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Final Draft The Big Idea Parting reflections and a fond farewell from TA’s most recent long-term editor by Stephen Sharpe, Hon. AIA

Stephen Sharpe, Hon. AIA, has left the editorship of Texas Architect after an extended period of service that began in June, 2000.

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” – Daniel Burnham (1846-1912)


fter almost 12 years at the helm of Texas Architect, I see even more clearly the truth in Burnham’s oftquoted assertion. Having worked so long with architects on articles about topics important to them, I understand the power of the big idea. That’s what drives the project, the impetus that transforms the concept into physical reality. Big ideas, I’ve learned, are essential to the architect. So for more than a decade I’ve seen my job as helping architects explain those big ideas, to make them accessible to a broad audience of design-savvy readers. My big idea for Texas Architect throughout my tenure has been to create a forum for an open dialogue among design professionals. To accomplish that, I’ve reached out to architects and like-minded individuals around the state to take assignments rather than relying on the magazine’s limited editorial staff or hiring journalists to produce the articles. For each project or news story or essay, I’ve taken care in choosing writers based on their experience with a specific building type or knowledge of a certain topic. (Not infrequently, would-be writers proposed to submit an article about something that especially interested them. However, that submission often never materialized; but if they followed through, their article usually made it into print.) Part of the fun was finding the right place for all those separate pieces. The ideal edition of Texas Architect, in my opinion, provided a multi-dimensional portrait of the architecture profession as practiced in the state at that time. Bringing together those various voices into harmony required a little editorial finesse, but the outcome typically yielded a successful issue. Of course, that success also depended on highquality photography, the expertise of TA’s art director — three cheers for Julie Pizzo! — and all the daily staff support that makes a magazine possible. More often than not, the big idea worked out.

Looking back, I can’t help but feel immense pride in the success Texas Architect has achieved during my stint as its editor. Texas Architect has long been regarded as one of the best publications of its type. Ultimately, it’s the members of the Texas Society of Architects – you, dear reader – who deserve the accolades for supporting Texas Architect through their dues, which helps keep TA financially sound (with an assist from

That’s what drives the project, the impetus that transforms the concept into physical reality. Big ideas, I’ve learned, are essential to the architect. its advertisers and non-member subscribers) and editorially independent to articulate those big ideas to as large an audience as possible. for the last time, I’d like to express my deep appreciation to the many volunteers who have helped make Texas Architect much more than just an association magazine. Those include the members of the Publications Committee, TA’s contributing editors, and others who have written articles for nothing more in return than a byline. I’ve enjoyed having such a fount of knowledge and experience to draw from as I planned my 71 issues. I also wish to thank Larry Paul Fuller, who was invited to serve as guest editor of this edition and to bridge the gap during the search for Texas Architect’s next editor. As the former editor of TA (1973 to 1985), Larry fully understands the magazine, its readership, and the magic necessary to convey the big idea. Before I sign off

brings that work to an end. I’ve been lucky to have this extended opportunity to serve as the editor of Texas Architect, easily the most demanding of my career but at the same time the most gratifying. Now it’s time for someone else to grapple with the challenges that come with the position and to enjoy the many rewards of a job well done.


For me, this edition

5/6 2012

Texas Architect 7

Texas Architect May/June 2012: Urban Design  
Texas Architect May/June 2012: Urban Design  

This “Urban Design” edition’s four features do not deal with urban design as typified by comprehensive plans for large swaths of urban envir...