. ’91)


THIS YEAR, THE HINES COLLEGE CELEBRATED ITS LARGEST GRADUATING CLASS TO DATE. A RECORD-BREAKING 190 students crossed the graduation stage on May 12, 2023, ready to start their professional careers in architecture and design. For decades, the College has welcomed a rich diversity of students from across the world. Just this year, family members from several countries, including Egypt, Italy, Lebanon, and Vietnam, traveled to the University of Houston to participate in the College’s intimate commencement ceremony at the architecture building.

Our students come from diverse backgrounds with rich family histories and deep cultural roots. Alumnus Manh Tran (M.Arch. ’94, B.Arch. ’91) is just one example. At the age of eight years old, his family moved to the United States from Vietnam to escape the Fall of Saigon. Hines College executive director of communications Stephen Schad sat down with Tran to learn about his experience coming to the United States, nurturing his passion for architecture, and his tenured career with SHOPCO.

STEPHEN SCHAD: When you moved to the United States from Vietnam, how did the shift in culture and way of life impact on you as a child?

MANH TRAN: As an eight-year-old, everything in life differed from Vietnam. The most challenging struggle, though, was the language barrier. Somehow, as the nuns at the school assured my parents, it did not take long for me to pick up the English language and to speak comfortably.

Shopping for groceries or clothes was quite a “wow” moment upon arriving in the United States. I was amazed at the size of the stores and their offerings. My parents eventually moved to Houston and bought a convenience store. They wanted to fulfill the dream of owning their own business. It became a family business, and I contributed my fair share of time to run and operate the store, giving me a good understanding of how convenience stores operate. Perhaps, my experiences are what inspired my future professional career. Now I design convenience stores. Life, education, and career have come full circle for me.

SS: When and how did you discover your passion for architecture? How did you land on the University of Houston?

MT: My attraction to architecture started in junior high school when I took my first drafting class. I found great interest in our final assignment of the year, measuring and drawing the house I was living in. During this time, I learned that my dad’s best friend from Chicago worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). He was on the team working on the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Whenever our families got together, he would share his experiences from the project.

Originally, the University of Houston was not my first choice. I was accepted to the University of Minnesota, but in the winter of 1985, my parents moved to Houston to start a business of their own. After I graduated from high school, I moved to Houston to be with my family. UH was a logical choice for convenience and cost. The College of Architecture had also just opened its new Philip Johnson building, so I considered it perfect timing.

SS: As an immigrant, did you have a different perspective from other students? Were there other students in the program with similar shared experiences?

MT: By the time I got to junior high, the English language was no longer a hindrance to me. I felt just like any other student. At UH, it was pretty much the same way. My Vietnamese friends had made a similar path in life as myself, and we no longer saw ourselves as immigrants. We were now Asian American.

I was surprised by my initial observation and experiences at the UH. I was quickly reminded that I was no longer in the suburbs of Minneapolis. UH was a major university, and there are many international students. It was a truly diverse university, and you learned to appreciate the different cultures.

SS: Was there any defining moment of your education at the University of Houston that left a significant impact on you? Were there any faculty who influenced your education and how you think about architecture today?

MT: At the end of my third year, there was a year-end review by our professors to see if students should continue with architecture. Even though you have invested three years into the program, there was a chance you may be asked to change your major. I lost several classmates that spring. Luckily, I was selected to continue with the program, and I graduated in 1991 with my Bachelor of Architecture degree.

Burdette Keeland was both my favorite and most influential professor. He was also there for the beginning and end of my education. My academic career started with his introduction to architecture, and then he was my design professor in my fifth year. When I see something new, I look out for the small elements of the project. I ask myself the same questions Keeland asked me on my design projects: What is this? Why is it there? How does it fit? How does it flow with the design?

SS: In what ways has your heritage and culture had an effect on your work?

MT: My parents always taught me to give it my all, and, when the time comes, dare to take on any challenge. Only good things will come from those challenges. Hard work and strong determination have been my motto throughout my career.

"You are living in one gigantic melting pot. Be proud of who you are, and most importantly, be confident of what you can do and how you can contribute to the world of architecture."

SS: Tell me about the start of your career right out of UH. Did you face any particular challenges? What has your career path looked like at SHOPCO?

MT: Work experience, or the lack of it, was the major hurdle. I helped with the family business and could not obtain the required experience. It was tough when a firm was not willing to give you a chance to prove yourself.

