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Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is planning to move from its aging Montrose digs into a new building downtown.
A Letter from a Student -- 2/6/2013
I have always felt honored to call myself a Rodeo Scholar and a beneficiary of this wonderful organization. Growing up, there were only a handful of years that my family did not attend the rodeo. It was more than just going to the carnival, eating a funnel cake, and seeing an awesome rodeo and concert. It was a part of our heritage and way of life. I currently have multiple family members on various Rodeo committees, including an uncle who has served on committee for over 30 years and is a lifetime member. Serving on a committee along with my family is definitely something I hope to pursue if I am able to stay in the Houston area after college. After receiving the Metropolitan Scholarship in the spring of 2010, I feel as though I am continuing my family’s tradition of being a part of the larger Rodeo family. Now, when I go to the rodeo it means so much more to walk the grounds and sit in that stadium because I know I am just one of the many who are fortunate enough to benefit from this amazing organization.
I am currently in my third year of architecture school at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston and absolutely loving it. After three years of school, I have discovered my true passion in architecture and have done very well due to this passion. I have to admit though that this passion has started to annoy some of my closest non-architecture friends because once I start talking about architecture, it is really hard for me to stop. The idea that all people don’t find Renzo Piano’s detail work mind blowing or aren’t curious about the structural and mechanical systems of the building they are standing in just doesn’t make sense to me. I guess that is just proof that I am in the right field of study. Further proof is how well I have done in my studies so far. My projects have garnered praise from my studio professors, many of whom keep my work as examples for future students, and my GPA has consistently stayed high enough to make the Dean’s list every semester I have attended school. It is no secret that architecture students are some of the most sleep deprived, caffeinated, and hardest working students on campus, yet on top of my studio work and architecture studies, I have found time to be in the Spirit of Houston Marching Band for the past three years as a clarinet player. Being a member of the Spirit of Houston has allowed me to continue to be involved with my first passion, music, while also being part of an organization whose sole purpose is to support our school and be the largest spirit group on campus. The Spirit of Houston also marches in the Rodeo parade every year and that parade is one of the highlights of my marching season primarily due to my pride in being a part of this rodeo family.
Although my grades and work may say otherwise, this last year and a half has been no walk in the park. In the summer of 2011, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer. This came as a shock to my entire family as my dad was our rock and strong shoulder to lean on. He never complained about anything and was never seriously sick before. For me personally, his diagnosis was especially hard to deal with as he was my inspiration to pursue architecture. Growing up, I would always tag along with him to his construction sites and he would give me tours of the houses he was working on. Seeing his pride in his work and his love for creating things led me to start considering architecture as a possible career as early as elementary school. I will always remember the first day he put the idea in my head. We were driving around a housing development he was working in and after looking at a house, I pointed out all the things I would do differently, that’s when he said “you would make a good architect.” From that day on, the seed was planted. At the Rodeo scholars banquet my senior year, he was talking to one of the donors of my scholarship when he mentioned that he had no idea how I came to consider architecture as a career. Overhearing him, I turned to him and said “you of course. You are the reason I am doing this.” I don’t think I have ever seen my dad more proud of me than at that moment. The fall semester after he was diagnosed, I worked the hardest I had ever worked in school and my projects showed it. I had convinced myself that if I worked hard and did amazing work, he would get better. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t work, and my dad passed away, surrounded by “his girls,” my mom, sister, and I, in January, two days before I was set to return for the spring semester. There are times I still don’t understand how I got through that semester as well as I did. Each day was a struggle, yet by leaning on my friends and family, and most importantly, my strong faith, I pulled through and was still able to be very successful. Now, instead of working hard to make my dad better, I work hard to honor my dad’s memory. He never did anything half-way or left things unfinished and his signature saying was “it builds character” as in “calluses build character.” He is my inspiration and my idol and I find comfort in knowing that I am following in his footsteps and being the third generation in my family to pursue a career in the building industry.
