Architecture Center Houston History

The Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects was chartered in 1913 and the Houston Architecture Foundation was established in 1986. The organizations work together to promote awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the ways in which architecture, design and urban planning influence and enhance the quality of life in our community. The pursuit of this mission lead to the opening of the original Architecture Center Houston (ArCH) in 2007.

 
  The original Architecture Center Houston, located in the Bayou Place II build-out of the former Albert C Thomas Convention Center in Houston’s Theater District.

The original Architecture Center Houston, located in the Bayou Place II build-out of the former Albert C Thomas Convention Center in Houston’s Theater District.

 

In the ten years since opening, Architecture Center Houston’s programming has grown exponentially to include traveling and original exhibits, lectures, panel discussions, book talks, walking and bicycle tours and K-12 education programs.

In addition to hosting the programming of AIA Houston and the rebranded ArCH Foundation, ArCH has partnered with and played host to programs and events for Houston institutions such as Houston Public Library, City of Houston, METRO, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Preservation Houston, Association of General Contractors, Rice Design Alliance, HGAC, Prairie View A&M University, Rice University and the University of Houston. ArCH programs such as the 99k House Competition and Women in Architecture Exhibit have traveled nationally and highlighted Houston’s leadership in the architecture and design community. 

In 2012, the combined boards of directors recognized that ArCH was outgrowing its current location and was ready for a more permanent and prominently located home. After collecting input through a member and public survey, and touring more than 30 buildings and sites, a special task force representing both boards approved the purchase of our new space located at 902 Commerce Street in 2016. 

  The new center is inside the historic 1906 B.A. Riesner Building located across the street from Allen’s Landing, the site of Houston’s founding.

The new center is inside the historic 1906 B.A. Riesner Building located across the street from Allen’s Landing, the site of Houston’s founding.

As a part of the Bayou Lofts complex, it is in a rapid revitalizing neighborhood in downtown Houston’s only historic district. A two stage competition of local AIA Houston architects resulted in the selection of the award winning small firm Murphy Mears to design the restoration and renovation of the new storefront center. The cutting edge design is intended to serve as a model for sustainability and resilience in architecture.