In May 1996, I was offered a position as the CAD Designer at SHOPCO. My job allowed me to design interior store layouts of convenience stores (C-stores) for clients across the United States. Over the years, I have assisted and created new parts and counter systems for the ever-changing market.

SS: Tell me about your work at SHOPCO over the last 27 years. How did your education prepare you for your career with the company? What do you enjoy about your work with the company?

MT: The College’s design studios and structural classes really paved

the way for my career at SHOPCO. Studio taught me how to channel my creativity. Convenience stores are small spatial projects. From the front doors, you create paths to multiple places within the store. Structural classes reminded me that math must always add up.

I have really enjoyed seeing the projects I have designed come to life. They range from a small 400 square feet remodel to a 40,000 square feet travel plaza. It is true that I do learn something new every day at SHOPCO. Every store is different, especially as we manage the uniqueness our client’s desire. These challenges fuel my drive to do more each day.

The convenience store industry has evolved greatly over the years. It is no longer a gas station or a place to get a soda and a pack of cigarettes. More attention is given to the exterior of the building. More food and drink programs have been

created to provide consumers with exclusive shopping experiences. SHOPCO participates in creating these experiences, and I am the designer making this happen.

SS: What advice would you give current students and young alumni just starting their careers?

MT: Do not get hung up on trying to find that one prestigious firm to work for or wanting to become the next Frank Lloyd Wright. Architecture is a broad subject, and there are many related job fields. Find a career you enjoy and are enthusiastic about it. This way, it is no longer a job, but a love.

Look at your classmates, look at your university, look at your society. You are living in one gigantic melting pot. Be proud of who you are, and most importantly, be confident of what you can do and how you can contribute to the world of architecture. ❑

PREVIOUS SPREAD: A food service area designed by Tran for SHOPCO ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: Tran enjoys seeing projects of all scales coming to life; Another interior for SHOPCO




Alumni plan for a lasting legacy of impact


MOST PEOPLE AVOID THINKING ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN BEYOND THEIR LIFETIME. HOWEVER, IT IS NEVER TOO EARLY TO LOOK BEYOND THE PRESENT MOMENT AND ENVISION HOW YOU WILL IMPACT this world. What are you leaving for the next generation? How are you contributing to your community's future? Through planned giving, you have the power to leave a living legacy and commit to the future now.

When William F. Stern passed away in 2013, his estate created the William F. Stern Endowed Visiting Professorship. The endowment supports bringing prominent visiting critics and lecturers to the Hines College through the endowment's annual distribution. Since its inception, the College has welcomed esteemed architects, including Wendall Burnette, MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple, Brooks + Scarpa, and MAIO, to work with students throughout the fall semester and present an annual all-school lecture.

Stern's endowment is a perfect example of the effect a planned gift can have on our students and academic community. Hines College alumni Joe Webb (B.Arch.' 71) and Michael Johnson (B.Arch. '67, B.S. '67 ) recently established their own planned gifts at the University of Houston, setting the stage for two future endowments supporting the Hines College in perpetuity. They hope their foresight and generosity inspire others to consider how they imagine their legacies and look beyond the present.


Alumnus Joe Webb is well-known in Houston's urban design and planning scene. His impact on the city, especially in the Montrose district, during his over 40year career is admirable. Webb discovered his interest in urban design as a student at the College.

"Back when I was in school, Burdette Keeland was actively teaching, Earl Britton taught urban design and planning, and John Zemanek got us thinking, as well," said Webb. "All three men had different approaches and levels of expertise, but they all got me thinking outside the box and understanding that although we always know our building is going to impact and shape people, we must understand that what we put into the environment will make a significant impact, as well."

While they may not have realized it then, Webb's professors ignited a spark within him to not only think outside the box but think beyond it. Webb's dedication to urban design and planning has been unwavering ever since. The founding principal of his own firm, Webb Architects in Houston, Webb is also the immediate past chair of Blueprint Houston, a past president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Houston Chapter and the Houston Architecture Foundation, where he founded the AIA Houston Urban Design Committee. Since 2015, he has served on the Hines College's Leadership Council as a member of the advisory group to Dean Patricia Belton Oliver, FAIA. Likewise, since 2015, he has served on the board of Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) 27 and the Montrose Redevelopment Authority and was named chair in 2021

Throughout his career, Webb has worked closely with the City of Houston, involved in various urban studies resulting in prime redevelopment and neighborhood development in the city. His education, combined with his work in the Houston community, inspired Webb to consider how he could leave a lasting legacy in a way that reflected his passion.

