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    Brantley Hightower, AIA (far left), and Anastasia Calhoun, Assoc. AIA, NOMA (far right), at the TxA Publications Committee retreat in Marfa. - photo by Sarah M. Vasquez

You Say Goodbye…

Back in the early days of the Roman Republic, the term “dictator” did not have the negative connotation it possesses today. Although the Roman Senate was a great leap forward in the evolution of representational democracy, the deliberative body had its limits — especially when swift action was needed in times of crisis. Such was the case in 458 B.C. when Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was plowing the fields of his farm and was approached by a group of senators. They informed him that invaders from the west were threatening the young republic and that he, Cincinnatus, had been appointed dictator of Rome.

If the story is to be believed (and according to most historians, it shouldn’t be, entirely), Cincinnatus left his plow in the field, donned his senatorial toga, and assumed complete control over Rome. After successfully repelling the foreign invasion, he voluntarily relinquished his power and returned to his farm to finish his plowing.

Regardless of its historical accuracy, I was reminded of this story as I doffed my editorial toga and handed control of Texas Architect to my successor. As I did so, I could imagine what Cincinnatus was feeling. Similar to ruling Rome, the trappings of power associated with editing a bimonthly trade periodical are both vast and seductive. But even with the support of a dedicated staff and the contributions of a talented pool of writers, it’s a ton of work. It’s a full-time job, and I’m looking forward to having one less plate to spin as I tend the fields of my architectural practice.

Editing this magazine has been both a pleasure and an honor. I hope history will view my short dictatorial rule with kindness. But even if no statues are erected in my honor, I’ll always look back on the past five issues with fondness.

Brantley Hightower, AIA, served as interim editor of Texas Architect from July 2021 through March 2022.

… I Say Hello

My first encounter with Texas Architect was late one night during graduate school, through a pile of magazines thrown on a large, wooden, banquet-style table in the lobby of Goldsmith Hall at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. My decision to enter the architectural field had come in my 30s, after a stint working abroad had opened my eyes to other ways of living in the world. Sustainability was on my mind, and architecture was paradoxically central to the equation, occupying a nebulous space as both problem and solution. TA quickly became a resource and compass for me as I explored what it meant to design for climate in the Central Texas region.

Over a decade later, when the opportunity to take on the editorship of this magazine first emerged as a possibility, I sought advice from a professional confidant who also straddled the worlds of architecture and writing — Lance Hosey, FAIA. As I weighed the options of returning to a firm or serving as editor, he unequivocally said: “Take the job as editor. I would.” In the next breath, he pitched a story to me on little-known design aspects of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems in Austin. I passed the pitch along to Brantley Hightower, AIA, and he penciled Lance in to write a feature story for this issue of TA that you are reading now. That was the last time Lance and I spoke before his sudden, unexpected passing in August.

I knew of Lance and his sustainability advocacy work before I met him. He was a beautiful orator, having a presence and command of language that is rare. When we met, it clicked. We were both on nontraditional career paths, trying to find our places in the world — kindred spirits (though I suspect Lance had many people in his life in whom he inspired this same feeling). I didn’t know him well or for long but felt we were cut from the same cloth, hopeless idealists trying to make the world just a little bit better. 

Lance was a relentless trailblazer. It’s not an easy path. I’ve so badly wanted to seek his advice over the last several months. But as I’ve thought of him, his contributions, and his general approach to life, I’m reminded of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s words:

Say who you are. Really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be. But more importantly, if you are honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in your world because that person will recognize him or herself in you — and that will give them hope.… Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work.

Lance was unapologetically himself, and he asked the same of others, finding value in our differences. He was an advocate for women in the profession, not only on the podium but in subtle ways too, holding a metaphorical door open for others to walk through. He saw how the world could work differently. He gave me hope. 

Now, less than a year later, I have assumed the role as editor of the publication I have admired for so long, editing the remembrances of a man — instead of his article — who left a lasting impression on me in the short time I knew him. Life is funny that way. I hope I can do him the small honor of not only articulating the poetry of architecture and the immense responsibility that comes with it, but also holding open a door for others who need it — and maybe, in the process, the world will become a little less lonely.

Anastasia Calhoun, Assoc. AIA, is the new editor of Texas Architect.


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