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Firm Award: Richter Architects

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from its local chapter and seven from the Texas Society of Architects. In 1995, the firm earned its first national design award, the Design for Transportation Honor Award sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation in association with the National Endowment for the Arts, for a series of sculptural bus shelters. Subsequently, the firm received a national AIA Honor Award for Architecture for a Texas Department of Transportation rest area and four national Brick in Architecture Awards for other projects. Asked recently to define their practice, David Richter said: “While our firm has been fortunate to have earned a few project commissions that presented extraordinary design opportunity, most of our projects are quite common. We try to

(top) The staff of Richter Architects gathered in the firm’s Corpus Christi office for a group portrait. (above) The TxDOT Brooks County Safety Rest Area garnered the firm’s first AIA Honor Award for Architecture, as well as a 1998 Design Award from the Texas Society of Architects.

look for special opportunities embedded in the commonplace, and believe that every decision has a design dimension.” And what advice might they offer a young firm striving one day to achieve the Firm Award? “Stay engaged,” counsels Elizabeth Chu Richter. “Making a difference is a combination of keeping sight on the long view while humbly serving your clients and community each day.” T A

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Photos by David Richter, FAIA

In spite of being based in out-of-the-way Corpus Christi, Richter Architects has consistently produced award-winning work over three decades while also striving for the betterment of the profession through influential participation in the American Institute of Architects. For its exemplary contributions at all levels of the AIA and within its local community, the Texas Society of Architects has recognized Richter Architects with its 2011 Firm Award. The award was presented on Oct. 28 during the Society’s 72nd Annual Convention in Dallas. 



 Richter A rchitects traces its lineage to the firm of Kipp & Winston Architects where newlyweds David Richter and Elizabeth Chu Richter worked after moving to Corpus Christi in 1975. The firm evolved to Kipp/Winston/ Richter Architects in 1979 when newly licensed architect David Richter became a partner with Robert Kipp and Lloyd Winston and while Elizabeth Chu Richter balanced full-time motherhood with part-time design collaboration. After Winston left the firm in 1982 to pursue other ventures, the firm was renamed Kipp-Richter Architects. With Kipp’s masterbuilder perspective and Richters’ desig n energy, the firm began to build the culture and philosophy that characterizes its current practice. Another important person in the firm’s history was Samuel Morris, whose attention to details in documents and on the jobsite helped the emerging firm build a reputation for excellence. In 1989, only two months after Elizabeth Chu Richter rejoined the firm full time, Kipp died suddenly, leaving the firm in the hands of its young leaders. Subsequently, Elizabeth was named CEO in 1993 and the firm was renamed Richter Architects. Today the firm employs 16 full-time staff, all of whom have a long history of volunteering within their community. In addition, both David Richter, FAIA, and Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, have served as president of the Texas Society of Architects, as well as other state-level leadership posts, and Elizabeth Chu Richter currently represents the Society on the national AIA Board of Directors. Richter A rchitects actively embraces a generalist practice engaged in a broad range of building types, some which are typically serviced by specialist firms. Over the firm’s 30-year history, its work has routinely been rewarded for design excellence, including 28 design awards


Texas Architect Nov/Dec 2011: Arts & Science