As part of his estate planning, Webb has decided to establish the Joe Douglas Webb Endowed Chair for Urban Design supporting the research-enhancing activities of a faculty member who can broaden course offerings, spearhead new research, and increase community outreach. The Hines College has prominent faculty in the field of urban design, including Susan Rogers, director of the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC), Bruce Race, director of the Center for Sustainability and Resilience (CeSAR), and Dalia Munenzon, who joined the College in 2022 as an assistant professor of urban design in sustainable systems and infrastructure.

"We have the people with the knowledge, and hopefully, the creation of a chair for urban design will give the program more structure," said Webb. "I hope having a chair will spark at least one person to think of urban design as I do. If that happens, it will be worth every penny of it. One person can change the world."

The Joe Douglas Webb Endowed Chair for Urban Design will set up the University of Houston to lead urban design in the fourth largest city in the United States. Other programs in the city have started shifting their direction to other areas, allowing the Hines College to capitalize on the moment and establish itself in the field.

OPPOSITE PAGE: Joe Webb's gift will set up an endowed chair for urban design at the Hines College
"I hope having a chair will spark at least one person to think of urban design as I do. If that happens, it will be worth every penny of it. One person can change the world."
"I asked myself, who has been helpful to me in my life and career? And, of course, the University of Houston architecture program stood out."


Following in his father's footsteps, alumnus Mike Johnson always wanted to study architecture. He spent most of his childhood in Houston; however, Johnson's family moved to London after his first year in high school. Upon graduating from high school, Johnson decided to make his way back to Houston for college, which would prove to be a challenge in itself.

With his family back in London, he was basically on his own. The 1960s were also a very tumultuous time in the world. The Vietnam War was ongoing, and many men, especially Johnson's age, were at risk of being drafted. Avoiding the military was not an option; however, if he could remain in good academic standing, Johnson could maintain deferment while in school.

When he graduated, job opportunities were sparse. Companies would not hire young men right out of school because they knew they would likely be drafted. Eventually, Johnson was drafted and stationed with the Army Corps of Engineers in Honolulu, Hawaii. Lucky for Johnson, his immediate supervisor was a registered architect, meaning all his time in the service would later count toward his licensing requirements.

Upon returning to Houston, he landed a job with an architecture firm specializing in K-12 design. Five years later, Johnson opened his own firm with alumnus Victor Gelsomino (B.Arch '67, B.S.' 66), forming Gelsomino Johnson Architects. Gelsomino worked as a staff architect for St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in the Texas Medical Center (TMC), so upon establishing their firm, the two partners had an immediate backlog of business from the TMC. After 15 years, the firm was absorbed by Watkins Carter Hamilton, which, through a series of mergers, eventually became EYP – the firm Johnson retired from at the end of his professional career.

"When I was at UH, I found myself understanding that I did not consider myself an architectural designer," shared Johnson. "I was far more inquisitive about how buildings go together, and so much of the curriculum, at the time, was exclusively focused on design."

As his career advanced, Johnson realized how important it was to understand how a building came together, which guided his career path. Johnson found himself working as a project architect, assisting the designer and planners, coordinating all the engineers, and serving as a resource for the entire team. Hospital projects tend to have extensive teams, and Johnson developed a talent for managing these comprehensive projects.

Before Johnson's wife, Anne, passed away in 2019, the couple started preparing their estate plans. They worked with Anne's alma mater, Stephens College in Missouri, to establish an endowment in her name. Johnson also needed to decide how he would leave his impact.

"I asked myself, who has been helpful to me in my life and career?" said Johnson. "And, of course, the University of Houston architecture program stood out."

Johnson chose to create the Michael S. and Anne Johnson Endowed Visiting Lecture. The new endowment will support visiting lecturers, including practicing architects and emerging talent, who are experts in the discipline of architecture. As an architecture student at UH, there was no funding to bring visiting architects and lecturers. During his sophomore year, Philip Johnson was in Houston working with the Menils on the University of St. Thomas campus.

