Apr. 23, 2019

Tuesday, April 23
5:00 p.m. Reception
6:00 p.m. Civic Forum

Brown Auditorium
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005

Admission is free and open to the public

Generous support for the Civic Forum 2019 reception is provided by the Astrodome Conservancy.


Tonight’s event is in remembrance of all the victims of yesterday’s plane crash, including Rice Architecture alumnus Scott Reagan Miller (M.Arch., 1993) and Rice Design Alliance members Marc Tellepsen and Mark Scioneaux, with a dedication by Andrew Albers, AIA

Rice Design Alliance's Civic Forum 2019 is taking on the urgent topic of urban obsolescence and the importance of maintaining, preserving, and reusing the historic fabric of our cities. At a critical moment in Houston's urban growth, what is the value of architecture in our city and our region and why should we care about preserving Houston's identity through its urban past? While some might argue that doing away with the past can be a sound business solution, is that really the case and does nostalgia really have anything to do with it?

Through the analysis of some of Houston's most relevant examples, Obsolescence will discuss the overarching factors that influence how we deal with change in the built environment - from regulations and tax policy, to cultural and political attitudes - all in an era in which preservation strategies are also acutely threatened by the environmental challenges of climate change. 


Daniel M. Abramson 
Professor of Architectural History and Director of Architectural Studies, Boston University
Daniel M. Abramson is an architectural historian whose research focuses on issues of economics, society, and architecture from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries.  He is the author of Obsolescence: An Architectural History (Chicago, 2016); Building the Bank of England: Money, Architecture, Society, 1694–1942 (Yale, 2005); and Skyscraper Rivals: The AIG Building and the Architecture of Wall Street (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001). He is also a founding director of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative with whom he is presently editing a volume on evidence and narrative in architectural history.  Other current projects are on postwar American government architecture and urbanism.  Abramson holds a B.A. in English and American Literature from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in art history from Harvard University. 

Dwayne Jones
Executive Director, Galveston Historical Foundation
Dwayne Jones serves as the executive director of the Galveston Historical Foundation, one of the largest not-for-profit historic preservation organizations working at the local level in the country. The organization oversees a wide range of programs, including preservation, help for owners of historic homes, educational projects for children, and large-scale public events.

Jones holds degrees in History and Asian Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio and holds a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Galveston Historical Foundation, Jones served as the executive director of Preservation Dallas. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), received the Dorothy Savage Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation from Preservation Dallas, and was named an Honorary Member of the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Joe Meppelink
Principal Partner and co-Founder, METALAB
Joe Meppelink co-founded METALAB in 2007, a multidisciplinary firm pursuing architecture, product design and public art project management.  Architecture efforts are centered on renovation, adaptive re-use, sacred spaces, creative workspace, and pavilions / park buildings. The firm’s renovation and adaptive re-use of Firestation 2 garnered multiple awards from Preservation Houston.

METALAB has, since its founding, also pursued product design and public art management with a focus on innovative strategies and methods of project delivery, advanced 3D modeling, and robotic fabrication.

Joe taught Design-Build seminars at Rice University from 2000-2002. At the University of Houston, he taught Design Studio and Digital Fabrication seminars from 2004-2013, and served as Director of Applied Research from 2010-2013, managing the Green Building Components (UHGBC) applied research program. He holds a Master of Architecture from Rice University and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Michigan.

Beth Wiedower Jackson 
Executive Director, Astrodome Conservancy
Beth Wiedower Jackson is a professional preservationist and community advocate for historic and cultural resources and currently leads the effort to champion the preservation and redevelopment of the iconic Houston Astrodome.

Prior to her leadership at the Conservancy, Beth worked for the National Trust for Historic Preservation for more than a decade in a variety of positions. Most recently, she served as the founder and senior staff member of the Houston Field Office, managing the preservation, restoration, and/or rehabilitation and reuse of nationally significant sites across Texas and the United States. Before moving to Houston, she directed a heritage-based economic development pilot program of the National Trust in the Lower Mississippi River Delta, revitalizing communities through cultural preservation.

Wiedower Jackson holds a Historic Real Estate Finance Certification from the National Development Council and a Master’s in Public History from the University of South Carolina.

Moderated by Daniel M. Abramson, Professor of Architectural History and Director of Architectural Studies, Boston University

Rice Design Alliance's Civic Forum 2019 is organized in collaboration with Daniel M. Abramson, History of Art & Architecture Department, Boston University

Additional support is provided by the following Rice Design Alliance members:

ABB Group
Crawford Electric Supply
D.E. Harvey Builders
m Strategic Partners
Putterman Scharck & Associates
Louisa Stude Sarofim
Walker Engineering
Walter P Moore
Charlotte and Larry Whaley

This event is also made possible by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and the Texas Commission for the Arts.  


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