Class Acts: Former student news

The College of Architecture encourages former students to submit news items for the Class Acts section of the arch|one e-newsletter. This section highlights professional achievements, as well as news briefs about marriages, births, retirements, bucket list accomplishments or whatever else former students care to share with the college community and their former classmates. News and photos may be e-mailed directly to the editor.



adrian smith tower Adrian Smith ’66 ARCH , has announced that his firm, Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture, has designed “Imperial Tower,” a 116- story, 1,300 foot-tall building that, if built, would become Mumbai, India’s tallest building. Environmentally friendly touches include rainwater harvesting, gray water recycling and exterior cladding to limit solar heat gain. The firm designed the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which stands 2,722 feet tall.



Jay Weiss Jay Weiss ’71 BED is turning John Deere tractors, lighting fixtures, bicycles and other everyday objects into art. The Houston architect also makes furniture from vintage cars.

Weiss returned to Texas after serving as project manager at Battle Creek, Michigan’s Neighborhood Stabilization program, an effort to revitalize distressed urban neighborhoods. Since his return, he has used his design and construction administration experience on projects such as the redevelopment of the Touchstone Neurorecovery Center in Conroe.



Jim Manskey ’79 BSLA is the new president of TBG Partners, one of the nation’s premier landscape architecture and planning firms. Manskey, who opened TBG’s Dallas office in 1998, is replacing Earl Broussard, a former landscape architecture faculty member at Texas A&M, who founded the firm in 1987.



Sandra Paret Sandra Parét ’80 ARCH  received the Women’s Legacy Award, presented to women whose accomplishments have had an impact on future generations of Aggie women. She heads the Global Strategic Accounts + Consulting Practice at HOK, a design, engineering and planning firm. Parét, a College of Architecture outstanding alumna, received the award with fellow honorees at a Women Former Students’ Network luncheon Oct. 17, 2013.



Nat Wrotenbery ’81 BDCR, left presented Joe Horlen, right, head of the Department of Construction Science, with a $25,000 gift to name an office in Francis Hall for former department head Jim Marsh ’51. Francis Hall is the department’s future home. Wrotenbery is president of Estancia Electric in Spring, Texas. Nat Wrotenbery and others



Scott Marble Scott Marble ’83 BED, penned an article about TEX-FAB, which facilitates collaboration between professional designers, academics and students working in digital fabrication and parametric modeling, that appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2013 issue of Texas Architect.

TEX-FAB was founded by Brad Bell ’93 BED, Kevin McClellan ’98 BED and Andrew Vrana ’93 BED. Marble, founding principal of New York design firm Marble Fairbanks and an outstanding alumnus of the College of Architecture, wrote that Tex-Fab is laying the foundation for a newly organized architecture, engineering, and construction industry.



Kelly Templin ’87 BED and ’91 MUP has been appointed city manager of College Station. "I'm honored and humbled by the opportunity to return to the community that my family and I love so much," Templin said. "I look forward to working with the city council, staff and citizens to make College Station the best city it can be." Templin is returning to College Station from Seabrook, Texas, where he led numerous economic development and infrastructure improvement efforts after his appointment as city manager in 2011.



Donna Kacmar ’88 BED, ’92 MARCH was named one of Houston’s top five residential architects in Houstonia magazine’s January 2014 issue. “What makes her spaces great,” said the magazine, “is their marriage of cutting edge aesthetics to a low carbon footprint and sustainable infrastructure.” Kacmar, an associate professor of architecture at University of Houston’s Hines College of Architecture and principal of architect works, inc. in Houston, is an outstanding alumna of the College of Architecture.



Ron Cheek Contemporary realist painter Ron Cheek ’89 BED, doesn't follow the hot trends in the art world, but maintains a “desire to make powerful, meaningful images despite very little mainstream attention,” said Richard Davison, professor of visualization at Texas A&M in the September 2013 issue of Post-Modern Times magazine.

Cheek, teaches paining in an “old master” style to students at the Texas Academy of Figurative Art, which he founded in 2007.



Scott Clanton Scott Clanton, ’90 BED, ’94 MARCH, principal/owner of MG Architects in Houston, is the firm’s lead designer for diverse projects including multistory offices, prototype branch banks, historic preservation and LEED-certified projects. Clanton, who joined the firm in 1994, contributes throughout the project process from its original concept to a comprehensive design solution.