"Just by good luck, Howard Barnstone and Burdette Keeland knew Philip Johnson and were aware that he was in town working on a project," shared Johnson. "They asked Philip Johnson if he would come to the College and speak to the students."

Philip Johnson came to the College and visited with the students in a very unplanned and informal format. It was this moment that left a lasting impression on Mike Johnson and set the stage for his future legacy at the Hines College. ❑

OPPOSITE PAGE: Mike Johnson's gift will support a visiting lecture series to enhance students' education

Ways to Make a Planned Gift

1. Gifts by Will

2. Beneficiary Designations

3. Gifts That Pay You Income

4. Gifts That Protect Your Assets

5. Gifts from Retirement Plans

6. Gifts by Estate Note

For more information on setting up your planned gift or what assets to give, scan this QR Code or email giftplanning@uh.edu


Hines Alumni Won 2023

Houston PaperCity Design Awards

This spring, the PaperCity Design Awards kicked off Texas Design Week Houston honoring the work of designers and architects in the area. Hines College alumni and their teams' work will be featured in a special edition of the magazine in October 2023

Congratulations, Coogs!

Tiger Lyon, M.Arch ' 14

Kelie Mayfield, M.Arch. '08

Vivi Nguyen, B.Arch. ' 11

Lisa Pope Westerman, M.Arch. '01

Jared Wood, B.Arch. '98

Hines Alumni Honored at the 9th Annual Cougar 100

Recognizing the fastest-growing UH alumni-owned and operated businesses

THE UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON AND UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON ALUMNI ASSOCIATION HONORED OUTSTANDING UH ALUMNI OWNED AND OPERATED BUSINESSES IN AN EVENT FEBRUARY 13TH FOR THE 9TH annual Cougar 100 Awards. Every year, companies are ranked by the percentage of compound annual growth in sales or revenue across a three-year period with gross revenues above $250,000, and in business for five years or more.

The Cougar 100 awards seek to recognize growing and successful Cougar-run businesses, and connect alumni with fellow business owners supporting that “Cougars should be doing business with Cougars.” The Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design has become a staple of the Cougar 100 Awards, spotlighting its alumni’s success in industry.

For a complete listing of this year’s Cougar 100 recipients, visit the University of Houston Alumni Association. Hines College alumni recipients are highlighted below.




Element Architects is a growing Texas-based firm specializing in architecture and interiors. Their talented team has extensive experience in the education, multifamily, active adult, healthcare, mixed-use, and retail industries. EA strives to provide exceptional design services with a lasting positive impact.




Aria Signs is one of the fastest-growing signage companies in the city of Houston. The company designs, fabricates, and installs interior and exterior signage for major leading companies such as retail stores, restaurants, hospitals, shopping centers, and stadiums.




H4 Architects and Engineers provides full-service architecture and MEP engineering. They strive to exceed client expectations and develop longlasting relationships.



In 1985, Roger Philo and Dana Wilke created PhiloWilke Partnership, a firm with the specific expertise to react efficiently to the complex research and medical design needs of institutional, system, and academic clientele. Dedicated exclusively to you and your communities, the firm specializes in responsive design for technologically complex, interconnected healthcare and health science environments. Their design philosophy drives a process valuing collaboration, practical design, and strategic consensus-building to help their clients achieve their goals. —Stephen Schad


Melvalean McLemore Bestowed Ben Brewer Young Architect Award

Hines College alumna hopes to inspire future architects through volunteerism

THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS (AIA) HOUSTON chapter awarded University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design alumna Melvalean McLemore, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP (B.Arch. '09) its 2023 Ben Brewer Young Architect Award at the organization’s annual gala on May 20. The award recognizes excellence in ability, exceptional work, and significant architectural contributions by architects in their first ten years of practice.

In October 2022, McLemore received the 2022 award for Early Career Professional Achievement in Honor of William W. Caudill, FAIA, from the Texas Society of Architects (TxA) for advocating diversity through leadership. While McLemore is honored by her most recent award from the AIA Houston chapter, her desire to give back to the architecture and design community through volunteerism and activism outweighs her professional accolades.

"Having something that shows how you can be appreciated for doing architecture a different way and winning an award locally is important to me," said McLemore. "This is where a lot of my volunteerism started."

One program McLemore is most passionate about is the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) National HBCU Professional

Development Program, helping connect historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) students with some of the largest firms in the world through internships, mentors, and eventually full-time jobs.

