Son of Texas’ First Black Architect Donates $1 Million to University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture

Architect John S. Chase with rendering of one of his buildings on the wall of his offices at 1201 Southmore in 1976. Danny Connolly, HP staff / Houston Chronicle

Houston businessman and law professor Tony Chase and his wife, Dina Alsowayel, have committed $1 million to the University of Texas School of Architecture to honor Chase’s father, the school’s first Black graduate and the state’s first licensed Black architect.

The donation will create two permanent endowments to improve the representation of Blacks in architecture schools and among the ranks of working architects.

“My mom passed away almost exactly a year ago, so this, really, is meant to honor both of their lives and legacies. My hope is that it provides an opportunity for lots of deserving kids,” Tony Chase said. “They were a unit. They really were. It would be impossible for me to honor him without honoring her.”

The John S. Chase Family Endowed Graduate Fellowship will be used to recruit graduates from historically Black colleges and universities and increase the number of Black architects. Then, the John S. Chase Family Endowed Professorship in Architecture, will help recruit and keep faculty members and support their research.

“Throughout his life and as reflected in his built works, John Chase was a connector and a community-builder,” said Michelle Addington, dean of the School of Architecture. “Not only did Chase design spaces that brought people together, but he used his pioneering position to create opportunities for others.”

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SOURCE: Houston Chronicle, Diane Cowen