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The Latest News and Achievements from UTA Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs Alumni

To submit news items, please contact Sara Abraham-Oxford at

February 2018

Bilal Caliskan ('17 MCRP), received a "Student Project Award" from the Midwest Section Texas APA board. His project thesis was titled: "Factors Making a Street a Vibrant Place: Comparing Street Users’ Vibrancy Perception between Main Street, Fort Worth, Texas, USA and Inonu Boulevard, Sivas, Turkey. The Section’s annual awards program recognizes outstanding planning efforts, innovative projects, best practices, and planning leadership, advocacy and education. The entries were evaluated based on originality, quality, implementation and the role of planners, among other category-specific criteria.

January 2018

Kevin Park ('17, BS Architecture), was selected to participate in the American Institute of Architecture Students CRIT Scholar fellowship program, Archinect reported. The program is supported by the AIA in partnership with several prominent architecture firms. Recipients receive a $1,000 grant for their research project and are matched with a mentor conducting research at an architecture firm. 

December 2017

Steven Duong (’13 MCRP), an urban designer with AECOM, was awarded the "Urban Pioneer Award" by the Greater Dallas Planning Council (GDPC)

November 2017

Wes Blair (’12 MPA) and Cape Girardeau, Mo. police chief, was named to the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board by Gov. Eric Greitens, STL News reported.

Renovations completed on the Chester W. Ditto Golf Course in Arlington provide new space for UTA’s golf teams to practice, according to Architect John Colligan (’80 BS, Architecture and ’86 MArch) performed the redesign.

September 2017

Bradley Ford (’07 MCRP) has been hired as assistant city manager for the city of Waco, KWTX reported. He was previously deputy city manager of Burleson.

Phillip Contreras (’90 BS, Architecture), an architect, focuses his company on providing architecturally minded design solutions to raising homes, the Houston Chronicle reported. His company Arkitektura offers their clients a turnkey elevation solution – accounting for permits, material and labor.

Diane Woodend Jones (’80 BS, Architecture), vice chair of the CAPPA advisory council and chairman of the board of Lea+Elliott, was honored by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Development Foundation’s Ethel S. Birchland Lifetime Achievement Award, Informed Infrastructure reported.

Steven Duong (’13 MCRP), a Dallas urban planner, was interviewed by The Dallas Morning News about the hyperloop, a futuristic mode of travel that would use levitating pods to shuttle people and goods across hundreds of miles in minutes. Duong said Texas is an ideal place for the hyperloop.

Eduardo Castañeda (’12 BS, Architecture and ’14 MArch) was highlighted in a D CEO Magazine article about the efforts of Dallas’ Latinos in Architecture group to mentor in the community. Castañeda joined the Latinos in Architecture group while a student at UTA.

Kenny Jefferson (’15 BS, Interior Design) was featured in The Shorthorn. Jefferson is a project coordinator in Facilities Management at UTA who served as the lead contact between campus operations and CAPPA while the CAPPA building was renovated in 2015. 

August 2017

Alfred Vidaurri Jr. (’79 BS, Architecture and ’82 MArch) has been elected secretary of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards' board of directors, reported. Vidaurri serves as vice president of Freese and Nichols Inc.

Richard Hebert (’93 MArch) recently passed his licensure exams and became a licensed architect, Biz New Orleans reported. He has been with Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects since 2006.

July 2017

Wayne Snell (’16 MPA) has been hired as director of neighborhood and inspection services for the City of Lewisville, the Lewisville Texan Journal reported.

James Ferrara’s (’96 MArch) work to build a classic villa, inspired by Italian architect Andrea Palladio, in Oak Cliff was profiled in Paper City Dallas. Ferrara studied Palladio while earning his master’s degree.

David Lee (’91 MArch) has been hired as senior project manager for Dallas architecture firm th+a, CityBizlist reported. The award-winning firm specializes in education and healthcare spaces.