In 2022, NOMA awarded nine grants to the students, and the organization hopes to exceed that number this year. NOMA is working to build a partnership with AIA National and has even received outreach from different companies, including Nike. McLemore believes that a commitment to improving representation within the industry must be intentional, and firm leaders must be committed to an outcome.

"I think there is still a great interest in firms seeing what comes from

broadening their spectrum in terms of welcoming diverse groups of people, whether it be gender, race or any other diversities, and seeing how it impacts firms overall,” she explained.

McLemore strongly encourages students to write down their accomplishments to avoid selfdoubt and stay focused on what they are doing well. She also advises students just entering the workforce to be adaptable because life is unpredictable. Students should get involved in professional organizations to network with likeminded individuals who can expose them to more things inside the field of architecture and design.

—Symone Daniels
"Having something that shows how you can be appreciated for doing architecture a different way and winning an award locally is important to me. This is where a lot of my volunteerism started."
Congratulations to Alyse Makerewicz ’97, president of AMB Architects and her team full of Hines College alumni. Jeylen Arteaga ’ 19 Steven Griffin ’23 Jesus Guillen ’22 Lauren Houser ’ 11 Katherine Marquez '08 Eric Trudelle ’ 19

Alumni Spotlight: Thomas Rusnak '90, '92

OPPOSITE PAGE: An aerial overview of the property

Bachelor of Environmental Design, Master

Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design? What drew you to design?

I lived in Houston at the time I chose UH. My dad was a builder, and my Mom was an artist, so it seemed natural.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time oncampus? Was there a particular professor who influenced your education?

Jay Baker, my first-year studio professor, had a tremendous influence on the designer I am today. Other professors, including Mac McManus, Bob Timme, John Zemanek, David Thaddeus, Peter Zwieg, and Bruce Webb, were simply amazing. I am incredibly grateful to have been mentored by this "dream team" of passionate professors and friends. They instilled in me the skills needed to solve the problem at hand and advance a solution to a new level of discovery.

What does a typical day look like in your job? Do you have a particular design or business philosophy?

A typical day for me starts around 5:00 a.m. I make some coffee and head to my studio, where I work on whatever current design project I have on the boards. Around 8:00 am, I go to the gym and work out for about an hour. I solve many design issues in my head when I have worked on the problem for some time, then remove myself from the issue and do something physical, like a workout, surfing, mowing the grass, or sometimes even driving to town. I believe it was Frank Lloyd Wright who said he always solves the design problem in his head before he ever puts pen to paper. He makes a strong point.

What is one career accomplishment of which you are particularly proud? How do you feel that the College prepared you for this?

I own and operate Art Farm, 16 acres on the slopes of Haleakala on Maui. The entire property is off-grid. We collect rain for our water supply, sun for our power, and use Starlink for our internet. The Farm consists of a large barn (studio) and several smaller studios throughout the wooded lot. For years, I would search for artists in an attempt to understand and enjoy their work. So, instead of me going to them, I decided to bring them to me. We provide free studio space for artists to interact with varied disciplines. We currently have a clay sculptor, painter, leather worker, tattoo artist, and wood sculptor. I spend my time working on various architecture projects, building furniture pieces, and maintaining the property.

What is one valuable lesson you learned during your time at the Hines College?

The most valuable lesson I learned at the Hines College was how to learn. John Zemanek – Z-man – was a master critical thinker and forced you to do the same. In addition, I learned there is always an obvious answer to a design problem, and then there is a better answer, and a better answer...etc. The question is, which answer do you present to the world?

What is a piece of advice you would give to current architecture and design students?

When I was in school in the late 80s to early 90s, there was an elitist attitude that architecture could change the world. Talk about undue pressure. Eisenman, Venturi Gehry, and others talked in circles about post-modern philosophy to a paralyzing end. Don’t get me wrong; I idolized these guys and many others. However, I believe their jargon-laden architecture did not advance the cause of "changing the world" but drove architecture out of reality for most. My advice would be to cherish the opportunity to design all things, no matter how small the project might be. Give each project the same attention, be it a table, a tiny house, or 10,000 square foot building. Be a positive influence in the life of the person you are designing for, and have fun doing it. There is rarely a greater reward.

