Hines College Alum Honored for Historic Preservation Legacy

David Bucek, FAIA (’90) receives Preservation Houston’s 2024 President’s Award

by Stephen Schad • March 25, 2024

On March 8, Preservation Houston, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1978 and dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture in Houston and Texas, honored alumnus David Bucek, FAIA (’90), with the 2024 President’s Award. The recognition spotlights the Hines College alumnus’ commitment to safeguarding Houston’s historic and influential architectural past.

Bucek graduated from the University of Houston College of Architecture with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1990 and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design with a Master of Arts in Architecture in 1992. For over 25 years he has served as principal at his firm Stern and Bucek Architects.

above: A portrait of bucek by his daughter and photographer, Sydney bucek

above: One of Bucek's favorite memories at the Hines College included building a full-scale replica of the Tempietto, designed by Donato Bramante, in Rome for an architecture history class (Photo by hester Hardaway)

Interior design, Black-and-white

Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design? What drew you to design?
From a young age, I wanted to attend the architecture program at the University of Texas and was even accepted. However, after attending an orientation tour of the UT Austin campus, a friend in the administration at the University of Houston invited me to tour the College of Architecture at UH. I met with then associate dean Peter Wood and was intrigued by the older “temporary” architecture buildings, which resembled art studios with a creative vibe. It was then that I decided to attend UH. Unfortunately, I never experienced the older buildings. I started my college career in 1986, when the new architecture building, designed by Philip Johnson, opened.

I grew up working with my dad, a contractor in Wharton, Texas. My favorite high school classes were art, history, and woodshop. Architecture allowed me to incorporate my experiences and the activities I enjoyed the most.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time on campus? Was there a particular professor who influenced your education?
My favorite memory at the Hines College was helping to build a full-scale replica of the Tempietto in Rome, made out of plywood, cardboard, sepia paper, and hot glue. The project was part of our second-year history survey class. The top of the roof extended to the third floor of the atrium and was quickly disassembled/demolished once the fire marshal discovered the rather significant flammable fire hazard.

I was very fortunate to have had several influential professors at the College, each with a different focus, including Robert “Bob” Timme, Robert “Griff” Griffin, Geoffrey Brune, John Perry, and Bruce Webb.

Tell us about a typical day in your job. Do you have a particular design or business philosophy?
Architecture is a team effort for our firm, engineers, and clients. Much of our time is spent coordinating our projects’ program requirements, along with technical and scheduling issues. I also spend a lot of time in the field, initially visiting sites as potential projects. If we successfully secure a project, I enjoy measuring the site to help create the as-built drawings. Measuring is a great way to understand a project. We are also involved with recurring client meetings, which are increasingly virtual. However, construction meetings are always in the field, offering an important perspective that would be harder to comprehend if held virtually from the office.

Our primary goal is to serve our clients. Given that no two sites are the same, and each client and their program and budget will differ from the next, projects should be custom-tailored. We can design new modern buildings of our time and also respectfully rehabilitate significant historical projects with new construction as recessive as possible. While our projects often appear very different, which is recommended, each can have a similar attention to detail. Therefore, the specific project’s needs drive outcomes, not a look or style.

Above: Of the many restoration projects bucek has worked on, he's proud of his work restoring the menil house, apollo mission control center, and the eldorado ballroom (menil and space center Photos by hester hardaway; eldorado photo by sydney bucek)

What is one career accomplishment of which you are particularly proud? How do you feel the College prepared you for this?
As an architect, I have been fortunate to work on many renovations and restorations of significant homes and structures in Houston and Texas, including restoring the Menil House, the Apollo Mission Control Center at the Johnson Space Center, and The Eldorado Ballroom.

Cherish your experiences. As a student, every time I traveled to Texas Art Supply to get supplies, I would drive down Elgin Street. I always noticed the interesting building across from Emancipation Park, but I was unsure what the building was then. Fast forward to now, I understand and appreciate the historic Eldorado Ballroom still sitting there today. I enjoyed being part of the recent team effort to rehabilitate the venue for new generations.

What is one valuable lesson you learned during your time at the Hines College?
One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the value of spending time with and working alongside my classmates. I still work closely with and collaborate with several of my former classmates in my professional practice.

What advice would you give to current architecture and design students?
Consider joining or volunteering to support a design/community-related organization. Volunteering is a great way to meet emerging professionals and established architects while contributing to efforts to appreciate and improve the quality of our communities through design.

Many organizations have committees that encourage student participation. Consider design-focused groups, including the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), the American Institute of Architects Houston (AIAH), and the Architecture Center Houston (ArCH). AIAH committees open to students include the Michael G. Meyers Design Competitions for high school students, the Gulf Coast Green/Committee on the Environment, the Historic Resources Committee, and the Residential Home Tour. ArCH committees include Kids in Architecture, the Gingerbread Build-Off, and Walking/Bicycle Tours. Other design-related groups in Houston include Houston Mod and Preservation Houston.



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