David Heymann

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David Heymann
EducationThe Cooper Union, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Known forArchitecture
Notable work
Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas, Audubon Society visitor center
Awards2002 award for Award for Outstanding Educational Contributions from the Texas Society of Architects, Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, and many others

David Heymann is an American architect, writer, and educator.[1] Audubon Magazine writer Patricia Sharpe calls him a "well known green architect".[2] In 1988 Heymann designed an environmentally friendly house for then Governor of Texas George W. Bush and Laura Bush for their Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas.[3] Heymann is a contributing writer for Places Journal.[4] In 2014 he published a book of short stories, My Beautiful City Austin,[5] which has been included on several lists of best literature about Austin, Texas.[6][7] He is currently the Harwell Hamilton Harris Regents Professor at University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture.[1]

The Bush House[edit]

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

Deedie Rose, a Dallas arts and architecture patron,[8] recommended Heymann to George W. Bush and Laura Bush to design the new house for their Prairie Chapel Ranch, which later served as their home away from the White House when Bush became President, during which time it was referred to as the Western White House.[8][9] . Heymann designed three adjacent, single-level buildings, all clad in honey-colored native limestone: a three-bedroom house, a two-suite guest house, and a garage building.[8] Heymann sited the buildings and a swimming pool "into an almost imperceptible rise amid an existing grove of live oaks and cedar elms."[9]

During the design process, Heymann would outline potential layouts on the ground so the Bushes could visualize how the house would work in each setting.[10] Heymann worked closely on the design with Laura Bush. "She has a lot of experience from seeing the carefully organized houses that her dad built, and she has a very, very good eye," he says.[8] "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."[10]

The buildings were designed using strategies to achieve environmental sustainability.[8][11] Combined, the three buildings amount to less than 4,000 ft² interior space.[8] They are positioned using basic passive solar principles, absorbing winter sunlight, while being shaded in summer. A 10-foot (3 m) wide porch encircles the main house, which in plan is "a narrow rectangle broken into an arc."[8] The design takes maximum advantage of the breeze by being long and narrow – most of the house is only one room wide.[8][9]

Heymann selected limestone quarried very close to the site. "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."[10] The buildings use geothermal energy to heat and cool, and require less energy for that purpose.[12] A 42,000 US gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from the roof. Wastewater from sinks, toilets, and showers is also funneled into the cistern after being purified in underground tanks. The water from the cistern is then used to irrigate the landscaping around the buildings.[8][9]

The encircling porch provides a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors. Most movement between rooms goes via the porch, and most of the windows of the house are full height doors that open onto it. When the doors are all open the house "becomes a veritable pavilion."[9] Heymann says, "it’s a very simple idea: Outside is cold or warm, you’re in the sun or the shade or the wind, or you’re not, but that’s something you trust. The sensation is real. And direct."[13] "It's slightly motel-ish, but we love that," Mrs. Bush says.[9] 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."[10]

In 2017, Heymann completed the construction of a painting studio adjacent to the main house. The studio gets its daylight from a north/south facing light monitor in the roof, with a lighting system designed to provide continuously balanced daylight-colored light. The studio's north storage wall rolls into pockets, allowing the studio to be opened to the outdoors.[14]


Heymann's architecture has been published in journals including Architecture,[15] Architectural Record,[8] Architectural Digest,[9] Metropolis,[16] Progressive Architecture,[17] and Texas Architect.[14][18] His design awards include a PA Award citation from Progressive Architecture magazine in 1994 for the design of Ontario Bible Church [now Oakwood Bible Church][19], one of two churches Heymann designed in collaboration with Laura Miller and Michael Underhill in Ames, Iowa.[20] In 2000, Heymann was selected by the Architectural League of New York for inclusion in its Emerging Voices series.[21] Heymann received the 13th Annual Heinz Award in the Human Condition in 2007. In 2014, he was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the professional organization for architects in America.[22]

Heymann has been a Visiting Artist / Scholar / Fellow at the American Academy in Rome,[23] the Dora Maar House through the Museum of Fine Arts Houston,[24] the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio,[1] and the Bogliasco Foundation Liguria Study Center.[25] He has been a resident artist in photography at the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, and with the Arctic Circle Program.[1][26][27]His Places Journal essay "Landscape is Our Sex" was awarded the 2012 Bradford Williams Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects.[28]

