Recently, AIA announced the recipients of its annual Associates award, which recognizes outstanding leaders and creative thinkers for significant contributions to their communities and the architecture profession. Michael Friebele, Assoc. AIA, of Dallas was one of those honored.
Formerly of CallisonRTKL and now a senior associate at FTA Design Studio, Friebele also recently chaired AIA Dallas’ Design Awards Committee. He attended Kansas State University and was influenced by Professor Torgeir Norheim. “He was a professor that I had twice during school, and he was just this Mick Jagger looking guy that didn’t really say much,” says Friebele. “He always had this distinctive clank of the boots so you knew he was coming by, but he always made you think completely out of the box. His advice was to ‘never stop playing in the sandbox.’ Having a childlike tendency when going forward in your career is a powerful thing. You’re going to mess up sometimes and you’re going to be good sometimes.
Friebele started at FTA Design Studio in January, working on projects in Mexico and Peru. He also started teaching a class in SMU’s Master of Art and Design Innovation program, focusing on a cross section of downtown Dallas. The course asks, “How do you map and index the things you come across — not just physical things but events that have happened.”
As chair of his chapter’s Design Awards Committee (just the second associate in its 50-year history), Friebele was able to learn from a wide cross-section of architects. The experience, he says, was invaluable for a young designer. “You get a lot of close one-on-one interaction from the judges that come in — you see design from a lot of different points of view. It’s been an incredible group to work with.” He notes that the most rewarding aspect of his time on the committee has been the relationships he has built.
Friebele also writes for Texas Architect and has recently joined the Publication Committee. One of his favorite stories to work on was his recent piece about the Sanger-Harris mosaics in Dallas. “Being able to meet with one of the first female architects in Dallas, who worked on it as her intern project—it was very impactful for me to give her the credit she deserved but never really got,” he says. “Seeing all of the people who came out of the woodwork to comment on the murals showed how a building that might seem insignificant can touch people’s lives.”
What’s next for Friebele? Licensure.