“Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”
— Art Buchwald
I don’t know about you, but I completely sympathize with the people who say, “Since the start of the COVID pandemic, I have lost track of time.” Some people felt that time moved more slowly during the shutdown, but ever since, it seems to have moved along at lightning speed. During my year serving as president of the Texas Society of Architects, time has certainly performed in the latter manner. In our efforts to lead the board and the Society, we have continued the valuable work performed by those before us, initiated new efforts to address important issues, and hopefully prepared the Society for next year’s leaders to bring us into the future, all within “the only time we’ve got.”
The board does not operate in isolated one-year cycles but as a continuum of thought and effort. And presidents do not act alone but as one of many minds leading the Society. I am grateful to have followed the strong leadership of 2021 President Audrey Maxwell, AIA, who was steadfast in not only following bylaws but also questioning processes that we follow just because things have always been done that way. I am also grateful to this year’s Executive Committee for coming together and sharing knowledge and insight to address the challenges before us. President-Elect Nicki Marrone, AIA, Secretary Anita Weber, AIA, Treasurer Eric Brooks, AIA, and Vice Presidents Derwin Broughton, AIA, Krystyn Haecker, AIA, Qeturah Williams, AIA, and Darren Heine, AIA, have all served with thoughtful dedication. None of our work could have happened without the incredible staff that we have in Austin under the leadership of Executive Vice President Jennifer Briggs. It is with such a collaborative team that TxA focused this year on several efforts that related to our strategic plan goals.
These are as follows. We:
- Continued our dedication to a more diverse profession through support of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and conscious efforts of the Nomination Committee to broaden our call for leadership.
- Discussed the preparedness of our profession for the phenomenal growth which we are experiencing in Texas.
- Stressed the urgency of making our communities more resilient through good sustainable design practices.
- Created a task force to determine nd recommend resources that TxA can use to inform the public about how architects provide benefit in the planning and design of the built environment.
- Created a task force to identify quality professional development opportunities that address the needs of architects at each stage of the profession.
It is our hope this work will refine our current strategic plan and be a part of the ongoing continuum that is so important to the work of our profession.
At the beginning of 2022, we saw ourselves as passing to the other side of the COVID crisis, but this year has brought its own issues. Disagreement over what personal rights should include, sweltering heat and extreme rainfall, the mass shooting in Uvalde, and soaring inflation are some of the major struggles we’ve faced in 2022. Though these seem beyond the realm of our professional purview, they certainly do affect every one of us. These issues impact many of the priorities in our profession, such as health/safety/welfare, prosperity, and sustainability/resilience. Part of our work as a professional association is to react when such issues come before us, to determine what we can do to help, and to prepare for what may follow.
One area where we have helped this year is through the work of our School Safety Subcommittee, part of TxA’s Government Affairs Committee. At a time such as this, when families are struggling with the loss of children and the entire community of Uvalde is grieving, sometimes the best help we can offer is in the background. The School Safety Subcommittee has worked alongside others in proposing and reviewing changes to Texas Education Agency standards to address campus safety for both existing and new campuses. This work is still in progress, and our organization continues to be consulted as an objective and knowledgeable resource for this important work.
Our theme this year has been “Connection,” and the focus has been on taking action. Everything we do, as a profession or as individuals, affects others. As architects, all of our actions — including areas of equity/diversity/inclusion, sustainability, and outreach — have an impact within our profession and beyond. What we do connects us to people around us, and what they do connects them to us. By our actions we are creating a fibrous thread weaving through our lives at the personal and social levels. I hope that the thread of work done this year by the current TxA leadership has been a positive contribution to our profession in Texas, and I hope you will see your own actions become a positive connection in your local community. Whether in good times or bad, what we do matters, and we must act within the only time we’ve got.
Eva Read-Warden, AIA, is the 2022 president of the Texas Society of Architects and a principal at The Arkitex Studio in Bryan.