As I mentioned earlier, I am in my third year of study at U of H and I have two years left of a five-year professional architecture degree with a minor in construction management. This semester will be by far the busiest for me, yet the most rewarding. On top of my normal studio project, I am also part of a design team that will be designing and fabricating an installation for the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Through this project and the class associated with it, I will be learning firsthand how to design in a group, gain funding for a project, research material options, and work with manufacturers and fabricators, something not many students get to experience while still in school. On top of this, I have also been awarded a research scholarship through the Provost Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program at U of H. My research focuses on developing a modular building system that can be deployed after natural disasters to help with recovery efforts. Through the course of one semester, I will move from researching the needs of aid groups such as the Red Cross and FEMA to fabrication of my design, ultimately ending in an opportunity to potentially present my work at the international design conference, SmartGeometries, where my professor mentor will be hosting a workshop. There is no telling how much sleep I will lose or caffeine I will consume this semester, but my excitement at having these amazing opportunities to design and display my work at an international level more than makes up for it as well as the knowledge that this is only the beginning.
After I finish my undergraduate work, I would really like to pursue a master’s degree in architecture. I was recently told by one of my professors to consider pursuing a degree in a competitive program such as Harvard or Columbia due to my level of work. This recommendation makes me very excited especially because it comes from a Princeton graduate and someone whose work is internationally known and exhibited. After I finish school, I would like to remain in the Houston area and work for a smaller firm that allows me to dabble in different kinds of architecture. Unless, of course, Renzo Piano gives me a call, at which point I’ll be on the first flight out to Italy or Paris.
Erling Cruz, Student
Erling Cruz received an Honor Award in the AIA Fort Worth Excellence in Design Student Awards program for his Birdwatch Towers. There were 2 Honor Awards and 3 Merit Awards selected. Tom Colbert was his instructor.
Juan Jimenez, ID Student
After Mariel Piña’s Ambos win in the 2012 competition, Juan Jimenez’s Smart Measure win in 2013 marked the second consecutive year that a UH ID student claimed first prize at the International Houseware Association (IHA) Student Design Competition. Juan will receive a trophy and cash award of $3000.00 with a special invitation to the International Home + Housewares Show held in McCormick Place, Chicago, March 2-5. The IHA show is one of the top 10 trade shows in the U.S. and this is the 20th year of a IHA juried competition. More than 2,000 companies introduce their products to buyers at this premier business-to-business marketing event.
Smart Measure was developed from INDS 3501 studio project taught by Professor EunSook Kwon. The same as Ambos, Smart Measure is expecting to receive companies’ attentions at the show. For the winners, IHA provides an individual booth at McCormick Place and promotes winners and winning products through diverse media. You can find Mariel and other winners’ entry booklets in the following website. Juan will take Mariel’s spot for another year.
Tiger Lyon, Student
Tiger Lyon received a Merit Award in the AIA Fort Worth Excellence in Design Student Awards for his project entitled Buffalo Bayou Cocoon. Fernando Brave was his instructor.
FISHER STREET HOUSE
Donna Kacmar, Associate Professor, Director of MRC
Prof. Donna Kacmar’s Fisher Street House was featured on the cover of “Texas Architect”, January/February issue (available in the Dean's office.) The six-page article, “Modesty is a Virtue,” was written by former faculty member Ben Koush, AIA.
Made in Houston
Cord Bowen, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Coordinator Foundation Studios
Architecture of the Object is a design entrepreneurial course engaging both Architecture and Industrial Design students to design, market, manufacture, and sell a product. The course began as an exploration of craft and making of luxury goods. Recently it was expanded to challenge students to participate in the retail market. There is an importance to bring designers closer to idea of business and commerce.
We pair the course with a local design shop and ask the students to research the customer and develop a product to sell in the shop. Students form groups and run through the entire process from ideation to manufacturing. Each group will produce up to 30 units of their product idea to sell in the retail environment. Before groups are allowed on the retail shelves they must be accepted by buyers brought in from the participating shop. This gives them the real world experience of dependent success only with a product that is desirable to the buyers. This takes the course to a new level bringing students closer to the real world of design and retail. The course also asks students to develop diagrammatic business plans allowing them to plan for expansion
if the product sells well.
A blog that is running on Chron.com (front page placement right now).