Brantley Hightower is a licensed architect who received a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin as well as a Post-Professional Masters of Architecture degree from Princeton University. He has worked for Perkins & Will in Chicago, Max Levy Architect in Dallas and Lake | Flato Architects in San Antonio. His design work outside these offices has won numerous awards and has been exhibited in Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Washington D.C.
In 2012, Hightower established HiWorks, a design office dedicated to the proposition that an innovative, functional and beautiful built environment can improve individual lives and make the world a better place. It strives to make good design available to everyone.
Hightower has taught at the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Tech University, Trinity University and the University of Texas at Austin. He has lectured on courthouses throughout the state, and the University of Texas Press is scheduled to publish a book based on his research in 2015. He is also a regular contributor to The Rivard Report and Texas Architect magazine and has had essays published in Platform, Constructs, Pidgin and Clog architectural journals. Hightower is an active member of the Texas Society of Architects and is currently serving as its Vice President.
How architecture built Texas
The story goes that doctors started wearing white coats not just because they protected the physician’s clothing, but also because they looked like scientists’ lab coats. They started doing this at a time when it was important to communicate to the general public that their healing powers came from medical science as opposed to superstitious quackery.
Like clothing, architecture exists in the space between utility and perception. At the same time doctors were dressing like scientists, county courthouses were being built across the state of Texas that sought to make the frontier look much more civilized than it actually was. More than mere functional containers, the courthouses built to house county government in Texas expressed the idealized values and ambitions of a rapidly expanding population during times of intense economic, technological and social change.
As built artifacts, the county courthouses of Texas tell a compelling story of a particular part of the country during a specific period of time. They demonstrate how architectural tastes have changed along with society’s view of government. More importantly, they also show how good design can transform a society and make the world a better place.