Learn more about the College of Architecture’s Outstanding Alumni.
Nine former students from the Texas A&M College of Architecture who have distinguished themselves as humanitarians and leaders in their respective fields were honored as outstanding alumni at a Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 banquet in their honor at The George Hotel, 180 Century Court in College Station.
The 2017 honorees were nominated by former students and selected for their outstanding achievements by a college committee.
Less than one percent of the college’s 16,000-plus former students have been recognized as outstanding alumni, the highest honor bestowed by the college to its former students.
The 2017 College of Architecture Outstanding Alumni are: Caesar “Skip” Alvarado ’68, president, Alvarado Solutions; Aan Garrett Coleman ’81, president and founding partner, Coleman & Associates; Nunzio DeSantis ‘81, co-founding head of Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects; Debra Dockery ‘75, president, Debra J. Dockery, Architect; the late Charles Graham ’88, former dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture; Mark Hatchel ‘78, vice-president and senior park planner, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.; Luis Jauregui ‘76, president, Jauregui Architecture, Construction & Interiors, Brian Kralyevich ‘89, vice president, user experience design, Amazon, and William Raba ‘86, president of Raba Kistner.
Cesar “Skip” Alvarado, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Construction degree in 1968, is president of Alvarado Solutions. During his career, Alvarado has managed numerous, high-profile construction projects, some valued at more than $5 billion, in more than 20 nations across the globe.
His projects, which include an offshore oil production platform and oil loading terminal, which at the time of their construction were the largest of their kind, were completed on schedule and on budget despite the high risk of cost and time overruns, said Wayne L. Kelley, managing director of RSK UK Limited, a global management consulting firm in the oil and gas exploration industry.
After the first Gulf War, as a management executive with Fluor, a global engineering and construction company, Alvarado helped manage more than 9,000 firefighters from 10 nations who extinguished more than 700 oil well fires in Kuwait that were lit by retreating Iraqi forces.
Because so many wells were on fire, industry experts predicted that it would take five years to complete the dangerous task, but the fires were extinguished in just eight months.
He then helped lead an effort to rebuild Kuwait’s oil producing infrastructure, and in just two years the nation exceeded its prewar oil output.
For years, Alvarado has partnered with the Department of Construction Science as a member of its Construction Industry Advisory Council, whose industry leaders and former students advise department administrators and faculty on contemporary industry issues and influence the department's strategic direction and course content.
Aan Garrett Coleman, who established her own firm after graduating with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree in 1981, has headed numerous award-winning design and planning projects in Austin, including the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, the University of Texas Student Union Courtyard Renovation, the Austin-Bergstrom Airport Master Plan, the city’s public library, and The Grove, a tranquil park that features interactive water fountains and a play area for children under a large stand of live oak trees at a shopping center.
To create the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, which features pieces by sculptor Charles Umlauf, who led art classes at the University of Texas for 40 years, Coleman collaborated with the artist, his wife and muse Angeline, and philanthropist Roberta Crenshaw.
“Designing this special place was the experience of a lifetime,” said Coleman, who remains a member of the garden’s board of directors.
Her designs also accent campuses in the Texas State University System, which consists of institutions from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Big Bend region.
“Coleman’s approach to creating the perfect landscape solution and her ability to make a strong connection with clients results in beautiful campus settings that parents, students, and the public will enjoy for years to come,” said Rob Roy Parnell, the system’s associate vice chancellor of facilities.
She has also been an integral part of landscape architecture education at Texas A&M for many years by assisting students who organize Aggie Workshop, an annual event featuring lectures by distinguished industry professionals, panel discussions and a charrette.
Coleman is a past chairwoman of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning’s Professional Advisory board and a member of the College of Architecture’s Development Advisory Council.
She also mentors former students as interns and young professionals in her firm, said Michael Murphy, Texas A&M professor emeritus of landscape architecture.
“She familiarizes them with all aspects of practice and places them on career paths appropriate to their individual talents and interests,” said Murphy. “It would be difficult to calculate the influence of her mentoring through the years.”
During a 34-year career at HKS Inc., Nunzio DeSantis, who earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 1981 and a Master of Architecture degree in 1983,created top-flight hotels, resorts, restaurants, wellness and entertainment venues throughout the U.S. and 53 countries around the world.
In 2017, he founded Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects, a Dallas-based hospitality firm that focuses on innovative design to deliver exceptional guest experiences.
