HOUSTON, TEXAS – Studio RED Founding Partner, Pete Ed Garrett, was elevated to the prestigious College of Fellows in 2019, only 3% of architects have this distinction. The College of Fellows, founded in 1952, is composed of members of the Institute who are elected to Fellowship by a jury of their peers. Fellowship is one of the highest honors the AIA can bestow upon a member.
Pete Ed Garrett refined the art of designing engaging assembly spaces that foster a strong speaker/audience relationship. Through research, innovative technical solutions, and mentoring he has advanced the profession and assembly space design. His handiwork can be found on numerous landmark assembly projects throughout the Houston area and beyond, including The Wortham Center, The Alley Theatre, Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston, Smart Financial Centre, Main Street Theater, Lakewood Church, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and Moody Gardens.
In his 40 years as an architect, Pete Ed has designed over 50 performing arts and assembly spaces, partnered with 29 world-class architecture firms, mentored over 200 students, won over 30 design awards, volunteered with 10 non-profit organizations and created one award-winning company, honored with the local AIA chapter’s Firm of the Year Award and the AIA National Diversity Award. But, his story isn’t founded in just in the numbers. His story can be found in thoughtful, researched-based solutions that have refined theater and assembly space design over the years, in cultivating unique ways to foster speaker/audience engagement and in an encouraging conversation with an aspiring architect.
Pete Ed notes that “it’s a huge honor to be elevated to the College of Fellows. I’m passionate about designing engaging assembly spaces, and have enjoyed helping shape Houston’t theater scene over the years. Seeing audience members interact with performers, and fostering that unique connection drives my design decisions.”
The 1980s were a pivotal time for theater design. Companies began moving away from purely realistic drama and began experimenting with more avant-garde productions that incorporated abstract visuals, special effects and unique choreography. Pete Ed’s career as an assembly space design expert began during this evolution, and simultaneously he began researching how to design effective, engaging assembly spaces within this new, more interactive style. He quickly became a national go-to expert for assembly spaces, as organizations and design firms alike began seeking his expertise to learn how to design spaces that supported this new type of experience.
As assembly space requirements and technology advanced, so has Pete Ed’s technical knowledge. In 1987 Pete Ed designed the first IMAX 3D Theater in America, located in Galveston at the iconic Moody Gardens. No project is too small, or too large for Pete Ed to impact. His fingerprints are on both the award-winning, thoughtful Alley Theater renovation in Houston’s Theater District and the large-scale 16,000-seat Lakewood Church, a conversion of a basketball arena into worship space, America’s largest church at the time. To further evolve the theater experience, Pete Ed designed the first 3D Theater; Terminator 2:3D at Universal Studios Theme Park in 1992. This facility was first to combine the diametrically opposed sight lines of live actors on stage with full peripheral 3D film. The 4th dimension is the integration of the audience with moving seats, water, fog and lighting. A truly effective assembly space encourages a strong speaker/audience relationship and Pete Ed has devoted his career to researching and designing such venues.