New Travel Award Opens Worldview for Architecture and Design Students

Prominent Houston architect establishes Ziegler Travel Fellowship Award

by Stephen Schad • January 24, 2023

Scott Ziegler, AIA, founder and senior principal of Ziegler Cooper Architects, has established the Ziegler Travel Fellowship Award at the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design with a gift of $25,000. Motivated by personal experience and the success of a similar program at his firm, the new award seeks to enrich students’ cultural understanding of the world through international travel.

Inspiration Abroad

At a very young age, Ziegler spent six weeks traveling with his family throughout Europe. In Cologne, Germany, where his family lineage originated, Ziegler experienced quite a transformational moment.

During a visit to the Cologne Cathedral, the tour guide explained that cathedrals were the work of several hundred years. The people who began work on the Cologne Cathedral – the original masons and stone builders, the people with the vision for the monumental structure – knew they would never see it finished; however, they made it their lives’ work.

“It riveted me that people could be so inspired and leave such a legacy, even though they would only build part of it,” shared Ziegler.

His visit to the Cathedral sparked the beginning of his love of architecture. Later on in his career, Ziegler Cooper Architects would go on to design the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Downtown Houston, and Ziegler would even see his daughter married there in a full-circle moment.

Smile, Bookcase, Watch, Shelf, Book, Publication, Shelving, Building, Customer, Retail

Above: Scott Ziegler, AIA

Choosing Architecture

As the child of two business-oriented parents, Ziegler graduated from high school and went on to study business administration at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He had not grown up with a strong arts presence in his life. During his last semester at Trinity, Ziegler enrolled in painting and music appreciation courses and discovered his artistic side. This experience opened his eyes to the possibility of a future in architecture.

Following his studies at Trinity, Ziegler pursued a new graduate architecture program just beginning at Rice University. The program brought together twelve students of varying backgrounds, each bringing experience in different disciplines, including business, English, divinity, economics, chemistry, and more.

Above: Scenes from ziegler's travels in india, japan, and austrailia

“Sparks were flying. We were truly a diversified, multidisciplinary team. The professors had never heard conversations like the ones we brought to the class,” said Ziegler. “We were all older, more mature, and we had made the distinct decision to pursue architecture.”

When Ziegler graduated from Rice, he formed his firm Ziegler Cooper Architects in 1977. While his vision for the firm took time to develop, he found inspiration from Rice University’s rich history. In its mere beginnings, Rice’s first president, Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett, sought to create a school of higher education that had no limit and personified excellence.

“Inspirational architecture enriches people’s lives, uplifts the human spirit, and provides a constant vision of excellence,” shared Ziegler. “Beauty personifies excellence. You do not have to speak the language of architecture to feel beauty.”

Ziegler impresses upon his firm’s staff that they should pursue beauty in everything they do. If the firm pursues beauty and succeeds, it will be a respectable practice.

Above: Cody Blanchard, an employee at ziegler cooper, is a recipient of one of ziegler's travel fellowships

Giving a Worldview to Others

Fueled by his experience as a child visiting Cologne, travel has played a significant part in Ziegler’s life as well as in the opportunities he provides others.

“I love to travel because it inspires me. Each trip becomes a tapestry, not only in my life but of what I have learned,” said Ziegler. “Many of my experiences abroad stick in my mind to ultimately become the inspiration for what I do.”

For many years, Ziegler has offered a travel fellowship award for employees at his firm, allowing them to travel anywhere in the world. When they return, employees share how their experience changed their lives, thus inspiring others. After seeing the value of the Ziegler travel fellowship in his firm, he knew it was time to expand the opportunity to students studying architecture in higher education.

“I have always believed everyone needs to get a great education,” Ziegler said. “They need to travel the world and understand other people and cultures to see how we all fit together as a society.”

Ziegler turned to Peter Zweig, his good friend of over forty years and professor at the UH Hines College of Architecture and Design, for assistance in setting up the travel fellowship at the Hines College. Together, they worked to integrate the program into the College’s curriculum, where awardees will benefit from the travel fellowship and also receive course credit.

Above: Hai Luu traveled to spain thanks to ziegler's travel fellowships

“The generous philanthropy of Scott Ziegler, AIA, establishes an annual international travel scholarship for two upper-level students to enrich their cultural understanding of people, architecture, and local food,” said Zweig. “They will share these experiences with colleagues and the public and, in turn, inspire them to make our world a better place.”

Ziegler Cooper Architects hires many Hines College alumni, whom Ziegler has found exceptionally talented and passionate. He hopes that by establishing the Ziegler Travel Fellowship Award, students will have the chance to develop a worldview that will empower their professional careers and encourage themselves and others.

“From my travels, I have come to believe that, in large part, the great cities of the world – Rome, Paris, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Singapore – are all measured by the quality of their architecture,” shared Ziegler. “If they do not have good architecture, they are kind of a lost spirit, and the city never blossoms. Great cities had great leaders with great vision. In life, very few people have the opportunity to do great things. We are in a profession that values creativity. We are creators gifted with the blessing to do great things.”


Back to TOP

Back to TOP


More College of Architecture and Design Stories

Vision care, Dress shirt, Forehead, Nose, Glasses, Chin, Smile, Eyewear, Sleeve, Collar

"My advice would be to cherish the opportunity to design all things, no matter how small the project might be. Give each project the same attention, be it a table, a tiny house, or 10,000 square foot building."

Winning design showcases crucial relationship between client and designer

Interior design, Swimming pool, Plant, Shade, Water, Rectangle, Architecture, Flooring, Floor, Leisure

A conversation with Andrew Kudless, the College's William D. Kendalll Endowed Professor of Design Technologies, exploring AI and design education

Material property, Font
Material property, Font, Rectangle
Rectangle, Font
Mammal, Font