Legendary architecture professor Rodney Hill’s 50 years of teaching and inspiring Texas A&M students were commemorated at rodneypalooza March 30, 2019 at the Ice House on Main in downtown Bryan.
The evening, hosted by Hill’s former student Robert Riggs ’71, included a short tribute video and a brief address by the evening’s honoree, followed by plenty of time to reconnect with Hill, a lauded educator, architect, artist, environmental psychology expert, and futurist whose lessons prompt students to connect the dots and draw their own conclusions from emerging global conditions, innovations and imagined possibilities.
“Hill is one of the most magical and inspiring teachers I have met in my lifetime,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture. “He combines boundless passion, energy and selfless dedication to his students with a brilliant intellect, an infectious charm and a genuine sense of care.”
Throughout his career, Hill, who was named a member of the prestigious American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows in 2012, has garnered innumerable awards from state and national organizations, as well as nearly every major teaching honor awarded by Texas A&M.
Five decades of former students count Hill as one of their best teachers, including Los Angeles-based designer David Applebaum ’80, also known as the “Architect to the Stars” for his long list of celebrity clients.
“It has almost 40 years since I sat in Rodney Hill’s studio, but there has never been a day since that I do not use one of the lessons, exercises or examples he introduced to me,” he said.
“Rodney,” said Applebaum, “did not just teach artful design, theory, programming and practice. He taught us to think for ourselves, find our voice and think creatively. He confidently steered me and countless thousands of students and former students toward self-realization.”
Hill is also an accomplished artist who designed Texas A&M University at Qatar’s ceremonial mace, the “Obelisk of Knowledge,” a 13-foot tall, 900-pound sculpture he created at the request of the campus’ main benefactors, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Khalifa Al-Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned.
He also created a bronze Muster sculpture in the Academic Plaza, an 8-foot-tall wood and bronze obelisk in the Sterling C. Evans Library and many others.