Austin History Center
The Goddess of Liberty just before crews hoisted her to the top of the Capitol, February 1888.
Credit: Austin History Center
Norman Alston
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Norman Alston

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The Job That No One Really Wants

Architects and politics don’t seem to mix well.

Architects and politics don’t seem to mix well. Architects have generally operated as if they are mostly above the political fray. Individually, many are very active and highly motivated, but where the profession is concerned, politics is just so, you know, not US. So because of a general lack of enthusiasm for the subject, and in the interest of not offending anyone who is a client, or might be a client, or knows someone who might one day be a client, or who might be an influencer with people who know people who might be a client, or who might be a journalist..., we mostly just like to leave the politics to actual politicians.

The bad news is that politics doesn’t feel the same way. Many of its practitioners aren’t interested in leaving architects alone. We architects are social animals. Our jobs naturally place us in the center of a large and diverse community of collaborators, full of people and professions who have their own roles and their own interests in the projects we undertake. We all know that the design and construction of our built environment is too large for any of us to do it all by ourselves, so there are many who share in the process. Everyone has a piece of that pie. The trouble is, architects have a pretty big piece, and we have adversaries who want some of it. Some of our friends likely do also, if we are to be completely honest. The idea that, “If we just leave that unpleasant, boring stuff alone, it will leave us alone in return” is naïve at best.

The Texas Architects Committee, commonly just known as TAC, is the state-wide political action committee (PAC) for architects. The TAC’s one and only job is to raise money to support the Texas Society of Architects’ legislative advocacy efforts. That’s it. 

Asking architects to give money to be used for politics. What fun. 

It’s the Job that Nobody Really Wants. So, with that, this inaugural edition of our Advocacy Newsletter will begin by introducing you to a couple of colleagues who have accepted the challenge to take this role to a new place, to find a way to bring an invigorated passion, expand the influence, enhance the meaning, and add diversity to the committee while doing The Job that Nobody Really Wants. We are pleased to introduce you to AIA Dallas’ two Texas Architects Committee Executive Trustees, Norman Alston, FAIA and Ryan D. Martin, AIA. You will find short bios below. They are responsible for organizing and leading the effort to win your financial support for our state-wide legislative program. 

Desirable or not, the job of the TAC is important to our profession. It’s the only PAC supporting architects’ interests in Texas. Those interests can come under attack during any legislative session, and usually do. We’ll be recounting some of those recent battles in future editions of this newsletter, but we’ll also be trying to make you aware of upcoming battles in an effort to get us in front of the problem. Learn more about the Texas Architects Committee here.

We are excited to announce the opportunity to share the fun! While the role of Advisory Trustee is not new, it has been a number of years since it was utilized in AIA Dallas. For those interested in entering the political arena on behalf of your profession, we have a number of these positions open. Advisory Trustees share the fundraising duties with the Executive Trustees, only they don’t have a vote at the TAC meetings. As we develop our programs and efforts, we welcome anyone interested in learning more about this important, if often overlooked, aspect of the architectural profession. 

Please reach out to either Norman or Ryan for more information. 

Norman Alston, FAIA
Principal, Norman Alston Architects, Dallas 

Norman joined the TAC in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. He has been very active with advocacy efforts for AIA Dallas, having served as Director of Advocacy for the AIA Dallas Board of Directors, and currently serving as chair of the Public Policy Committee. He is a founding board member of non-profit Fair Park First and has spent much of his time working with and supporting that organization’s extensive development efforts. Professionally, his practice focuses on historic preservation, with award-winning projects across Texas. 

Ryan D. Martin, AIA
Vice President, Director of Design, Leo A. Daly, Dallas

Ryan is our newest Trustee, having only joined in April 2022. A proud graduate of UT Arlington, he served as the Alumni Chapter president and on the Advisory Council of CAPPA. He is a Fitwel Ambassador and currently serves on the new but very successful AIA Dallas Gala Committee. His professional focus is in Hospitality and Mixed Use. He has authored many articles and been featured in a variety of podcasts and magazine interviews. Recent project experience includes the iconic Hotel del Coronado, Grand Hyatt Vail, Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa and the historic Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel in Omaha.