This July, Professor David Heymann joined AIA Austin and the Austin Foundation for Architecture for two webinar discussions about John Saunders Chase – the first Black graduate of The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, and the first Black registered architect in Texas – and the home Chase designed for his family in 1959. The discussions offered a first look at the research for Heymann’s forthcoming book, John S. Chase – The Chase Residence, published by the Tower Books imprint of the University of Texas Press.
When Chase graduated from UTSOA in 1952, no Houston architecture firm would hire him. Chase petitioned the state for special permission to take the licensing exam. By 1959, he ran his own thriving firm and had established a position of remarkable influence in Houston’s social, political, and economic life.
The low-slung brick home that Chase completed for his family in 1959 was Houston’s first modernist house with a true interior courtyard, a form with which other progressive architects were only starting to experiment. The house was initially built with a protective inward focus, but in 1968 Chase altered the architecture fundamentally. He transformed the hidden courtyard into a great, open, double-height social room inside, and the heretofore opaque public exterior of the house into a neighborhood lantern.
Beautifully illustrated with drawings of the house by UTSOA graduate students, John S. Chase – The Chase Residence examines how the architecture of this seminal but little-known house frames the life lived within it. It places the house in the larger context of Chase’s architectural career and his times, and features essays by Heymann and Rice University’s Stephen Fox.
For more information about the book and to pre-order a copy which will be available in August, visit Tower Books / The University of Texas Press. Please order the book through Tower Books: proceeds return to the School of Architecture. For more information about the life and architecture of John Saunders Chase, watch a recording of the April 2019 Breaking Barriers panel discussion about the legacy of Chase available here.