"My advice would be to cherish the opportunity to design all things, no matter how small the project might be. Give each project the same attention, be it a table, a tiny house, or 10,000 square foot building."
pool and one of the stuios

Alumni Spotlight: Kelly Robichau '06

Name: Kelly Robichau

Hometown: Houston

Major: Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Graduation Year: 2006

Employer: MD Anderson Cancer Center

Title: Manager, Facilities Information/BIM

Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design? What drew you to design? I was always sketching floor plans growing up. Around second grade, I started drawing elaborate plans on the chalkboard in our backyard treehouse. The houses in elevation had around eight chimneys, so I went all out with no value engineering involved. I went through the whole LEGO phase, as well. After completing the Wonderworks and Hines College Summer Experience Design Program for high school students, my curiosity took off. I was exposed to studio projects, attended field trips to architectural sites, and, for the first time, was surrounded by a group of peers asking questions about spatial relationships and materials. It was inspiring to participate in the program. At that moment, I knew architecture was a profession I wanted to pursue.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time oncampus? Was there a particular professor who influenced your education?

Several professors contributed to my education in different ways. Celeste Williams and Rob Civitello set the foundation of curiosity during my first year. Without a doubt they had a huge impact. Bill Neuhaus, in our 4th year studio, asked our class if we could visualize three-dimensionally. He said, "In your mind, how many of you can 'put' yourself on top of that cabinet and look

down on the class?" The skill of visualizing beyond right in front of you has enormously aided my career. Leonard Bachman introduced us to the complexities of a building yet strived for us to maintain purpose and meaning with our projects. His wife, Christine, was one of my psychology professors at UH. Together, they fostered a thought process that 'combined' my two degrees where I learned pratical methodologies. Psychology made me a better architecture student, and vice versa.

Andrew Vrana’s studio was innovative – new, different, and fun – and even included a class field trip to Marfa, Texas, providing a rich experience for us as we began our architecture careers.

What does a typical day look like in your job? Do you have a particular design or business philosophy?

Having just started in June 2022 , my MD Anderson Cancer Center role is still pretty new. For the past few months, I have been in the information-gathering phase assessing the current state of the Facilities Information/BIM division and conducting 1: 1 meetings with leadership to understand their scope and department responsibilities.

I was brought on board to help implement BIM workflows and standards aiding facility and asset lifecycle maintenance. A critical piece has been to pace myself and establish a solid foundation to build from, and move forward from there. It has been incredible to be a part of the team and I look forward to the work ahead.

Before MD Anderson, I worked at Kendall-Heaton Associates (KHA), an architect-of-record firm, for 15 years.


KHA was my first job out of school. After years of project support, I became a Project Manager for commercial and high-rise projects. Most of my days were spent working in Revit, coordinating with design and engineering consultants and other project stakeholders from design development through construction administration. I am very grateful for the expert mentors I had over the years at KHA. With such immense technical knowledge and experience, they got us through some of the toughest challenges. I learned that tough jobs allowed for the most professional growth.

My business philosophy is to lead by example and always show genuine appreciation.

What is one career accomplishment of which you are particularly proud? How do you feel that the College prepared you for this?

The College prepared me to work at a firm right out of school. I had a baseline skillset and a portfolio to get me in the door. Upon graduation, I had three offers, one of which was at KHA. My skillset helped to interpret construction drawings and, later, create them – starting with my first high-rise project, Devon Energy Headquarters in Oklahoma City, and then Northwestern Mutual Headquarters in Milwaukee. For my professional journey, these defined what it meant to have high design standards and high-quality construction documents.

More recently, I served as one of the project managers for the new Hines Global Headquarters in downtown Houston. It was my first interior architecture project (verses Core and Shell). It was very detail-oriented; coordination with contractor was key. Very proud that I could contribute to this important, and beautiful, project.

I am most proud of my work on the Golden State Arena Complex. This was the first stadium project for KHA, so to be a part of it was quite an incredible opportunity. The team had to pull together and meet tremendous deadlines. We managed multiple Revit models at one time. This project was a tough one, but I grew the most coming out of it.

What is one valuable lesson you learned during your time at the Hines College?

Communication. The Hines College fostered a culture where doors were open, professors were accessible, and classmates almost always worked alongside you, no matter the hour, exchanging ideas. The ability to communicate is a skill that begins way before you step into an architecture firm. Early in my career, I noticed my supervisor’s emails were typically around three sentences. He would use concise sentences, yet he could do so because his understanding of the issue was clear. I think there is something important about brevity in communication.

