Architect, educator McKittrick funeral takes place in Houston

Thomas McKittrick ’91, who became an architecture educator at Texas A&M University in 1990 after a stellar 28-year career as a professional architect, passed away April 23, 2013. He was 79.

A member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows, McKittrick joined Texas A&M’s Department of Architecture as its first Mid-Career Fellow.

While teaching at Texas A&M, he earned a master’s degree in 1991 at age 57, received a tenured faculty appointment and was appointed coordinator of the department’s Master of Architecture program.

He was later appointed assistant head, then interim head of the department, where he increased the number of its faculty members and launched preparations for a 2002 National Architectural Accrediting Board visit, all while serving as advocate, motivator and mentor to department faculty.

Among the many honors received by McKittrick, an outstanding alumnus of Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, were the Edward C. Kemper Award, the American Institute of Architect’s highest award for service to the profession, the Llewellyn W. Pitts Award, the Texas Society of Architects’ highest honor for lifetime achievement, and an outstanding faculty award at Texas A&M.

McKittrick earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Rice University in 1957. After a stint in the U.S. Navy and an architectural apprenticeship, he co-founded McKittrick Drennan & Richardson Architects in 1963.

The firm, which became widely known for its design of academic and institutional buildings, underwent several iterations. Five years after its founding, with a new partner the firm’s name changed to McKittrick Drennan Richardson & Wallace. Later, Drennan withdrew and McKittrick Richardson & Wallace Architects was born.

“He advocated for and incorporated sustainability and active community planning involvement long before that became de rigueur for the profession,” wrote David Lancaster, TSA executive vice president, in support of McKittrick’s nomination for the Kemper award.

McKittrick’s involvement with the AIA spanned more than four decades.

He served as president of the Houston chapter of the AIA in 1981, president of the Texas Society of Architects, an AIA component, in 1984, member of the national AIA board from 1989-1991 and vice president of the AIA national component in 1991.

In 1995, McKittrick and former AIA president Jack McGinty, FAIA, co-authored a broader definition of the practice of architecture that was adopted by the Texas legislature.

Throughout his career, McKittrick focused on concerns related to professional and continuing education. Highlights include:

  • serving on the International Union of Architects’ Working Group on Educational and Cultural Spaces, which, he said, heightened his awareness that other nations look to the AIA for leadership and professional knowledge;
  • participating in the 1982 “Direction 80's Goals Conference,” which envisioned a day when members could receive AIA continuing education courses on computer disks or videotapes;

  • leading the development of an AIA member survey regarding changes needed in architecture education, and ultimately proposing changes to the student performance criteria that were adopted by the organization.
posted April 25, 2013