Thursday, May 8, 2014

Docomomo US National Symposium 2014: Modernism in Texas

The Chapel of St. Basil, designed by Philip Johnson in 1997, on the University of St. Thomas campus in Houston. Photo by Kelly Little. 

Fans of Modern architecture flocked to Texas this March for the second annual Docomomo US National Symposium.  The symposium, which took place at the Philip Johnson-designed University of St. Thomas, examined Modernism's legacy and considered its future in Houston and throughout the country.  The conference was co-hosted by our friends at Houston Mod.

Charles Peveto, President of Mid Tex Mod, with
Liz Waytkus, Executive Director of Docomomo US. 
The symposium kicked off with a chapter forum at the Brutalist-style Alley Theatre in downtown Houston.   Leadership from Docomomo US chapters throughout the country came together to discuss issues facing their organizations including general chapter operations, the challenges of building membership, and the importance of social media.  The forum was followed by a walking tour of downtown Houston and a kick-off reception.  Friday and Saturday were filled with an impressive series of presentations by leading architectural historians, archivists, architects, preservationists, and educators about Modern architecture and preservation.  Specific topics ranged from Texas Modernism, the current state of preserving Modern buildings, the ground-breaking work of architectural archivists, and the challenge of preserving the ephemeral.  The symposium provided a national audience of Modern enthusiasts the chance to see many of the significant Modern resources we have here in Texas:  attendees learned about the work of O’Neil Ford at San Antonio’s Trinity University, the Superdome, the El Paso Public Library, radical Architect/Artist Doug Michels and his art agency Ant Farm, and how Modern architects dealt with the abundance of sunlight and heat here in Texas.  The sessions were followed by a bus tour of Modern Houston.

More information about the symposium is available on the Docomomo US website at  

Mid Tex Mod would like to thank Docomomo US and Houston Mod for organizing the symposium, and we join Docomomo in recognizing the sponsors, supporters, and volunteers who worked to make the event a resounding success: AIA Houston, Debner and Company, DSGN, Kuhl-Linscomb, Lantz Architects, Minnette Boesel Properties, Mitsubishi Electric, Susan Vaughan Foundation, SWCA, Texas Architect, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, University of St. Thomas, the Menil Collection, Brochsteins, and the Alley Theatre. 

Stay tuned for the next Docomomo US National Symposium, planned for June 3-7, 2015 in Minnesota. 
Attendees toured Rothko Chapel before an evening reception at the Menil Collection. Photo by Kelly Little.