Taft in Tuscany, by Earl Staley, 1988 (painting: acrylic on canvas)
The work of Taft Architects is the result of a collective and collaborative effort by its partners. Founded in Houston in 1972 by John J. Casbarian, Danny M. Samuels and Robert H. Timme the three partners produced every project together until 1995 when Robert H. Timme left Houston to accept the deanship at the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He was on sabbatical leave from the firm until his untimely death in 2005.
Taft Architects has been recognized internationally with multiple awards and publications. To date, the firm has received over 66 major awards, including 3 consecutive Honor Awards from the American Institute of Architects and a Progressive Architecture design award in 1980. In 1991, the partners were elected to the College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects. In 1999 Taft Architects received the Firm of the Year Award from the Houston AIA.
In 1980 the partners were selected to represent the United States at the First International Exhibition of Architecture at the Venice Biennale. Together, they were awarded the 1985-1986 Advanced Fellowship in Architecture, at the American Academy in Rome.
The work has been published extensively throughout the world and recognized in exhibits in Europe, Japan and the United States. Important citations for projects have been received by publications as diverse as Time, Newsweek, Esquire and The New York Times.
The partners have lectured on their work, and served as visiting critics, at major schools of architecture in the US, Mexico and Europe, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, University of Cambridge and the Architectural Association in London. The partners have also served on juries for Awards Programs of numerous city, state and regional chapters of the AIA, as well as the 1984 and 1991 national AIA programs.
In addition to holding appointments as distinguished visiting professor at Yale University, University of Illinois, University of Pennsylvania and Clemson University, the partners were collectively named recipient of the 1991 Houston AIA Educator Award. In 2019 the partners were recipients of the AIA Houston Lifteime Achievement Award, the institution’s highest honor.
Projects undertaken have been diverse in scale, type, and location and range from adaptive re-use projects to schools, from houses to country clubs, multi-use retail/office centers to luxury resort hotels, from city halls to child-learning centers, and from low-cost housing complexes to wineries. Projects are located throughout the United States, the Caribbean and in numerous countries in Europe.
John J. Casbarian is dean emeritus, Harry K. and Albert K. Smith Professor and director of External Programs, and Danny Samuels is Professor in Practice and director of the Rice Building Workshop, at the School of Architecture, Rice University in Houston.