April 2017

studioMET Architects was awarded the Decorative Center Houston Stars of Design Award for Architecture, the Houston Patch, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, and the Laredo Morning Times reported. Shawn Gottschalk (’06 MArch) is a partner at the award-winning firm.

Nick Nelson (’08 MLA) was honored by the Fort Worth Business Press as one of the 2017 40 Under 40 class. The award recognizes successful young professionals who are outstanding in their industries and communities. Nelson is associate principal at Pacheco Koch.

March 2017

William Gladbach (’97 BS, Architecture and ’85 BS, Civil Engineering) has been appointed managing director of the western region of Manhard Consulting, a civil engineering and surveying firm, several outlets, including KLKN ABC 8 in Lincoln, Neb., and WBND-LD ABC 57 in South Bend, Ind.,reported.

Porter Fuqua (’15 MArch) is relaunching historic Dallas-based Casci Plaster, PaperCity reported. Fuqua is an associate architect with J. Wilson Fuqua & Associates.

Kevin G. Sneed (’86 BS, Architecture) has been named Fellow of The American Institute of Architects. Sneed is partner and senior director of architecture with OTJ Architects in Washington, DC.

February 2017

Elizabeth Bigler ('13 BS, Architecture) was recently awarded The Construction Industry Association’s 2016 Magnolia award, Citybizlist reported. The Magnolia Award annually recognizes outstanding women in construction who demonstrate excellence in job performance, commitment to education, and demonstrate leadership in promoting a positive image for the construction industry.

Wendle Medford, who holds a master’s in public administration from UTA, has been appointed assistant city manager of the city of Forney, the Forney Messenger reported.

January 2017

Willow Park has chosen Carrie West as its new police chief, the Star-Telegram reported. West graduated from UTA with a master of public administration in 2007.

(UPDATE: Chief West was sworn in on February 1, according to the Star-Telegram.)

The new Texas Rangers ballpark in Arlington set to open in 2020 will be designed by Dallas-based HKS, the same company that designed AT&T Stadium, the American Airlines Center, and UTA's College Park Center, WFAA 8, The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Business Journal reported. A Star-Telegram editorial endorsed the announcement. Ralph Hawkins, a UTA Distinguished Alum, is chairman emertius of HKS, Inc.

December 2016

Eli Ochoa, president and CEO of ERO Architects and a UTA School of Architecture alumnus, recently completed work on the McAllen Performing Arts Center, Progress Times reported. 

Malcolm Oliver, a planner, was featured in a Public Now article about how he has influenced cities and even countries about municipal planning and its ability to affect social change. Oliver earned his doctorate in public and urban administration from UTA.

November 2016

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed John ‘Skip’ Ogle of Tyler to a seat on the Neches River Authority Board of Directors, PublicNow reported. Ogle received his master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from UTA.

UTA alumna Allison J.H. Thompson, director of economic development and tourism for the city of Cedar Hill, is participating in a webinar organized by the International Economic Development Council, Planetizen reported. Thompson holds a master’s degree in urban affairs from UTA.

September 2016

Boback Firoozbakht ('08 BS), creative director at the Dallas-based firm BDDM, was recognized by Builder Magazine with a 2016 Design Award for the Deloache Residence project. Todd Hamilton, professor of architecture, served the project as the architect of record.

In its seventh year celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, the AIA Dallas Latinos in Architecture Network presents ENLACES, a juried exhibition showcasing Latino architects and design professionals in Dallas.