“Simply put, he is a globally recognized leader in hospitality architecture design whose work has been featured in publications worldwide,” said Kirk Teske ’83, HKS’ chief operating officer.
DeSantis led the creation of some of the most exciting, prestigious hospitality environments in the world, said Ron Skaggs ’65, HKS chairman emeritus. DeSantis’ projects include the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in China, The W Hollywood Hotel and Residences in Los Angeles, and the Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Las Cabos, Mexico.
In 1994, just 11 years after joining HKS, DeSantis created and led the HKS Hospitality Group, which quickly grew to rank among the top 3 design firms of its kind in the world.
Nine years later, DeSantis was named one of four HKS managing principals. Under his leadership, the firm rose to national prominence as one of the U.S.’ largest and most diversified architectural firms.
He is also a longtime partner of design education at Texas A&M, lecturing and engaging with students. He is also a frequent lecturer at additional leading universities including Harvard, Notre Dame, Cornell and the University of Texas at Arlington.
In addition to heading an award-winning architecture firm, Debra Dockery, who earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 1975 and a Master of Architecture degree in 1977, is an outspoken, tireless advocate for her profession. She works with state lawmakers to improve major legislative and regulatory initiatives affecting Texas’ registered architects.
In one of her significant achievements, Dockery helped develop landmark legislation providing clear project roles for architects and engineers, putting an end to a 20-year conflict.
She has served on the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners since 2011, and as its chairwoman since 2016. She also develops specifications for the profession’s licensure exam as a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
At her practice, Dockery, a member of the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious College of Fellows, has helped shape South Texas through the design of more than $200 million in public projects in San Antonio and surrounding cities.
Her notable Alamo City projects include the restoration of the Japanese Tea Garden Pagoda in Brackenridge Park, designs for the Jean Yates Community Center, numerous elementary school campuses, a property and evidence facility for the city’s police department, additional city community centers, and numerous additions to public buildings and branch libraries.
She also mentors architectural students, interns and emerging professionals with a focus on the design business and the development of practice and project management skills.
Charles Graham, who earned a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Sciences at Texas A&M in 1988, served as dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture where he revamped the college curriculum and led a $33 million facility renovation and expansion. Honored posthumously, Graham passed away February 2016.
“He worked hard to improve communication between faculty, renewed our strategic direction and provided much-needed administrative consistency during his tenure,” said Thomas Woodfin, professor of landscape architecture at OU and a former member of the Texas A&M faculty. “Graham loved to create opportunities for students to learn and was particularly fond of hands-on, experiential learning.”
Graham also launched numerous interdisciplinary programs that led to first-place student entries in regional, national and international competitions.
In 2015 Graham was named one of the nation’s 25 most admired educators by the Design Futures Council, a global network of designers, academics and students.
"Graham richly deserved the recognition," said OU president David Boren. "He made an immeasurable contribution to the strength of the College of Architecture."
Before accepting the dean’s post at OU, Graham spent 26 years as a faculty member and administrator at Texas A&M, starting as a lecturer in 1982. He was eventually named professor of construction science and holder of the History Maker Homes Endowed Professorship in Construction Science.
In one of Graham’s Texas A&M classes, students designed two prototype community centers to serve residents in colonias, impoverished border communities near the Texas-Mexico border that often lack basic infrastructure and amenities such as running water. Today, 42 centers from El Paso to Brownsville serve the Colonias Program, providing facilities that support a wide array of program services including community resource and self-help programs.
Many of Graham’s former students have become successful in multiple disciplines, said Elton Abbot, associate dean for international programs at the Texas A&M College of Architecture and one of Graham’s former colleagues.
“With a thorough knowledge of the collaborative nature of our profession, Graham instilled in construction science and architecture students the importance of respecting the value each project team member brings to provide quality design and construction services,” said Abbott.
At Texas A&M, Graham also served as interim head of the Department of Construction Science and executive associate dean of the College of Architecture.
Mark Hatchel, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture degree in 1978, is a vice president at Kimley-Horn, a multidisciplinary planning and design firm and an internationally renowned waterpark designer who has created more than 150 commercial and municipal projects throughout the world.
Since completing his first aquatic project in 1980, Hatchel ascended to the top of the waterpark design field as director of architectural services at Wet‘n’Wild International and vice-president of design and development for NBGS/Schlitterbahn Waterparks.
His waterpark designs thrill guests throughout the U.S. and in far-flung locales including Brazil, China, Mexico and Turkey.
