Seeing The World Through An Architect's Eyes

Page Senior Principal Larry Speck is also an educator. He is a former dean of the School of Architecture and a current architecture professor at the University of Texas at Austin. One of the reasons Larry is a Topaz Medallion recipient, the highest honor bestowed on an architectural educator, is his ability to make architecture understandable for everyone. Student journalist Danielle Lopez agrees.

She wrote of Larry's introductory architecture course that he describes it as "an overview of how architecture interacts with and shapes society." Below is an excerpt from her article in Texas Alcalde. The link to the full article is at the end. Read on to understand how Larry explains architecture. 

The topic of today’s class is “geography, topography, and ecology,” a lecture about how architecture physically interacts with the environment. When a natural disaster strikes, Speck points out that we are quick to call it an act of God. But with careful planning, there are ways to prevent cities from being destroyed. I learn about detention ponds, which are excavated areas installed near bodies of water to protect against flooding, and impervious cover, which is any type of man-made surface that doesn’t absorb rainfall, including patios, driveways, and sidewalks.

Before we leave, Speck asks the class to take out index cards and mark their names. At the end of every lecture, he poses a question to the room that asks students to apply the day’s lesson to their actual lives.

“On a scale of one to 10, when you’re buying a house 10 years from now, how important will these preventative details be?” he asks us. He later tells me nearly 80 percent of the class marked nine or higher.

“I would say I’m a 9 or 10,” reads one student’s card. “I remember moving into a house two days before Hurricane Harvey and it not flooding because my dad chose a neighborhood outside of the 500 year flood plain.”

Another card reads: “Before I took this class, I fell somewhere between a 1 and 5. I enjoyed the environment superficially, but wouldn’t commit to respecting it in architecture.”It’s a perfect example of what Speck hopes his students take away from class.

To read Danielle Lopez's full article in The Alcalde, click here