Pursuit of Great Projects

2004 Rowlett Lecture examines history,
philosophy of leading architecture firm

The 2004 Rowlett Lecture, held Feb. 6, 2004 at Texas A&M University, offered participants a unique glimpse into the history of one of the nation's leading design firms, RTKL Associates, Inc., a worldwide planning, architecture, design and creative services organization.

While there's no such thing as an ordinary Rowlett lecture, what started as a panel discussion of the RTKL's ongoing "Pursuit of Great Projects," wound up with a delightful, informative demonstration of the firm's passion for collaboration. During the last half of the conference, the panel engaged the audience in a highly interactive and provocative question and answer session.

"Having a question and answer format let students focus the conference on topics important to us," said Niki Manning, an undergraduate environmental design major. "This afternoon was a great experience for us all."

"The 400 students, faculty and professionals attending the lecture departed with a distinct impression of the RTKL philosophy — developing great work for great clients in a firm that supports the total person and not just the bottom line.

"Apart from the pleasure of seeing long-time friends, former students with success stories, and making new acquaintances, the program was a clear demonstration of what makes RTKL such an outstanding firm," said David Woodcock, an A&M architecture professor.

The Rowlett Lecture kicked off with an overview of RTKL?s history presented by Harold Adams '61, chairman emeritus of RTKL and a 1998 Outstanding Alumnus of the A&M College of Architecture. That was followed by an exploration of the firm's values by RTKL Chairman Paul Jacob. The panel discussions scheduled to follow quickly turned into an open format discussion led by audience questions.

"We were all impressed with the sincerity that seemed to come through, the quality of the questioning/inquisition, and the genuine, almost heart-wrenching passion the students clearly have for the architectural craft," said panelist Thom McKay, vice president of RTKL.

The John Miles Rowlett Lecture Series is sponsored by the CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry, the Texas A&M University College of Architecture and the Texas Architectural Foundation, whose generosity makes this annual educational lecture available for students at no cost. The lecture series was endowed in 1979 through a grant to the Texas Architectural Foundation from the founders of CRS and Mrs. Virginia Rowlett. The goal of the lecture series is to bring speakers of national and international significance to the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University.

The original firm of CRS was established in 1946 by William W. Caudill and John M. Rowlett, professors of architecture at Texas A&M. The CRS Center was founded by CRSS, a later incarnation of CRS, and Texas A&M to advance the study of leadership and management in the design and construction industry. More details about the CRS Center, its mission and valuable resources are available online at http://crscenter.tamu.edu.

A complete transcript (305 KB PDF file) of the 2004 Rowlett Lecture, "RTKL: Pursuit of Great Projects."

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