Seven alumni among 2014 American Institute of Architects Fellows were honored in June

Within the last decade, Texas A&M has had more graduates elevated as Fellows in the American Institute of Architects than any other Texas university.
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For achieving a standard of excellence in the architecture profession and for significant contributors to architecture and society, seven Texas A&M former students have been elevated into the prestigious American Institute of Architects College of Fellows.

Nestor Bottino ’77, Russell Buchanan ’83, Jeffrey Fetzer ’80, Vergel Gay ’73, Laurie Limbacher ’77, Bryan Trubey ’83 and Thomas Upchurch '78 were honored at an investiture ceremony during the AIA’s June 2014 convention in Chicago.

“What an extraordinary group of former students, who over the past 40 years establish themselves with this award through their contributions to the discipline of architecture," said Ward Wells, head of the Department of Architecture at Texas A&M. "They reflect positively on the architecture program at Texas A&M University and their achievements, personified by their commitment to excellence, leadership and integrity, stands as a superlative example for students and graduates to emulate.”

Of the AIA’s more than 80,000 members, approximately 3,000 have been honored as fellows, one of the AIA’s highest honors.


Nestor Bottino ‘77


Nestor Bottino strives to create innovative, environmentally responsible designs focusing on enriching the human experience as a partner at Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture in New York City.

He is actively involved in design at every stage of the firm’s cultural, civic and academic projects, from earliest concepts to hands-on resolution of construction issues to ensure the completed work is true to the design intent of each project.

His projects include the Corpus Christi Performing Arts Center, the Mary D. and F. Howard Walsh Center for Performing Arts, the United States Military Academy Library & Learning Center and many more.

Bottino has also maintained a strong commitment to architectural education in academic institutions and within the profession, teaching design studios at several universities, including Texas A&M, the University of Texas, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Bottino has served on the AIA’s Architectural Graphic Standards Editorial Board, on several design award juries in the AIA’s Corpus Christi and San Antonio chapters, and has lectured widely on a variety of design topics at universities and AIA conventions.


Russell Buchanan ‘83


Russell Buchanan, founder of Buchanan Architecture in Dallas, creates a wide variety of influential, award-winning residential and commercial designs.

“Buchanan has challenged us to think about what design for our time really means,” said the Dallas Morning News’ Christopher Wynn in a blog post about a Buchanan residential design, which Wynn described as practical, energy-efficient and filled with extraordinarily beautiful details.

Buchanan also cofounded the Dallas Architecture Forum, which aims to provide a public discourse about architecture and urban design through lectures, panel discussions and study tours and is also a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Buchanan has also designed a large collection of furniture pieces, some of which were included in a 2011 exhibit at Collage 20th Century Classics, a Dallas gallery nationally recognized for its extensive collection of important architect-designed furniture, objects and lighting.

His work in architecture and furniture design has been widely published in the national and international press, including Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, Architecture, Texas Architect, Metropolitan Home, Wohnen, and the I.D. Review.

Before founding his firm, he was a project architect at Cunningham Architects, where he contributed to a number of award-winning buildings, including the Addison Conference Center and Theater and Cistercian Chapel in Irving.


Jeffrey Fetzer ’80


Jeffrey Fetzer is acting president of J. Fetzer, LLC, Architectural and Preservation Consulting in San Antonio. His 30-year career as a preservation architect has included leading roles on projects at some of Texas’ most iconic landmarks, including the Texas Capitol, which netted him a National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

He was also project manager for the restoration of the Texas Governor’s Mansion and the historic buildings at San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery.

Fetzer received a San Antonio Conservation Society Preservation Award for the Pearl Stable and the Pearl Brewery Smokestack restorations. The stable, once home to the brewery’s draft horses in the late 1800s, is now a unique site for business or social events with 5,235 square feet of ballroom space.

Fetzer has also served as the chairman of the city of San Antonio’s Historic and Design Review Commission, following a two-year stint as a commissioner.



Vergel Gay ‘73


Vergel Gay As the former facilities planning and construction officer for the Texas A&M University System, Vergel Gay led planning, design and construction efforts for projects valued at approximately $3 billion for 11 universities, the Texas A&M Health Science Center and seven A&M System agencies.