A number of CAPPA faculty and alumni are among the selected exhibitors that will be honored at ENLACES and have their work exhibited at the Dallas Center for Architecture:

  • Carlos Bautista (MArch student, ‘15 BS), Olsen Studios
  • Dennis Chiessa (‘07 BS, ‘09 MArch), CAPPA (Lecturer of Architecture)
  • Alma Espinoza, Assoc. AIA (’11 BS, ’15 MArch), WDG Architecture
  • Wendy Hurtado (MArch student, ‘16 BS), Far + Dang
  • Ricardo Leon, Assoc. AIA (’07 BS), CAPPA (Lecturer of Architecture) and Far + Dang
  • Miguel Mendez, (MArch student, ’16 BS)
  • Ricardo Munoz, AIA (’07 BS), CAPPA (Lecturer of Architecture) and Page

Exhibition Opening

Wednesday, September 28th

6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center

FREE event; please register to attend

Greg Hudson ('11 MPA) was named city manager of the City of Gilmer, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported. Hudson was previously city manager of the City of Sansom Park in Tarrant County from October 2013 until August 31, 2016.

August 2016

Steve Polasek ('93 MPA) has been named city manager of the City of Cleburne, the Cleburne Times Review reported. Polasek returns to Texas after serving as city manager for the City of Roswell, NM. Previously, Polasek was city manager for the City of Keller until 2012.

The City of Amarillo has appointed alumnus AJ Fawver as the city’s new planning director, KFDA CBS 10 reported. Fawver earned a master’s degree in public administration from UTA.

Norma Lehman ('00 BS), director of sustainability for The Beck Group, has earned the WELL Accredited Professional credential through the International WELL Building Institute. The accreditation places her among a group of leading professionals who are dedicated to supporting human health and well-being in the buildings that make up our communities.

James Stephenson NCARB, LEED® AP ('78 BS) has been named principal at VLK Architects. Stephenson will be responsible for the Fort Worth-based firm’s automobile dealership sector.

July 2016

Vinsen Faris ('93 MPA) has been named Bexar County-based Christian Senior Services’ new chief executive officer, Texas Non Profits reported. He is the former executive director of Johnson and Ellis counties Meals on Wheels.

June 2016

Ann Foss ('16 PhD) has joined the City of Arlington as Principal Planner where her duties include oversight of the Arlington Urban Design Center, a partnership between CAPPA and the City of Arlington.

Douglas Prude ('12 MCRP) has joined Downtown Dallas, Inc (DDI) as economic development and planning analyst. Prude has over 15 years of professional experience, spending the past four years in commercial real estate as the Director of Research for the Henry S. Miller family of companies.

May 2016

Michael Bennett ('83 MArch) was named Top Private CEO of the Year by Fort Worth Business. Bennett is principal of the architecture firm Bennett Benner Partners, a company that has shaped downtown Fort Worth. Bennett also serves on CAPPA's advisory council.

Enrique Mendez ('77 BArch) has joined HNTB Corp. as aviation project director–architecture and associate vice president, Aviation Pros reported. 

April 2016

The PECH Chandelier designed by Juan Rivera ('14 BS) with the Dallas firm martin&martindesign was featured in the May/June Issue of Luxe Magazine.

March 2016

Bryan Fenstermaker ('07 MPA,MCRP) has been named the new executive director for Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation, a non-profit real estate development/management company and a public space maintenance and enhancement organization in Philadelphia.

Dee Leggett ('14 MPA) has been appointed regional vice president of First Transit, Mass Transit reported.

Tommy Stewart, AIA (’74 BS, ’77 MArch) is featured in the March/April 2016 issue of Texas Architect for his work with Architecture for Humanity to build a school for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Zaida Basora, FAIA ('84 MArch) is the assistant director of public works for the City of Dallas and the 2016 president of AIA Dallas. This month AIA Dallas interviewed Zaida as part of the organization's leadership profile series.

The design team of Alex Worden (’07 BS) and Audrey Worden (’07 BS), collaborating as studioTJOA, were one of six winning entries for the “Reimagine a New York City Icon” competition, the 2016 Design Challenge sponsored by Metals in Construction magazine and the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York for the Most Innovative and Energy-Efficient Redesign of the Façade of 200 Park Avenue. Architects, engineers, students, designers, and others from all over the world were invited to submit their vision for recladding 200 Park Avenue (formerly the Pan Am Building, now the MetLife Building), which was built a half-century ago as the world’s largest corporate structure.