In 2003, Heymann was awarded the 17th annual Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship (FCTF).[29] Its honorarium is the largest for undergraduate teaching excellence at The University of Texas. Other teaching awards he has received include The Texas Exes Award for Teaching Excellence,[1] the University of Texas Regents Outstanding Teaching Award,[30] the 2002 Award for Outstanding Educational Contributions from the Texas Society of Architects,[31] and inclusion in Design Intelligence's 25 Most Admired Educators in 2017.[32] Heymann is a University of Texas Academy of Distinguished Teaching Professor,[33] and an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Heymann received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from The Cooper Union in 1984. He worked for the architects Tod Williams and Associates (now Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects), and I.M. Pei and Partners, before receiving his Master of Architecture Degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 1988.[16] Heymann lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Sandra Fiedorek.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e "University of Texas School of Architecture Webpage Faculty Biography". University of Texas School of Architecture. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  2. ^ Sharpe, Patricia. "Good morning, it's a beautiful day at Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary". Audubon. Archived from the original on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2006-03-29.
  3. ^ "David Heymann Biography". School of Architecture. Archived from the original on 2 January 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2007.
  4. ^ "David Heymann Columnist Biography Page". Places Journal. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  5. ^ Brad, Tyler (6 May 2015). ":Book Review: Austin, Our Austin". Texas Observer. Observer. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  6. ^ Barrett, Michael (4 September 2015). "Reading Books About American Cities: Austin". TheGuardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  7. ^ KUT Staff (6 May 2015). "Dan Is Moving to Austin. Here Are 27 Books You Suggested For Him And Other Newcomers". KUT.org. The University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Spencer, Ingrid (May 2013). "The George W. and Laura Bush Residence". Architectural Record. 201 (5): 40–41.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Owens, Mitchell (August 2014). "Laura and George W. Bush's House in Texas". Architectural Digest Magazine. Architectural Digest. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d Keen, Judy and Laurence McQuillan (2001-04-13). "'Texas White House' a refuge from stress". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2006-08-23. Retrieved 2006-03-29.
  11. ^ Bush Loves Ecology – At Home Archived 2008-06-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Mazurkiewicz, Greg (2002-08-23). "Geothermal System Fit For A President". The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News. Archived from the original on 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  13. ^ Mari, Francesca (14 December 2014). "In Texas, Architect for Bushes Also Builds With Words". Texas Monthly. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  14. ^ a b Seward, Aaron (July–August 2017). "Studio, Prairie Chapel Ranch by David Heymann". Texas Architect. 67 (4): 96.
  15. ^ "Tonnesen House". Architecture: 124–127. March 1999.
  16. ^ a b Malkovsky, Paul. "New Architecture Faces the Future". Metropolis. Archived from the original on 10 December 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  17. ^ "Ontario Bible Church". Progressive Architecture: 40–43. January 1994.
  18. ^ Sharpe, Stephen (July–August 2010). "Hideaway in Plain Sight". Texas Architect. 60 (4): 40–43. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  19. ^ "The Oakwood Bible Church in Ames, Iowa". Harvard Graduate School of Design. Archived from the original on 28 June 2006. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  20. ^ Spears, Roger (Spring 1995). "A Circle of Fellowship / Addition to the Unitarian Fellowship Church, Ames, Iowa". Iowa Architect: 22–23.
  21. ^ "Emerging Voices 1982–2004". The Architectural League of New York. Archived from the original on 27 February 2006. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  22. ^ "Meet The New Fellows: AIA Elevates 143 to College of Fellows". Building Design & Construction. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  23. ^ "Visiting Artists And Scholars: Fall – Winter 2002–2003". American Academy in Rome. Archived from the original on 14 December 2005. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  24. ^ "Past Fellows At the Dora Maar House: Archive". Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  25. ^ "Directory of Fellows, Bogliasco Foundation". Bogliasco Foundation. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  26. ^ "The Arctic Circle / Participants". The Arctic Circle. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  27. ^ Heymann, David (December 2014). "Tracks / A Walk in the Arctic". Places Journal. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  28. ^ ""The American Society of Landscape Architects / Bradford Williams Medals Recipients". American Society of Landscape Architects. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  29. ^ "Associate Dean David Heymann named the 2003–04 Friar Fellow". School of Architecture. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006. Retrieved 29 March 2006.
  30. ^ "2009 Academic Awardees / Regents Outstanding Teaching Awards". The University of Texas System. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Honor Awards". Texas Society of Architects. Texas Society of Architects. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  32. ^ "DesignIntelligence 25 Most Admired Educators for 2017-2018". DesignIntelligence Quarterly. 2017 (Q3): 77.
  33. ^ "Academy of Distinguished Teachers / Academy Fellows". University of Texas System. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  34. ^ "Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Distinguished Professor List". Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  35. ^ van Ryzin, Jeanne Claire (2002-07-11). "FLASHCARD ARTISTRY (CONCLUSIONS NOT INCLUDED)". The Austin-American Statesman. Archived from the original on 2006-05-14. Retrieved 2006-03-29.

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