Noon Talk: Architecture: It is what it is, but it does not have to be

September 2, 2020
12:00 p.m.

Zoom webinar

Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lecture Series: Race, Social Justice, and Allyship

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Anzilla Gilmore, assistant director for project management and engineering, Rice University, presents the Noon Talk “Architecture: It is what it is, but it does not have to be” at 12:00 p.m. via Zoom as part of the Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lecture Series. She will be joined by guest speakers Nicola Springer, executive vice president and director of pK-12 projects, Kirksey Architecture, Florence Tang, project manager, Design and Engineering, Houston Zoo, and Laura Vargas, project director, EYP Architecture & Engineering.

The panel will discuss the racial reckoning architecture must have to acknowledge its internal struggle with the culture of discrimination it perpetuates. They will review personal experiences and strategies that can be used to advance the profession.

Anzilla Gilmore's passion for architecture manifests itself through service. When she graduated from Prairie View A&M University in the late 90’s, she entered a profession where very few people looked like her.  She felt the lack of representation acutely and decided to take action to ensure that no black female that came after her would want for lack of representation.  Gilmore has dedicated herself to professional mentorship, community outreach and professional service through leadership in professional organizations for over 15 years.  She is a founder and the current treasurer of the Houston chapter of NOMA, sits on the National NOMA finance committee and is the founder and current advisor to the Architects Foundation Diversity Advancement Scholars Mentorship Program.  Gilmore was the 2019 chair of the AIA’s National Ethics Council and was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in February 2019.  In her community, Gilmore serves as the Vice President of the board of Municipal Utility District 23 in Fort Bend County and is a Lifetime member of the PVAMU National Alumni Association. 

Gilmore received a Bachelor of Architecture from the School of Architecture at Prairie View A&M University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington.   She became only the fifth female registered architect in the state of Texas and the first in the city of Houston in 2004.  She worked in traditional architectural practice in Waco and Houston before transitioning to project management.  Gilmore has worked as an owner’s representative in Higher Education for 16 years; first at the University of Houston and currently at Rice University where she is the Assistant Director for Project Management and Engineering.    

Gilmore is married and has three children.

Nicola Springer, AIA, LEED AP, is an Executive Vice President and the Director of pK-12 Projects at Kirksey Architecture. With over 21 years of educational design experience, Springer believes that architecture should be a learning tool that inspires creativity, engages users, and promotes a healthy and happy life. Springer was formerly a Board member of the Rice Design Alliance and during her tenure was the Editorial Chair and an active contributor to the Cite Editorial Committee co-authoring of several articles for the magazine. A most recent article “Third Ward Quilt” was co-authored and illustrated with fellow Rice alum Ernesto Alvaro and Jamar Simien.

Florence Tang, Associate AIA, NOMA, LEED Green Associate, project manager, Design and Engineering, Houston Zoo, is an architectural designer, project manager, journalist and design activist trained in architecture and mass media studies. She has orchestrated and was a core part of architecture, design-build construction and renovation projects that have garnered local and international press such as: Metropolis, Texas Architect, Houston Chronicle, Houston Business Journal, Modern Luxury, Paper City, Texas Monthly, Popular Mechanics, 6sqft, ArchDaily, Plataforma Arquitectura, Arch Daily Brasil, 5osA Korea, Zhulong China, The Architect's Newspaper and The New York TimesShe is a community leader having served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Rice Design Alliance, Youth Leadership Council and Sunflower Mission, a grassroots nonprofit NGO, directing the communications and media campaign, helped raise more than $2 million dollars, built more than 114 classrooms, and awarded more than 8,000 scholarships to impoverished students. She is a Founding Member of Women in Architecture Houston, JE:DI Houston and RSA Alums for Social Justice.

Laura Vargas is an Associate Principal and Project Director at EYP Architecture & Engineering in Houston, Texas. Over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to work on many complex and high-profile projects with companies and institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Texas A&M University, University of Houston, University of Southern California, Dow Inc., and Shell Global. She is an active member of the University of Houston College of Architecture & Design Alumni Board and represents the Alumni voice on the UH CoAD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. She received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Houston in 2008 and is a practicing, registered architect in the State of Texas. 

Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lectures are part of an initiative to acknowledge, understand, and act on systemic racism in the built environment. Invited designers, scholars, and activists will speak on the relationship between race, architecture, and, by extension, related questions of social equity, environmental justice, and gender parity. The aim of the lecture series is to foreground these issues in the school’s curriculum while more broadly fostering solidarity and action in architecture.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Please be sure to register online for each lecture to receive the link to join. For more information on all lectures and to register to attend, visit and
This lecture series is made possible through the generous support of the Betty R. and George F. Pierce Jr., FAIA, Fund and the William B. Coleman, Jr. Colloquium Fund for Architecture.
Rice Design Alliance’s Civic Forum is made possible through the generous support of the Humanities Research Center with additional support from the Texas Commission on the Arts. For RDA’s Houston Design Research Grant lunchtime lectures by awardees De Peter Yi (Faculty winner); Anna Fritz, Shree Kale, and Edward Liew (Student winners); and Sebastián López and Lene Sollie (Honorable Mention), please visit The Houston Design Research Grant lunchtime lectures are made possible through the generous support of The Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation.