Noon Talk: Architecture: It is what it is, but it does not have to be
Fall 2020 Lecture Series: Race, Social Justice, and Allyship
Sep. 02, 2020
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Zoom Webinar

Register here

*Access a post-lecture Q & A with the speakers here on Cite Digital.

Anzilla Gilmore, assistant director for project management and engineering, Rice University, presents the Noon Talk “Architecture: It is what it is, but it does not have to be” at 12:00 p.m. via Zoom as part of the Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lecture Series. She will be joined by guest speakers Nicola Springer, executive vice president and director of pK-12 projects, Kirksey Architecture, Florence Tang, project manager, Design and Engineering, Houston Zoo, and Laura Vargas, project director, EYP Architecture & Engineering.

The panel will discuss the racial reckoning architecture must have to acknowledge its internal struggle with the culture of discrimination it perpetuates. They will review personal experiences and strategies that can be used to advance the profession.

Anzilla Gilmore's passion for architecture manifests itself through service. When she graduated from Prairie View A&M University in the late 90’s, she entered a profession where very few people looked like her.  She felt the lack of representation acutely and decided to take action to ensure that no black female that came after her would want for lack of representation.  Gilmore has dedicated herself to professional mentorship, community outreach and professional service through leadership in professional organizations for over 15 years.  She is a founder and the current treasurer of the Houston chapter of NOMA, sits on the National NOMA finance committee and is the founder and current advisor to the Architects Foundation Diversity Advancement Scholars Mentorship Program.  Gilmore was the 2019 chair of the AIA’s National Ethics Council and was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in February 2019.  In her community, Gilmore serves as the Vice President of the board of Municipal Utility District 23 in Fort Bend County and is a Lifetime member of the PVAMU National Alumni Association. 

Gilmore received a Bachelor of Architecture from the School of Architecture at Prairie View A&M University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington.   She became only the fifth female registered architect in the state of Texas and the first in the city of Houston in 2004.  She worked in traditional architectural practice in Waco and Houston before transitioning to project management.  Gilmore has worked as an owner’s representative in Higher Education for 16 years; first at the University of Houston and currently at Rice University where she is the Assistant Director for Project Management and Engineering.    
Gilmore is married and has three children.

Nicola Springer, AIA, LEED AP, is an Executive Vice President and the Director of pK-12 Projects at Kirksey Architecture. With over 21 years of educational design experience, Springer believes that architecture should be a learning tool that inspires creativity, engages users, and promotes a healthy and happy life.

As a woman of color in the architecture field, Springer hopes that her presence and passion is an inspiration for those who may see themselves in her. She hopes that her contributions reflect the power of design and its ability to engage all faces and voices, allowing for a multitude of stories to be shared in the built form.

Springer was formerly a Board member of the Rice Design Alliance and during her tenure was the Editorial Chair and an active contributor to the Cite Editorial Committee co-authoring of several articles for the magazine. A most recent article “Third Ward Quilt” was co-authored and illustrated with fellow Rice alum Ernesto Alvaro and Jamar Simien.

Springer is an award winning architect – she has been a recipient of AIA Houston’s Ben Brewer Young Architect Award and the Houston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Her educational work has also received many accolades including multiple AIA Houston Design Awards and the prestigious TASA/TASB Caudill Award for Texas School Architecture. Most recently Kirksey Architecture received the IIDA/ALA international award for Milby High School Library.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Princeton University and a Master of Architecture from Rice University. Springer has spoken professionally on the influences and advances of 21st century learning at Regional and National A4LE Conferences as well as Gulf Coast Green, The Green School National Conference, the TxA Annual Convention.

Florence Tang, Associate AIA, NOMA, LEED Green Associate, project manager, Design and Engineering, Houston Zoo, is an architectural designer, project manager, journalist and design activist trained in architecture and mass media studies. She has orchestrated and was a core part of architecture, design-build construction and renovation projects that have garnered local and international press such as: Metropolis, Texas Architect, Houston Chronicle, Houston Business Journal, Modern Luxury, Paper City, Texas Monthly, Popular Mechanics, 6sqft, ArchDaily, Plataforma Arquitectura, Arch Daily Brasil, 5osA Korea, Zhulong China, The Architect's Newspaper and The New York Times. 

