Architecture Faculty Win Texas Society of Architects Design Awards

Collaboration key factor influencer in award-winning work

by Symone Daniels • June 22, 2022

The University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design congratulates professors Jesse Hager, Amna Ansari, and Marcus Martinez for receiving the 2022 Texas Society of Architects (TXA) Design Awards. The annual awards recognize design excellence among architects throughout the state of Texas. Of 150 submissions, a panel of jurors from across the United States selected 25 top exceptional works for this year's award winners.

The Allston Residence is a collaboration between Hager's firm, CONTENT Architecture, and the homeowners. Located in a neighborhood of Houston's historic Heights district, the two-story home is a modern interpretation of the traditional surrounding bungalows. Throughout the design process, CONTENT Architecture learned the couples' preferences, designing a custom and unique living space based on the homeowner's needs. Hager believes the homeowner's involvement in the project's design process is as essential as the architects themselves.

To those familiar with the architecture and design industry, CONTENT Architecture's recent win is not surprising. The firm continuously wins awards and gains recognition for its breadth of outstanding work. For Hager, though, this 2022 TXA Award is an exciting and validating win for the firm. Sharing this experience with the homeowners has been the most rewarding part of the experience.

Above: An interior view of the allston residence.

Below: An exterior photo of the house; another look inside the residence; hines college professor jesse hager

"The homeowners are very excited their home has been recognized at this level. They are ecstatic and proud that it has been included among the best."

—Jesse Hager

Alongside CONTENT Architecture in this year's awards is UltraBarrio, an architecture and urban design practice founded by alumni and faculty members Amna Ansari '03 and Marcus Martinez '04.

Roaming Cart-Ographies is made possible through a series of grants and the collaboration between UltraBarrio, a nonprofit organization called Connect Community, and the Gulfton area.

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Dress shirt, Flash photography, Vision care, Hair, Head, Glasses, Hairstyle, Coat, Sleeve, Gesture

The southwest community of Gulfton is located in an area known for being one of the densest areas in the City of Houston with the least amount of "green space," making it difficult for the residents to gather. The goal of Roaming Cart-Ographies centers around the idea of finding ways through placemaking that, in turn, bring the community together.

UltraBarrio used the visitor parking lots and courtyards as an opportunity to show that these "forgotten spaces" can be utilized as spaces where residents can communally gather. Ansari and Martinez sought to produce a design that clearly radiated it was part of the community.

Ultimately, they conceived the idea to design a series of mobile furniture for community and outreach events, including Story Day, Culinary Day, Music Day, and Green Day. From a design standpoint, the carts are considered extremely sturdy. Each cart, made to be natural and adaptable to the operator's needs, is on top of a steel chassis that can hold 600 pounds, allowing for ample storage.

Below: An illustration representing the roaming cart-ographies concept; photos from community events utilizing the carts

Bringing design empathy to Gulfton was important to UltraBarrio. Additionally, Ansari has strong ties to the area. Growing up in Gulfton and having firsthand experience, Ansari learned sharing is an essential value to the community.

“Part of my childhood was in Gulfton, in one of the many apartment complexes prevalent throughout the community. I deeply connect with what the density of cities produces,” Ansari explained. “In Gulfton the density in population generates a necessity of sharing and trading skills with an undercurrent of informal entrepreneurship.”

Ansari understands that while the community does not have an ideal gathering space, members of the area still come together to utilize the carts, demonstrating the community’s ability to provide for themselves through entrepreneurship.

“For some it’s what makes ends meet, for others the sharing of craft and cuisine just needs more visibility to go farther,” Ansari explained. “This project exhibits these culturally entrenched skills through different types of events supporting the local entrepreneur. Yet these events, taking place in hot parking lots, highlight a community gathering together despite their open space and green space deficits.”

Having the opportunity to give back to Gulfton left Ansari and Martinez feeling honored and wanting to work harder to design something that would respond to the community's needs. They find the most fulfillment in seeing pieces of the collection as a central part of community life.

Both winning projects will be featured in the September/October issue of Texas Architect Magazine and online here.


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