Architecture Professor Honored for His Contributions to Education

Dec. 20, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — Lawrence (Larry) Speck, distinguished professor and former dean of the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architecture Education, the highest honor awarded to an architectural educator, from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

Larry Speck

The medal honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to architectural education for a decade or more.

Speck joined the faculty of the School of Architecture in 1975 after teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for three years. He was the founding director of the Center for American Architecture and Design from 1982-1990, an associate dean of the school from 1990-1992 and dean of the school from 1992-2001. In 1975, he founded Lawrence W. Speck and Associates, and since 1999 he has been the principal of the award-winning architectural firm, Page Southerland Page.

His design work has appeared in more than 90 publications in the United States, England, Brazil, Italy, Japan and Germany, and he has been featured in the The New York Times, Forbes, The Atlantis, Architectural Record, Architecture and Architectural Digest. He has received more than 50 national, state and local design awards over the last two decades.

Although Speck is nationally recognized for his commitment to urbanism and regionalism (incorporating local culture and climate into design), he is perhaps best known for his commitment to educating students and mentoring hundreds of current and former students. His classes attract more students (architecture majors and non-majors) than any professor at the university, making him one of the most influential teachers on campus.

"I have met a great many academicians and professionals around the word in my work, including those of the highest caliber, and Larry Speck is among the most prominent I have encountered," said Craig Dykers, founder of the internationally renowned design firm, Snohetta. "This is due not only to his skills and professional abilities but also his qualities as a mentor and his desire to treat each person he meets and each project he undertakes with sensitivity and character."

During his tenure as dean of the School of Architecture, the school grew in size and stature. The school, once recognized only at a regional level, began to achieve national prominence.

"By the time Larry ended his deanship, (the school) regularly ranked among the nation’s top institutions, with an outstanding faculty, some of the best facilities in the country, an endowment over $20 million, and an eager and intelligent student body," said Reed Kroloff, former editor-in-chief of Architecture magazine, former dean of architecture at Tulane University and now director of the Cranbook Academy of Art.

Speck was awarded the 2009-2010 University of Texas System Regents Outstanding Teaching Award, the 2007 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, the 2005 Chancellor’s Council Teaching Award (the highest award for undergraduate teaching given by The University of Texas System), the 2005 Edward J. Romieniec Award given by the Texas Society of Architects to an outstanding architectural educator and the 2004 Outstanding Teaching Award in the School of Architecture.

The Topaz Medallion will be presented at the 2011 AIA National Convention and Design Expo in New Orleans and at the ACSA annual meeting in Quebec.

For more information, contact: Amy Crossette, Office of the President, 512-573-1078.

13 Comments to "Architecture Professor Honored for His Contributions to Education"

1.  django said on Dec. 20, 2010

Congratulations to a fine professor and one who not only sparked my own interest in Architecture with his excellent undergraduate course, "Architecture and Society", but helped me get into the UT School of Architecture graduate school.

Also having taken his Theory of Architecture course, I can attest to the fact that this man knows and loves Architecture and conveys this vast knowledge and understanding to his students. He is erudite without being boring; passionate without being shrill.

Larry Speck makes buildings and design come alive. He makes the thinking that goes into what is built an integral part of how one looks at each building and makes it impossible to simply see without thinking ever again.

Thank you, Professor Speck.

(Sorry you didn't get chosen as Mother Ginger.)

2.  R. Craig Williams AIA said on Dec. 21, 2010

Mr. Professor Dean Speck, Larry, as a teacher and design counselor for me when I was a graduate student, accepted my sometimes unusual design persuasions with understanding and guidance. I appreciate that and the thought still gives me a smile. Congratulations and thank you to a well deserving fellow!

3.  Sam Panning said on Dec. 21, 2010

This guy is amazing! He deserves this reward without a doubt. I love how humble, passionate, and senstive he is about every aspect of design and life.

4.  David Guzman said on Jan. 5, 2011

While this is obviously an echo of the crowd, Dr. Speck is really an amazing professor. As an undergraduate, I had the privilege of taking his Architecture and Society class. To date, it is still one of the most memorable experiences of my studies at UT.

Interestingly, I never had the guts to converse with him throughout his course. Two years after taking his class, I ran into him a few months shy of graduation at a conference at GSD&M listening to a speech from Bill Clinton. I decided to pounce on the opportunity and engaged in a long and meaningful conversation with him. To date, that is still one of the most memorable interactions I have had with any professor, as Dr. Speck proceeded to encourage me to unveil and follow my passion.

I couldn't envision a more deserving recipient.


5.  Robert Ellzey, MD said on Jan. 6, 2011

Larry, when you arrived to speak to the Retired Physician's Organization to tell about the Bergstrom Terminal you designed, I asked you what kind of picture projection equipment you would need. You said you didn't need any. I thought we had made a huge mistake in our speaker choice!
How much we learned about how the interaction of people and architecture were combined to result in such a fantastic terminal facility! Thanks!

6.  Scott Johnson said on Jan. 6, 2011

Education comes in many flavors-
While I did not have the pleasure of Larry's direct instruction- he was part of my 3rd year review... as I recall his comment was "this guy needs a kick in the #%(*&".

Accurate then, accurate now! Thanks, Larry!

7.  Hai Nguyen said on Jan. 6, 2011

It is great to see Professor Speck honored with the Medallion and other awards. Although I am not in the architecture field, taking his excellent Architecture and Society class 20 years ago undoubtedly deepened the way I view structures and their interaction with surroundings. He is truly a gifted and passionate educator.

8.  Chris Nino said on Jan. 7, 2011

As a freshman in, then Prof. Speck's, Architecute and Society class I knew there was something special about this man. Nearly 30 years later, I still remember how enthusiactic he was to teach, share and guide. Well done, and congratualtions!

9.  Leland Horstmann, RA said on Jan. 7, 2011

Congratulations Larry! Very well deserved. Larry was one of the most outstanding teachers I had at UT. His passion, quality and intellectual leadership for the formative relationship of guiding a student on the path of growing his own mind is unsurpassed. It has been over 30 years since being in Larry's design class, but he has been with me throughout my professional architectural life.

10.  Rosaura said on Jan. 12, 2011

If only your class was open, I would take it this semester.

11.  Joy Jiao said on Jan. 13, 2011

I had the honor to take Professor Speck's Architecture and Society a few years ago. I was usually shy in class and tend to sit in the back on the room, but his lecture was so exciting I moved more to the front every class. Eventually I sat in the third row for the rest of the semester. I only regret I did not try to converse with him more. Congratulations Professor Speck!

12.  Harold Billings said on Jan. 16, 2011

One of the great pleasures that I had during the many years that I served in the University was the time spent with Larry in various activities relating to improvement of the campus. Remarkably bright, a shining personality. So very deserving of recognition.

13.  Aubrey Weaver, Jr. said on Jan. 18, 2011

I was also a student in Professor Speck's wildly popular Architecture and Society course. He was incredibly well spoken and engaging, an inspirational gentleman scholar.