Today, he heads Vergel Gay & Associates, which provides project management, planning, design and construction services to educational, governmental and corporate clients from offices in Houston and Bryan-College Station.

Prior to his planning and construction post at the A&M System, he served the University of North Texas System as associate vice chancellor for system facilities and university system architect. He was also executive director for facilities planning and construction at the University of Houston System, chief architect for the city of Houston, senior project architect for the A&M System and area manager-architecture for Southwestern Bell Corporation.

The first African-American graduate of Texas A&M to become a licensed architect, Gay serves on the American Institute of Architects’ national Public Architects Knowledge Group and is chairman of the Texas Society of Architects’ Integrated Project Delivery and Building Information Modeling Task Force, where he has overseen the development of best practice methodology.


Laurie Limbacher ‘77


Laurie Limbacher, co-founder of Limbacher & Godfrey Architects an award-winning Austin architecture, planning and historic preservation firm, has restored numerous sties, including the Deep Eddy Bathhouse, the first Works Progress Administration project in Austin. The project restored the bathhouse into a fully usable condition with expanded showering and dressing facilities, a concession stand and administrative offices.

The firm also designed the North Village Branch Library, an 11,000 sq. ft. building serving five North Austin neighborhoods, doubling the size of the storefront branch it replaced. It’s designed to be a natural light-filled community destination where books, computers and people gather in age-appropriate spaces as well as a community room for programs, clubs and lifelong learning classes. 

Limbacher and her firm partner and husband Alfred Godfrey have recently completed the Juniper Street and Olive Street Historic District Master Plan, which includes an analysis of historic patterns of development and recommendations for preserving some of Austin’s oldest remaining historically African-American housing stock.


Bryan Trubey ‘83


Two of the past four Super Bowls have been played in stadiums designed by Bryan Trubey, principal and director of Sports Entertainment at HKS, Inc. He was hailed as one of the “20 Most Influential People in Sports Facility Design, Architecture and Development” by Sports Business Journal.

Trubey designed AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which hosted Super Bowl XLV in 2011 and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which hosted 2012’s Super Bowl XLVI.

Another Trubey-designed stadium will be the home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings when it’s completed in July 2016.

As the firm’s principal with 28 years experience, Trubey actively participates in all phases of the architectural design process, setting a design concept and maintaining design continuity throughout project development.

Trubey has led the design of a long list of sporting venues, including Dell Diamond in Round Rock, home of the Round Rock Express baseball team, the Texas Rangers’ Class AAA affiliate.

It was named the best ballpark of a Class AA team in the country by Baseball America magazine in 2003, when it hosted Houston’s AA affiliate, and was included in a list of great baseball destinations by ESPN.

Trubey has also designed the American Airlines Center, home of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and Toyota Stadium in Frisco, home of the Major League Soccer team FC Dallas.


Thomas Upchurch ‘78


Thomas Upchurch, president of Upchurch Architects in Brenham, Texas, has designed numerous award-winning projects and served in leadership posts in the American Institute of Architects and Texas Society of Architects.

Upchurch’s design of the Wildwood Pool House, an addition which utilized architectural elements of an existing house on a lot in Dallas, netted him the AIA Brazos’ 2011 Excellence in Architecture award.

He also designed the Christ Lutheran Day School in Brenham, which includes oversized picture windows set low enough for children to look outside during their time in class, part of an environment that encourages exploration and imagination. The design won a 2007 citation for excellence in architecture from AIA Brazos.

A renovation of 101 South Baylor St. in downtown Brenham, based on his design, helped transform a neglected building into a new retail space and luxury loft apartment. The retail area was recognized by the Texas Downtown Association with its 2007 Best Commercial Interior award.

Upchurch has promoted design excellence nationally and worldwide through his 26-year participation in the AIA’s Committee on Design, which examines and promotes knowledge of contemporary design issues, compares current design and historic precedents, and advocates leadership roles for architects in design and planning.

posted February 20, 2014