Another lesson I learned was that the people at the Hines College are special. I met my husband Emilio in the computer lab! I was a fourth-year undergraduate student, and he was getting his masters. This past December, we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.

What is a piece of advice you would give to current architecture and design students?

Stay curious! Sometimes curiosity leads you to the hard questions. Staying curious might open that new door or lead to changing the status quo. Pair curiosity with resilience, and you are good to go. Architecture has many paths to follow; stay true to your curiosities, and they can help lead the way.

"Staying curious might open that new door or lead to changing the status quo. Pair curiosity with resilience, and you are good to go. Architecture has many paths to follow; stay true to your curiosities, and they can help lead the way."
OPPOSITE PAGE: An interior of the Hines Globl Headquarters in downtown Houston, which Robichau oversaw ABOVE: A photo of the Golden State Arena Complex construction, one of Robichau's proudest accomplishments

Alumni Spotlight: Amanda Mendler '08


Name: Amanda Mendler

Hometown: San Antonio

Major: Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design; Bachelor of Architecture

Graduation Year: 2008

Employer: Kirksey

Title: Senior Associate

Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design? What drew you to design?

When I first expressed my interest in architecture school to my grandfather, he revealed that our family is related to Edison Oberholtzer, the first president of the University of Houston (although the lineage escapes me). UH felt like a natural home to pursue my degree in architecture; after all, I am an Oberholtzer.

I always created when I was younger, and as I grew up, I learned that my family is rooted in architecture and art. My great grandfather, Shirley Simons, was a notable architect in Tyler, Texas, in the 1930s, and my aunt Lydia is an incredible artist and architect. After an architectural drafting class in high school, I was determined to follow in my family’s footsteps.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time on campus? Was there a particular professor who influenced your education?

Time spent in the studio is unlike any other experience one can find on a college campus. There is a camaraderie with your classmates that cannot be replicated elsewhere. My favorite memory on campus was hearing my bonus dad, who is also an architect, yell, “We love you, Amanda!” from the fourth-floor atrium of the architecture building as I walked the stage during graduation. Every year, I purposely signed up for studio professors with varying architectural perspectives –pragmatic, conceptual, and even space architecture. I particularly enjoyed Dietmar Froehlich’s studio based on the relationship between film and architecture.

What does a typical day look like in your job? Do you have a particular design or business philosophy?

My work days always start the same way – coffee, always coffee. More recently, however, my days begin with an inbox full of emails regarding the UH Hilton project. We are nearing the end of construction and wrapping up all the loose ends and details. Working closely with contractors on site daily provides an opportunity to understand how buildings go together in a way you cannot get from detailing conditions in your drawing package. The most complex problems presented on-site can often be solved by taking a step back, remembering the fundamentals, and finding a simple solution.

What is one career accomplishment of which you are particularly proud? How do you feel that the College prepared you for this?

I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to work on the University of Houston Hilton as part of my new role on the hospitality team. I was not only completing work for my alma mater, but the project type was right

in my wheelhouse with renovation scope. I have also had the incredible opportunity to work on the Texas Capitol Complex Mall & Garage in Austin for the Texas Facilities Commission. It is hard to fathom what impact the spaces I have helped create will have on countless visitors to Texas in the future. My studio classes made me think about how the end user experiences the spaces we create. Small gestures can make significant impacts. Not only is the destination important, but how you get there is just as impactful.

What is one valuable lesson you learned during your time at the Hines College?

One of the most valuable lessons I learned at Hines College is that, as Louis Sullivan coined, form follows function. The concept that the building form should primarily relate to its intended program can be applied to so many other functions of architecture. Architects often get lost in complex building details and problems, yet often the solution is as simple as form follows function.

What is a piece of advice you would give to current architecture and design students?

Architecture school is the time to let your imagination lead the way. Take a step away from the computer, away from technology, and just draw. Scribble. Doodle. Use your entire roll of trace paper. Refrain from letting your concept dilute due to the tendency to fit the problem into an orthogonal box dictated by X and Y. Do not lose the art of architecture. Oh, and sleep; there is a point of diminishing returns when you are awake all night. I promise that with some quality sleep, your brain will function better.

