The Texas architect helping define Houston's visual style searches for a nonprofit community partner
These days, if you're asking Houstonians to come into an office, it'd better be a nice one. Nonprofit workers and beneficiaries often get the short end of this stick, with outdated buildings and cost-cutting, so one acclaimed Texas architecture firm is offering its services to spruce things up.
One nonprofit partner in Austin or Houston will receive $20,000 worth of services to directly support its mission from Michael Hsu Office of Architecture (MHOA). That can be accrued however the partner sees fit within design and consultation services, such as site analysis, feasibility studies, master planning, and even interior design help.
Designs by MHOA are likely familiar to Houstonians, who may recognize the firm's work at Uchi, Loro, Da Gama, the Montrose Collective, and many more hard-to-miss modern buildings. Many clients have locations in both Austin and Houston, where Hsu grew up and another office is based, resulting in a growing visual connection between the two cities.
This is the second iteration of the Design for All Partnership, following the success of 2022 as an inaugural year with Austin Angels, a community-building organization that supports youth and families in foster care. Although the partnership began last year, MHOA is still working on a community center on 2.5 acres in Buda that used to support a church facility.
Renderings of the new space show an angular structure that prioritizes storage and openness from one area to the next, plus lots of colors through murals. The organization is now in a fundraising phase to bring the ideas to life.
Austin Angels appealed to the architects because of its capacity to anticipate the needs of its community and a background in hospitality design. This overlap is fitting for the goal of the partnership, which beyond providing one-time services, is meant to meaningfully connect the organization with the design industry.
The next partner will also embody values that align with MHOA's, but also must fit within a few hard criteria for eligibility: it must be a registered 501C3, be within 50 miles of the Austin or Houston metropolitan areas, and propose a project equal to or smaller than 50 acres for master planning or 20,000 square feet for architecture and interior design.
“Our firm has always done our best to balance community-focused work in our project mix,” said Michael Hsu. “Similar to Austin Angels’ project, we’re looking for a partner who is actively contributing to our communities in Austin or Houston.”
MHOA has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) and is accepting applications until May 19 at 5 pm. It will also be accepting questions until April 14, and plans to start conduct shortlist interviews between June 5-9. The new partner should be announced on June 22, and services will start shortly thereafter in July.