Profile: Gregory Ibañez, FAIA
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Profile: Gregory Ibañez, FAIA
Gregory Ibañez, FAIA is the 2015 President of AIA Fort Worth (AIAFW). After practicing in Dallas for nearly two decades, he opened his current Fort Worth firm, Ibañez Architecture, in 1997. Greg has been actively engaged in civic affairs through service on the Fort Worth Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission and the Fort Worth Public Art Commission, and as a board member of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The recipient of 22 design awards, Greg was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2012.
How did you decide to become an architect and where did you study?
My uncles were architects in Guadalajara, Mexico. As a child, I remember visiting their office and being enthralled by the atmosphere. I attended the University of Cincinnati for two years in a pre-architecture program and completed my studies at IIT in Chicago.
Tell us about some of your past projects that you found most interesting or rewarding.
The lake house that I designed for a friend’s family was meaningful both in an architectural sense and also personally. Two commercial projects that stand out are the Valeo facility at Alliance Airport and AUI Contractors office building [both in Fort Worth]. Valeo’s views on workplace design are progressive and in marked contrast to the typical developer approach. AUI wanted a building that demonstrated craftsmanship. The cast-in-place concrete walls were created using an innovative concrete technology and they are simply magnificent.
Offices of AUI Contractors in Fort Worth
Tell us about your current firm, focus, and projects.
My firm—Ibañez Architecture—is a small design studio. On residential and less complex projects we do everything, which is very important to me. I enjoy construction drawings and especially going on site. On larger or more complex projects we associate with larger firms, with them as architect of record. I have always been a generalist and our workload reflects that approach. About half of our projects are residential; the rest is a mix of commercial and hospitality.
What sparks your creativity?
Reading, film, theatre, museums, but especially travel. Travel forces me to look deeply at different urban environments or landscapes, and upon my return I always feel as though I see home in a new way.
Watercolor created in Marfa, Texas
The architect's sketch of a possible design for a Nashville restaurant
How do the architectural communities in Fort Worth and Dallas collaborate? How could that collaboration be improved?
Having one foot in each—I’ve spent 17 years in each city—I don’t feel the rivalry that may have previously existed. And through Texas Society of Architects, all of the architects in the state work together, our chapters included. The Dallas Architecture Forum provides sustenance for us all, although frequent travel to Dallas to attend can be challenging. I believe Don Gatzke AIA, former dean of the UT-Arlington School of Architecture, made great strides in making the school the common forum for North Texas architectural and planning discussions. The composition and size of our chapters are very different. Dallas has many large national or international firms, while Fort Worth’s largest firms are at best mid-sized. We are predominately small practices, so we are doing our best to align AIAFW with our architectural community.
What are some of the key challenges facing Fort Worth in the future? What are key challenges for the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area?
Fort Worth has many of the same challenges that Dallas and every city in the area has grappled with for decades: mobility, a lack of regional planning, and managing explosive growth. I am often surprised at the lack of knowledge that some of our city’s leaders have for the planning lessons learned, good and bad, from Dallas. Fort Worth has a great many virtues, including a compact urban core, vibrant in-town neighborhoods, and some wonderful historic buildings. Leveraging the inherent authenticity (i.e. Cowtown) while creating a more diverse city is the challenging task.
You recently chaired the Fort Worth Public Art Commission. What role should public art play in urban life and how can North Texas cities improve in this respect?
I think public art should be a part of every government building project. The General Services Administration’s Excellence in Architecture program has produced some incredible public art along with the outstanding architecture.
You are very involved with DoCoMoMo North Texas. Please overview its mission. What are some of its goals?
DoCoMoMo stands for the documentation and conservation of the Modern Movement, which is the mission. Bob Meckfessel, FAIA spearheaded the formation of our chapter and since then most Texas cities have founded chapters as well. Locally, we’re focused on awareness of our significant Modern heritage and we provide advocacy for its value.
What are your tastes in music and movies?
I have very eclectic musical tastes, but if I had to pick, I would list jazz as my favorite. As for film, I’ll watch anything by Stanley Kubrick, Hitchcock, Woody Allen, or Terrence Malick.
What advice would you give a young person considering a career in architecture?
I believe that it can be an incredibly rewarding profession, but ultimately you have to have the passion for it—or for anything you do for that matter). One must be an optimist … and having a tremendous capacity for patience really helps. In even my most difficult moments, I’ve never dreaded walking into the office.
Interviewed by Nate Eudaly, executive director of the Dallas Architecture Forum.