HOK architecture executive serves as Peña Professor

Leads architectural programming seminar

Steven A. Parshall, FAIA, senior vice president of one of the world’s largest architectural firms, was recently awarded the prestigious William M. Peña Professorship in Information Management at Texas A&M University’s College of Architecture for the fall 2002 semester.

A fellow in the American Institute of Architects, Parshall is senior vice president for Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK). He also serves as practice director for HOK Consulting. According to the January 2001 World Architecture magazine, HOK is the world’s second largest architectural firm.

“We were delighted to have an industry leader of Steven Parshall’s caliber on the architecture faculty,” said Robert E. Johnson, director of the CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry at Texas A&M. “His professional and academic contributions have greatly advanced communications between architects and their clients, adding considerable value to the practice of architecture. As Peña Professor, he greatly enhanced our academic and research initiatives.”

The Peña Professorship was created in 1990 by the CRS Center to honor Willie Peña FAIA, a founding partner of the Caudill, Rowlett, and Scott (CRS) architectural firm, acquired by HOK in 1994. Peña was widely known for his pioneering work in architectural programming and for developing an innovative programming process called problem seeking; also the name of a textbook he coauthored with John Focke and William Caudill.

Peña later collaborated with Parshall on the fourth edition of “Problem Seeking,” which remains a standard textbook in architectural programming courses throughout the nation. According to the book, the architect’s first task, programming the requirements of a proposed building, is often the most important.

“Good buildings don’t just happen,” Peña and Parshall wrote in their text, “They are planned to look good and perform well, and come about when good architects and good clients join in thoughtful, cooperative effort.”

Like Peña, Parshall’s professional life has been dedicated to increasing architects’ understanding of client needs and enhancing the provision of pre-design services. Through benchmarking, training and publishing, he has expanded the architect’s role in architectural programming and in research and evaluation of the built environment.

A product of the University of Illinois, Parshall earned three degrees there: a bachelor of science in architecture, 1973; a master of architecture, 1977; and a master of business administration, 1978. He has been associated with HOK since 1977. In recent years, Parshall has focused primarily on assisting major corporations with the development of comprehensive facility management plans.

“I am quite honored to be chosen for this prestigious position honoring my good friend and colleague, Willie Peña,” Parshall said upon receiving the appointment. “Additionally, I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to teach at one of the world’s top-rated architecture schools.”

While at A&M, Parshall taught a graduate architecture seminar exploring effective client/team communication.

“This seminar,” he said, “is for students with an interest in the challenges facing architects, planners, engineers and constructors that require innovation in the use of technology for successful communication and knowledge transfer among project teams and client/user organizations.”

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