The Texas Society of Architects is pleased to announce our 2021 Honor Awards. These awards recognize exceptional members, firms, individuals, and organizations for outstanding achievements in support of the profession of architecture, the built environment, and quality of life in Texas. Recipients will be recognized at our upcoming 82nd Annual Conference and Design Expo, happening in San Antonio on October 7–9. Congratulations to all the honorees!

Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Honor of Llewellyn W. Pitts FAIA
David Richter, FAIA, and Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA
Corpus Christi

Partners in life and work for over four decades, David Richter, FAIA, and Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, have made an indelible mark on the architectural profession and the state of Texas. Their firm, Richter Architects, is a globally recognized design and sustainability leader whose work reflects intrinsic natural beauty, function, and cultural pride. Together, they’ve dedicated countless hours over 30 years to nonprofit groups, city planning agencies, and local organizations. They have also both served as presidents of their local chapter and the Texas Society of Architects, championing several programs, including The Shape of Texas, Tour des Monuments, and the Consortium for Sustainability. Chu Richter was the 2015 president of the American Institute of Architects; she was the fourth woman, the first woman from Texas, and first Asian American woman to serve in that role.

Architecture Firm Award

Established by Fernando Brave, FAIA, in 2002, BRAVE/architecture is multidisciplinary firm that nurtures the free flow of ideas between education and practice. The firm’s designs are characterized by clarity, resolution, and honest detailing of materials. Their award-winning projects include Recenter, the Sicardi Gallery, and the De Santos Gallery in Houston, and New Horizon Family Center and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Hall in Baytown. Firm principals Brave and Christian Sheridan, AIA, teach design studios at the University of Houston and have supported TxA and their local chapter through various board leadership roles. Their firm has completed many pro-bono projects on their own and through national forums and champions a culture of mentoring the next generation of architects. 

O’Neil Ford Medal for Design Achievement
Mark T. Wellen, FAIA

Mark T. Wellen, FAIA, is principal of Rhotenberry Wellen Architects in Midland. He was elevated to Fellowship in 2014. The Ford medal jury commented the following on his selection: “His remarkable body of work represents a consistent exploration and development of regional ideas and idioms taken from careful observation of the landscape and the structures located there. The resulting work expresses a unique and highly personal vocabulary in service to making exceptional spaces, all enriched by rigorous detailing.” Wellen’s projects vary in typology and size and range from ranch shelters and residences to museums and downtown office towers. Among his award-winning designs are Cinco Camp, Sombreada Hasta, the Burns Residence, and Ranch Shelter.

Award for Community Service in Honor of James D. Pfluger FAIA
Milton E. Hime, AIA

Founding principal of Studio8, Milton E. Hime, AIA, has assisted more than 25 nonprofits in 25 years. His early community work was volunteer-oriented — Housing Resources Association, Hands on Housing, Habitat for Humanity — but for almost three decades now, he has demonstrated a more rigorous commitment through mostly pro-bono design and placemaking work for basic needs, child development, faith, and public organizations. He’s worked on projects for nonprofits like Caritas of Austin, the Central Texas Food Bank, and People’s Community Clinic (PCC), often serving on their governance boards and capital campaign committees. Hime worked with PCC for 18 years, helping them select a new site, design their facility, develop the budget, generate fundraising, and finally as a board member.

Award for Equitable Practice in Architecture in Honor of John S. Chase Jr. FAIA
Darren L. James, FAIA

As president of KAI, Darren L. James, FAIA, has built a staff reflective of his commitment to inclusion (30% minority; 45% women) and a firm founded on the conviction that a diverse talented team is crucial to transforming communities. For 41 years, the firm has focused on designing for under-resourced neighborhoods, such as Fair Park and South Oak Cliff in Dallas, working tirelessly to engage resident stakeholders to make a lasting impact. James challenges his peers to implement their own EDI programs and mentors friends and colleagues to embrace and excel in the profession with these principles. He is also a civic leader promoting equity and inclusion through roles such as president of Fair Park First, chair of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, and co-chair of the mayor’s Economic Recovery Committee. 

Award for Young Professional Achievement in Honor of William W. Caudill FAIA
Sophia Razzaque, AIA

Sophia Razzaque, AIA, is an associate at Lake|Flato Architects and a leader at AIA Austin. As Design Awards chair for the chapter, she implemented a sustainability scorecard for entries; as Practice commissioner, she initiated the “Commissioner Roadshow” to get people from large firms more involved; and as leader of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Task Force, she has organized readings, trainings, and the creation of JEDI guidelines for committee chairs. Razzaque is also one of the founders of the Central Texas NOMA chapter and a member of TxA’s Publications Committee. She’s served as adjunct faculty at UTSA, teaching studios on historic injustices in Central San Antonio and public-private partnerships. Her project Hotel Magdalena won a 2021 Design Award of Excellence from AIA Austin.

Associate Member of the Year
Dennis Chiessa, Assoc. AIA
Fort Worth

Dennis Chiessa, Assoc. AIA, is a rising leader through ongoing involvement with his local chapter, TxA, and the Fort Worth community. He currently serves on the boards of AIA FW, as director-at-large, and Community Design Fort Worth, as the AIA representative helping to shape the city’s future form alongside city officials. Chiessa founded the chapter’s Latinos in Architecture group and has chaired it since 2017, organizing the PERSPECTIVAS FW design competition and numerous LiA exhibitions, including those at recent TxA conferences. At TxA, Chiessa has served on the EDI, Community Engaged Design, and Convention Futures committees. He is a full-time instructor at the UTA College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs and an award-winning designer and researcher focusing on spatial equity and social awareness.

Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Architecture through the Media in Honor of John G. Flowers Hon. AIA
Herman Ellis Dyal, FAIA

With roots in architecture, Herman Ellis Dyal, FAIA, took his talent and pushed into other disciplines, including branding, graphic design, communication, art direction, and advertising. His achievements include: promoting architecture, design, and the arts, such as though his prodigious body of work for the Rice Design Alliance in the ’80s and the creation of PechaKucha Night Austin; collaborating with architects to weave together architectural expression and graphic imagery; and redefining wayfinding through a seminal project at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He’s created architectural guidebooks for various Texas cities for AIA National and AIA Austin. He also developed the most recent brand identity for TxA and Texas Architect magazine. Dyal was a founding principal of Dyal and Partners and a principal at Page/Dyal.

Mentorship Award 
Women in Architecture Network

One of the most dynamic networks at AIA Dallas, Women in Architecture is an invaluable resource for the chapter’s young female members. In 2017, the group started the EMPOWERING conference to inspire, promote, and encourage female membership, and the event quickly expanded from a half-day to full-day event that has served over 500 participants to date. WiA hosts speed mentoring mixers and with a variety of events to fill the need for one-on-one conversations and networking, and recently introduced a scholarship program. AIA National has made a commitment to move justice as well as racial and gender equity from aspiration to action, and WiA is showing a remarkable way to put those goals into practice. 

Artisan Award
Christian Klein

The founder of Drophouse Design, Christian Klein is an architectural fabricator with a background in naval architecture, a Master’s in the field, and several years of experience in architectural practice. He’s worked on hundreds of projects ranging from custom residential and high-design commercial and hospitality to large-scale public art installations and specialty engineered operable systems. He has fabricated wood and metal work for projects including the Living Wall at UT Austin, Jewell Box by Mell Lawrence Architects, and ATX Cocina by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. He’s also contributed to AIA Austin with buildouts for event installations and has worked on every Waterloo Greenway Creek Show since 2014, helping to actualize many of the light-based designs, including several of his own collaborations. 

Honorary Membership
Jill Magnuson, Hon. AIA Dallas
Director of External Affairs, Nasher Sculpture Center

Jill Magnuson, Hon. AIA Dallas, has spent 20 years working alongside architects and planners to highlight exceptional design while making the process more accessible to the public. As director of external affairs for the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation, she communicated the design narrative for new venues, including the Winspear Opera House and Wyly Theater; as a board member of the AIA Dallas Foundation, she helped conceptualize and create the Dallas Center for Architecture (now AD EX); and at the Nasher, she has had an ongoing role in the resolution of the reflectivity issues affecting the museum’s daylighting system. Magnuson is a founding member of the CityLab High School Foundation board and the Dallas Arts District organization.

Honorary Membership
Mitchell Milby, Hon. AIA Dallas
Founder and Principal, Milby

Mitchell Milby, Hon. AIA Dallas, is an attorney focused on the construction industry who has long championed causes for architects and architecture in Texas. He is the founder of Milby, a law firm devoted to the representation of design professionals, and an AIA Professional Affiliate. In addition to providing legal counsel for many architect clients, he has shown a deep commitment to educating architects and engineers on issues such as corporate matters, copyright protection, documentation safeguards, and contract drafting/negotiation. He shares this knowledge via writing and speaking opportunities with AIA at the national, state, and local levels. He’s served on numerous AIA Dallas committees and has been an important part of the chapter’s legislative efforts.

25-Year Award
Carraro Residence (1990)
Lake|Flato Architects

The Carraro house near Kyle is a primary source of what is now recognized as the Texas architectural vernacular. The architects had long admired the aesthetics of the 1920s Alamo Cement Plant in San Antonio, and a client on a tight budget gave them the opportunity to salvage part of the complex. They dismantled and relocated an eight-bay steel-frame shed and cut it into three pavilions, overlaying them with industrial elements and local materials. The Z-shaped plan included a central building, clad in a galvanized skin, with a bedroom and study; a screened volume enclosing a stone kitchen and living area; and a covered parking for cars and tractors that now houses a pool. The current owners use the home as a retreat for friends and family and make it available to the public for vacation and event rentals.

Architectural Landmark Award
Little Chapel-in-the-Woods (1939)
O’Neil Ford and Arch Swank with associate architect
Preston M. Geren Architects and Engineers

This non-denominational chapel on the Texas Woman’s University campus in Denton is considered the ultimate realization of Ford’s vision for architecture to be contemporary but also of a specific place or culture. A masterpiece of architectural regionalism, the masonry building featured engineering innovation in the parabolic load-bearing brick arches leading toward the altar, and reveals an astonishing level of traditional detail, including stained glass windows, metal and ceramic light fixtures, and a multitude of other handcrafted elements. The chapel was designed as part of the National Youth Administration program, which aimed to give jobs to young people: Students, under the direction of artisans from around the country, constructed the windows, pews, altar pieces, bronze doors, and mosaics.

Leave a Comment