Arts & Humanities

‘Rodneypalooza’ Celebrates Architecture Professor’s 50-Year Career

More than 400 former students and friends of professor Rodney Hill gathered at the Ice House on Main in Bryan to celebrate the renowned architect, environmental psychologist and futurist.
By Richard Nira, Texas A&M University College of Architecture April 2, 2019

A heartfelt outpouring of appreciation for legendary Texas A&M architecture professor Rodney Hill from more than 400 of his former students and friends, many of whom credit him with shaping their lives with his inspired teaching and mentorship, filled the Ice House on Main in downtown Bryan March 30, 2019.

The event was hosted by the Friends of Rodney Hill, a group that sought to honor the 50th anniversary of Hill’s start as an Aggie educator.

At a brief program during the event, rodneypalooza, Hill was honored by his former students who conveyed their sincere gratitude.

“For giving us over 50 years of exceptional academic freedom, your gift of creativity, mentoring and encouragement, and your treasured friendship, we are forever grateful,” said Scott Price ’74. “You have given us all an enduring love of learning.”

The program, hosted by Robert Riggs ’71, also featured a presentation by Max Greiner ’74 and a tribute video.

Riggs also announced that Shannon Van Zandt ’93, head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and another of Hill’s former students, won first place in a tie decorating contest. The competition was a nod to Hill’s habit of wearing a wide variety of colorful neckties. Michael Ufer ’84 earned second place with his design, and Joseph Hutchinson won third place.

Hill, who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1969, is an award-winning architect, an expert in environmental psychology and a futurist whose lessons prompt students to connect the dots and draw their own conclusions from emerging global conditions, innovations and imagined possibilities.

For many years, students from across campus have scrambled to enroll in Hill’s famous Design Process class, one of Texas A&M’s most popular courses, which is strategically designed to help students discover their own ideas and become comfortable in their own creativity. Many of his former students say they still use the relaxation and visualization exercises Hill introduces in the class to help students cultivate fresh ideas.

Throughout his career, Hill, who was named a member of the prestigious American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows in 2012, has garnered innumerable awards from state and national organizations, as well as nearly every major teaching honor awarded by Texas A&M.

Hill is also an accomplished artist who designed Texas A&M University at Qatar’s ceremonial mace, the “Obelisk of Knowledge,” a 13-foot tall, 900-pound sculpture he created at the request of the campus’ main benefactors, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Khalifa Al-Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned.

He also created a large wood sculpture detailing Texas A&M’s history that is on permanent display near the Flag Room in the Memorial Student Center, a bronze Muster sculpture in Academic Plaza, an 8-foot-tall wood and bronze obelisk in the Sterling C. Evans Library and many others.

The event is part of the College of Architecture’s yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary.

This article by Richard Nira first appeared in ArchOne.

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