David Heymann

David Heymann
David Heymann, November 2007
Nationality American
Education The Cooper Union, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Known for Architecture
Notable work(s) Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas, Audubon Society visitor center
Movement Green
Awards 2002 award for Award for Outstanding Educational Contributions from the Texas Society of Architects, Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, and many others
Patron(s) George W. Bush

David Heymann is an American architect who was commissioned by environmentally friendly house for the Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas.

He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from The Cooper Union in 1984. After receiving his B.Arch., he worked for Tod Williams and Associates, and I.M. Pei and Partners. He received his Master of Architecture Degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 1988.[1] Heymann first taught at Iowa State University, and was the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at The University of Texas at Austin. He is currently a professor for several architecture courses at the University of Texas.

Approach to architecture

The Audubon Society selected Heymann to design their new interpretive visitor center at Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary. Audubon Magazine writer Patricia Sharpe calls him a "well known green architect".[2]

Heymann says that he tries to design buildings that fit in with their surroundings and that sustainability in design is important to him. Heymann has said:

Most of my clients are building in nonurban areas, seeking to establish grounded relationships with their sites. They are not initially worried about conservation. ... More and more, I can push my clients further — to use groundwater cooling, for example — because they are cognizant that an emotional benefit also accrues to the building...My work is possible only because people are populating the countryside at alarming rates, seeking to find a world they think is lost. Architects have argued against this and other recent trends — the increasingly large house, for example — to no avail.[3]

General honors

In 2000, Heymann was selected by the Architectural League of New York for inclusion in its Emerging Voices series.[4]

He is the recipient of the 2002 award for Award for Outstanding Educational Contributions from the Texas Society of Architects, and he was selected as a visiting scholar by the American Academy in Rome for 2002 and 2003.[5][6]

He is the recipient of the 17th annual Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship (FCTF). The fellowship comes with a $12,000 cash honorarium which is the University's largest for undergraduate teaching excellence. The Fellowship is funded by earnings from the nearly $500,000 FCTF endowment. Professor Heymann is the first person from the School of Architecture to receive the award. The Friar's award is one of 8 teaching awards he has received while at the University of Texas. He has also been elected to the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Professors.[7]

Commissions and design awards

Heymann and fellow architects Michael Underhill and Laura Miller won a design citation from Progressive Architecture magazine in 1994 for their design of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of [8] The design was also the winner of a Progressive Architecture Design Award Citation.[9]

The Western White House

Bush and Putin by a limestone fireplace at the Western White House

Heymann was selected by Laura Bush to design a 4,000 ft²[10] honey-colored native limestone environmentally friendly single-level home on the Prairie Chapel Ranch, which served as their home away from the White House. A 10 foot (3 m) wide limestone porch encircles the house. The property was referred to as the Western White House and as the Texas White House.

The house was designed with environmental standards in mind. Heymann selected limestone quarried very close to the site. The pieces used are left-over from other cuttings, making a statement about resource conservation. "They cut the top and bottom of it off because nobody really wants it," Heymann says. "So we bought all this throwaway stone. It's fabulous. It's got great color and it is relatively inexpensive."[11] Both the main house and the guest house use geothermal energy for their heating and cooling and require 25% less energy usage than a conventional heating and cooling system.[12]

The passive solar house is positioned to absorb winter sunlight, warming the interior walkways and walls of the residence. A 25,000 US gallon[10] underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof urns; wastewater from sinks, toilets, and showers cascades into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is then used to irrigate the landscaping around the four-bedroom home.

"One thing we wanted was to make sure the house fit into the landscape," Laura Bush says. "I think it does, with the low house and the native limestone that looks very natural. It also takes advantage of the landscape with all the views."[11] The view played an important role in situating and designing the house, as did the breezes and the direction of the sun. During the design process, Heymann would outline potential layouts in the ground and the Bushes would stand there visualizing what the house would look like in each setting.

The final design takes maximum advantage of the breeze by being long and narrow - most of the house is only one room wide. The house is surrounded by a porch, which shades the house from direct sun in the summer and provides a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. Most traffic between rooms goes via the porch, although there are some interior doors. There are no stairs or thresholds, Laura Bush points out. "We wanted our older parents to feel comfortable here," she says. "We also want to grow old here ourselves."[11] Heymann says, "The house doesn't hold you in. Where the porch ends there is grass. There is no step-up at all."[13] President Bush has said Heymann "did a fabulous job" with the house.[14]

Personal life

Heymann lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Sandra Fiedorek, and their two children, Walter, and Helen.[15]


  1. ^ "David Heymann Biography". School of Architecture. Retrieved 10 January 2007. 
  2. ^ Sharpe, Patricia. "Good morning, it's a beautiful day at Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary.". Audubon. Retrieved 2006-03-29. 
  3. ^ Malkovsky, Paul. "New Architecture Faces the Future". Metropolis. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  4. ^ "Emerging Voices 1982-2004". The Architectural League of New York. Archived from the original on 27 February 2006. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  5. ^ "Honor Awards". Texas Society of Architects. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  6. ^ "Visiting Artists And Scholars: Fall - Winter 2002-2003". American Academy in Rome. Archived from the original on 14 December 2005. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  7. ^ "Associate Dean David Heymann named the 2003-04 Friar Fellow". School of Architecture. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  8. ^ Gallegos, Rachel (2005-08-06). "Designed with God in mind". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2006-03-29. 
  9. ^ "The Oakwood Bible Church in Ames, Iowa". Harvard Graduate School of Design. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  10. ^ a b Bush Loves Ecology - At Home
  11. ^ a b c Keen, Judy and Laurence McQuillan (2001-04-13). Texas White House' a refuge from stress"'". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-03-29. 
  12. ^ Mazurkiewicz, Greg (2002-08-23). "Geothermal System Fit For A President". The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News. Retrieved 2008-04-01. 
  13. ^ O'Keefe, Eric. "The Bush Ranch". Cowboys & Indians. Archived from the original on 19 March 2006. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  14. ^ "President Gives Tour of Crawford Ranch". The White House Website. Retrieved 29 March 2006. 
  15. ^ van Ryzin, Jeanne Claire (2002-07-11). "FLASHCARD ARTISTRY (CONCLUSIONS NOT INCLUDED)". The Austin-American Statesman. Retrieved 2006-03-29. 

External links

  • David Heymann's homepage at The University of Texas at Austin
  • "The Bush Ranch", by Eric O'Keefe, story on Prairie Chapel Ranch and the house by Heymann, Cowboys & Indians, December 2002. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  • Eyeballing the Bush Ranch, Cryptome. Includes maps and photos of the house.
  • "'Texas White House' a refuge from stress", by Laurence McQuillan and Judy Keen, USA Today, 2001-04-13. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  • "West U's Environmental Oasis", by Charles Stillman, February 2006, Cleanhouston.com, on an eco-friendly house Heymann designed in Houston, Texas. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  • "16 Ideas for the Planet", statement 16 by David Heymann, Newsweek, April 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  • "Lone Star Style", by Cathy Horyn, T Style Magazine, The New York Times, August 27, 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  • , a collection of memorable quotations from his Spring 2010 Site Design class.
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