Scott Clanton Elizabeth Price ’96 BED, ’98 MARCH, was among four young architects starting new firms in small communities featured in the Nov. – Dec. issue of Texas Architect.

“As teaching assistant to the legendary John Only Greer, FAIA, at Texas A&M University, Price learned firsthand about the value of getting engaged in the broader profession, taking on bigger issues, and building a strong network,” said the magazine’s Canan Yetmen.


CLASS OF 2002, 2003

chambers, smith Byron Chambers ’02 MARCH and Thomas Smith ’03 MARCH were part of an HKS, Inc. team that designed a baseball stadium in Scottsdale Ariz. that was recognized by Architectural Record for its Good Design is Good Business award. Chambers was the project designer and Smith the project architect for Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, a stadium that serves as the spring training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. The stadium also hosts concerts and many other special events.



Kurt Phillips ’03 BED, MSVIZ ’08 helped write the screenplay and co-stars in Condo Hell, a horror/thriller flick in which a serial killer wreaks havoc at a weekend party attended by unsuspecting guests looking to buy condominiums at what was once the killer’s birth home. The film is currently in post-production. Phillips served as a technical director in several animated films including “WALL-E” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”  Condo Hell



Nicholas McWhirter ’03 BED shot more than 300 color photos for “The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue” by Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn. McWhirter, a licensed architect at Good Fulton & Farrell in Dallas, co-heads the firm’s visualization division and is also a freelance photographer.



Jake Donaldson Rayburn “Jake” Donaldson ’04 BED led his firm, Three Square Design Group, to number 33 on the Houston Business Journal’s list of the city’s 100 fastest growing privately owned area businesses and number 24  on the Aggie 100, a list of the fastest-growing Aggie-owned or operated businesses.

The journal also listed the firm as a finalist in its Best Places to Work list, and Donaldson was recognized as one of the city’s 40 top professionals under age 40.



Tom Gerhardt ’07 BED and Dan Provost ’07 BED have developed the Neat Ice Kit, which allows anyone to make clear ice for cocktails at home without the need for expensive machines that cocktail bars use. The kit, developed by Gerhardt and Provost with help from Kickstarter, a crowd funding site, is the latest product by the Studio Neat duo.



Clinton Broyles ’07 BED is a Dallas-based artist whose paintings were featured recently in a one-man show at the Southwest Art Gallery in Dallas.  Broyles was a featured artist at the Summer Art Festival, August 24-25, 2013, where two of his latest pieces were available.


CLASS OF 2008,2009

A proposal by  Mark Navarro ’08 BED, ’10 MARCH and Timothy Hair ’09 BLA to redevelop Hemisfair Park’s Plaza de Artes with an emphasis on sustainability, sense of place and rainwater runoff reduction was one of three winners in the inaurgural Low Impact Development Design Competition sponsored by the San Antonio River Authority. The designers, who work at Fisher Heck Architects and Mask Landscape Architecture, respectively, will see their ideas incorporated into a planned HemisFair renovation.



Sean Knoll ’11 BED owns and directs the 12,000 square-foot Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art in Alamo Heights, Texas, which offers ample wall space to easily accommodate paintings ranging from simple 6" x 8" pieces up 96" canvases. The gallery, said Knoll, is committed to acquiring the finest quality representational artwork, and remaining an educational outlet for those seeking to expand their knowledge of current traditional artwork and artists. 



Todd Hansen ’13 MUP earned the Texas Transportation Institute’s Master’s Student Award for his innovative solutions and quality research results while working at TTI in spring 2013 as a graduate student. He received the honor at a TTI luncheon and awards presentation Jan. 23, 2014. Hansen is now an assistant transportation researcher in TTI’s Houston office, focusing on determining best practices for transportation agencies throughout the state.



Shuman Tan Shuman Tan ’13 MUP earned the Texas Transportation Institute’s Master’s Student Award for providing dedicated, reliable research support for TTI projects as a graduate student during the spring 2013 semester. She now works at TTI in College Station as an assistant transportation researcher, providing GIS spatial analysis, data review and collection, technical documentation and literature reviews.




posted January 15, 2014