She has also edited and written numerous articles that have been published in The (Brazosport) Facts, Houston Chronicle, Modern Luxury Texas Interiors, Texas Architect, The Architect's Newspaper and Cite of the Rice Design Alliance.

She manages and designs small, medium and large Capital Expenditure and Centennial projects in-house for the Department of Design and Engineering of the Houston Zoo, a beloved cultural institution and leader among wildlife conservation.

A past project that she managed and led the design efforts is the Brooklyn Studio in New York for award-winning artist Sean Kenney who works with LEGO bricks. It was double awarded with AIA Houston Design Awards for Interior Architecture and Renovation/Restoration.

As a young editor, she received an Honorable Mention Citation for editorial design from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.

She is a community leader having served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Rice Design Alliance, Youth Leadership Council and Sunflower Mission, a grassroots nonprofit NGO, directing the communications and media campaign, helped raise more than $2 million dollars, built more than 114 classrooms, and awarded more than 8,000 scholarships to impoverished students. She is a Founding Member of Women in Architecture Houston, JE:DI Houston and RSA Alums for Social Justice.

She has traversed the Dolomites, trekked through the jungles around the Mekong River, witnessed testimonies during a tribunal in The Hague, explored the streets of Tokyo and strolled along the beaches of Copacabana's calçada.

Laura Vargas is an Associate Principal and Project Director at EYP Architecture & Engineering in Houston, Texas. Over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to work on many complex and high-profile projects with companies and institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, University of Southern California, Dow Inc., and Shell Global. She is an active member of the University of Houston College of Architecture & Design Alumni Board and represents the Alumni voice on the UH CoAD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. She received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Houston in 2008 and is a practicing, registered architect in the State of Texas. She focuses on Higher Education and Science & Technology clients and has a particular passion for and expertise in laboratory design for life science and physical science researchers.

As a female, Mexican-American Architect, Vargas inherently understands and recognizes the issues and challenges minorities face in the architecture and design industry. She is often the only female in a room of men, regularly the only person of color, and almost always the only female of color. She began her path toward becoming an architect while studying at Lee College in Baytown, Texas in 2001. She transferred to the University of Houston in 2003 and began working in the architecture industry in 2007. It wasn’t until she began her career that she met a female architect of color, and nearly a decade had passed before personally knowing a female architect of Latin American decent. She is acutely familiar with the lack of diversity in the field of architecture and is both inspired and impassioned by those voices who have risen. She firmly believes in the quote “If not us, who? If not now, when?”. Though she recognizes that there is much work ahead, she is exciting for the future of our evolving industry and is committed to support the efforts in any way she can.

In her spare time, Vargas enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her two chihuahuas. An avid DIY-er, she normally has a home renovation project (or two) in the works. She enjoys traveling, running, and relishes the outdoors. On a beautiful, sunny day, one can almost always find her outside.

Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lectures are part of an initiative to acknowledge, understand, and act on systemic racism in the built environment. Invited designers, scholars, and activists will speak on the relationship between race, architecture, and, by extension, related questions of social equity, environmental justice, and gender parity. The aim of the lecture series is to foreground these issues in the school’s curriculum while more broadly fostering solidarity and action in architecture.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Please be sure to register online for each lecture to receive the link to join. For more information on all lectures and to register to attend, visit arch.rice.edu/latest/events and ricedesignalliance.org.
This lecture series is made possible through the generous support of the Betty R. and George F. Pierce Jr., FAIA, Fund and the William B. Coleman, Jr. Colloquium Fund for Architecture.
Rice Design Alliance’s Civic Forum is made possible through the generous support of the Humanities Research Center with additional support from the Texas Commission on the Arts. Funding also is provided by RDA Underwriters: Harvey |Harvey-Cleary, Tellepsen, W.S. Bellows Construction Corp., Hines, HKS, Inc., MLN Company, m Strategic Partners, TRIO Electric, and Walker Engineering, Inc. For RDA’s Houston Design Research Grant lunchtime lectures by awardees De Peter Yi (Faculty winner); Anna Fritz, Shree Kale, and Edward Liew (Student winners); and Sebastián López and Lene Sollie (Honorable Mention), please visit ricedesignalliance.org. The Houston Design Research Grant lunchtime lectures are made possible through the generous support of The Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation.




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