"I learned that my family is rooted in architecture and art ... After an architectural drafting class in high school, I was determined to follow in my family’s footsteps."
OPPOSITE PAGE: A rendering of the UH Hilton, a project Mendler was thrilled to be a part of BELOW: A photo of the completed building earlier this spring

Alumni Spotlight: Vanessa Ortega '08

Name: Vanessa Ortega

Hometown: Lubbock, Texas

Major: Master of Architecture

Graduation Year: 2008

Employer: Loe Ortega Architecture

Title: Principal

Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design? What drew you to design?

From a very young age, I was interested in architecture and design, particularly the combination of art, design, and practicality. I went to Texas A&M University for undergraduate studies and participated in the Gensler summer studio in Houston. The professor also taught at the University of Houston and spoke highly of the Hines College’s graduate program. Many of us from the Gensler studio went on to study at the University of Houston.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time on campus? Was there a particular professor who influenced your education?

My favorite memories involve collaborating and building friendships with fellow classmates. Architecture classes,

as well as the profession in general, can sometimes feel all-consuming. When you enjoy what you do and have people who support you and share the experience, navigating the challenges and celebrating the victories are most rewarding.

Like so many other students, I enjoyed professor John Zemanek’s class. He inspired students to read about design and philosophy, think for themselves, and ask questions.

What does a typical day look like in your job? Do you have a particular design or business philosophy?

My days can vary greatly, but my typical week consists of meetings, with teams to run through projects, consultants and clients, and our bookkeeper to review invoicing. Other activities include redlining, discussing designs, writing proposals, and making time for networking and volunteer events.

Our collaborative design and business philosophy emphasize learning and mentoring. As a small firm, each person wears many hats, so the key is balancing


exposure to new projects, designs, and procedures while providing adequate training and support.

What is one career accomplishment of which you are particularly proud? How do you feel that the College prepared you for this?

Starting my own company has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences. As we celebrate our fourth year in business, I am proud of my team and what we have accomplished, primarily through some challenging years. Many professors in the College were also working professionals. Their stories and industry experience helped paint a picture of what to expect from the industry.

What is one valuable lesson you learned during your time at the Hines College?

Time management and communication. I worked while attending graduate school, so balancing college and work deadlines were very important. Learning how to present projects and answer questions during jury panels was also important. Clear communication is crucial when discussing designs with clients and speaking to engineers, consultants, or reviewers.

What is a piece of advice you would give to current architecture and design students?

I would tell students that it is always early enough to build their brand and voice. Find and participate in organizations that inspire you, whether inside or outside architecture. Architectural education can lead to careers in a variety of different professions. You must network and establish connections with mentors who can guide you.

"Starting my own company has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences. As we celebrate our fourth year in business, I am proud of my team and what we have accomplished."
CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Harlow District rendering; Bluestone Lane interior; and 3334 Richmond interior

Summing it Up with Architecture Office

International architecture studio work with Hines College students on the themes of New Glarus

THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A close-up of some models in the Mashburn Gallery; a view of the exhibition signage; students gather to put finishing touches on the exhibition

OPPOSITE PAGE: A detail shot of a model in the exhibition

THIS SEMESTER, THE "HINES DESIGN AS SCHOLAR/ SCHOLAR AS DESIGN" INITIATIVE KICKED OFF WITH The Sum of Its Parts exhibition in March (read about the initiative on page 7 ). The show featured the work of Hines College students in three undergrad research studios featuring Architecture Office founders Jonathan Louie and Nicole McIntosh.

Inspired by the Swiss theme code of New Glarus, the exhibition features fourteen study models and fourteen corner assembly models built using found model kit parts of alpine buildings, as well as seven drawings of chalet elements and fourteen drawings of their respective arrangements. "Similar to interpreting the strict stylistic guidelines set by New Glarus, students in the studio worked with model kits from the

’Switzerland’ series by Gebr. FALLER GmbH. The first day in studio, when the student received their kits, might have been the most exciting moment of the semester," said Louie.

McIntosh added, "Over the semester, the students' design interpretations were surprising and delightful. By displaying all of their models, the exhibition gives the visitor insight into the complex and multivalent applications of the New Glarus guidelines."

Through showing the Swiss chalet in a variety of ways, the students' works show that learning from New Glarus goes beyond Swiss or American architecture while exploring a design methodology for the multiple and evolving forms of a significant building type. —Nicholas Nguyen

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.