Hatchel’s impact in the field is recognized with numerous awards and honors, including a listing in the 2008 Aquatics International “Power 25,” a group of individuals and companies reinventing the industry. In 2016, he was honored at the World Waterpark Association’s Hall of Fame award ceremony.
Prior to joining Wet’n’Wild, Hatchel was an associate at Schrickel-Rollins, where he led many award-winning public facility projects including the 1990 Texas A&M University Campus Master Plan.
He also helps guide educators at Texas A&M as a past chairman and member of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Professional Advisory Board, mentors students, and regularly serves on juries critiquing student work.
Luis Jauregui, who earned a a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 1976 and a Master of Architecture degree in 1978, heads an award-winning team professionals at Jauregui Architecture, Construction, & Interiors distinguished for integrating the design and construction of custom homes.
His firm, one of the first fully integrated design-build companies in Texas, earned the National Association of Home Builders’ Custom Builder of the Year award in 2016, numerous additional national and state honors as well as recognition from Houston and Austin builders’ organizations.
During his more than three decades as a designer and builder, Jauregui has also earned scores of individual awards for his work and service in the building and design industries.
A member of the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious College of Fellows, he established the AIA’s Custom Residential Architects Network, a national group that helps its members strengthen their firms by sharing best practices and highlighting the value of their work.
He has also served the AIA’s Austin chapter as its president and an officer and is a regular speaker at AIA events.
Jauregui is past president of the Home Builders Association of Austin and has served as a director of local, state and national homebuilder associations.
Brian Kralyevich, who earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 1989, oversees the design of Amazon’s suite of digital devices, including its Kindle Readers, Fire tablets, and the Echo, a digital assistant that CNET magazine called one of the best web-connected home products on the market.
Kralyevich, an accomplished creative executive with more than 20 years’ expertise in award-winning product design and services, uses his design thinking skills and multidisciplinary approach to problem solving to create products recognized throughout the world, said Rodney Hill, professor of architecture at Texas A&M.
At Amazon, Kralyevich oversees teams of highly creative individuals whose disciplines include interactive and motion design, 3-D animation, and design integration — the application of design thinking to corporate strategy and processes in an effort to achieve business breakthroughs.
His teams are design-led, working in collaboration with engineering and business partners to produce innovative, integrated hardware, software and service solutions for customers.
Prior to joining Amazon, Kralyevich was executive creative director at XBOX, where he directed interdisciplinary design teams who delivered consumer experiences through game consoles, Kinect, desktop computers and mobile devices.
He was also head of user experience design at Nokia, leading a team that created the Nokia N9, a mobile phone hailed by The Verge’s Vlad Savov as, “without a doubt, one of the most fascinating phones of the last few years,” when it was released in 2012. “Everything about this phone exudes elegance and harmony,” he said.
Kralyevich’s work has garnered the digital industry’s most esteemed design awards and been featured in numerous publications including Communication Arts, Wired Magazine, The Verge, The New York Times and CNet.
He also serves as an adviser and mentor at Startup Aggieland, which assists student entrepreneurs in any degree program or classification who operate a business.
William Raba ’86, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction in 1986, is president and vice chairman of the board of Raba Kistner, an engineering, project management and environmental consulting firm recognized by Engineering News-Record as one of the top 500 U.S.-based firms of its kind. The firm provides services to more than 350 public and private clients in numerous sectors including housing, education and transportation.
With more than 30 years of industry experience, Raba, instrumental in the firm’ expansion into 14 regional offices in four states and Mexico, oversees the firm’s strategic planning and corporate development, its safety and risk management procedures and its information technology.
Raba was principal in charge of the firm's recent project management role in Texas A&M's Kyle Field redevelopment.
He is also a highly regarded civic leader in San Antonio, heading education, economic development, and nonprofit initiatives.
Raba earned Northside ISD’s Pillar of Citizenship honor for raising $2.8 billion in the district's last 5 bond elections as its education foundation finance chairman.
He also played a leading role in fundraising efforts to pass additional municipal and educational bonds, including an $850 million Alamo City measure, the 2017 Alamo Community College District's $450 million package, and the San Antonio ISD's most recent measure.
Raba also helps to build a better community and bring major employers to San Antonio as a member of the city’s United Way board of directors and its Economic Development Foundation executive committee.
He also led efforts to rebuild an award-winning, solar-powered home, designed and built by College of Architecture students for the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2007 Solar Decathlon, as a centerpiece for an education, training, and research center in San Antonio for renewable and energy-efficient technologies, water management and conservation.