(Photo of AIAFW Chapter Presidents, 1994, Hotel Texas (courtesy of the author)
The Fort Worth Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (now AIA Fort Worth) was founded August 15, 1946; making today the 70th anniversary of the organization.
The earliest professional architectural organization in Texas – the Texas State Association of Architects ( TSAA ) was founded in 1886 and the group elected Fort Worth architect J.J. Kane as it’s first president. In 1913 TSAA became the Texas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the larger organization having been established February 23, 1857 in New York City. In 1924 the North Texas Chapter of the national AIA was created along with South and West Texas Chapters.
By 1937 a state registration law was passed, a ‘title’ act, which required licensing by registration examination and which created the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners. Two years later, in 1939, the Texas Society of Architects was formed with 47 charter members from around the state. The original Fort Worth Section of the TSA was created in 1941; 75 years ago this October.
In 1946, following World War II, the Fort Worth and Panhandle Sections of the TSA ceded to become their own chapters and a month later in September Dallas became the third chapter, dissolving the original North Texas Chapter of the AIA. There are now 14 chapters of the Texas Society of Architects (now TxA ) of which 8 are staffed.
In 1989, 50 years after the founding of the TSA, the state finally passed a ‘practice’ act restricting the actual practice of architecture and not simply the use of the title ‘architect’.
Throughout, the Fort Worth Chapter has been a significant element in the professional history of the practice and discipline of architecture in Texas. Many members have served in capacities both statewide and nationally and many have received awards at these tiers. Names such as Sanguinet and Staats, Wyatt C. Hedrick, Preston M. Geren and others resonate throughout the architectural history of the southwest.
The chapter office was staffed originally by Suzie Adams, Hon. AIA from her home and later in offices on West Vickery, White Settlement at Henderson (designed by Mark Gunderson, AIA ), 8th Avenue (designed by David Stanford, AIA ), West Seventh Street (designed by Joe Self, AIA ) and presently in leased space on Carroll Street. Adams retired in 2012 and Alesha Niedzela, Assoc. AIA now serves as Executive Director of the Chapter.
Paul Dennehy, AIA will serve next year as the president of the Texas Society of Architects bringing Fort Worth leadership full circle 131 years from J. J. Kane’s inaugural 1886 presidency of the TSAA.
Author, Mark Gunderson, AIA
List of charter members August 15, 1946 (including Chapter Officers)