Corpus Christi Caller Times

"Transforming Where They Are"

Transforming where they are into the place they want it to be

The nationally recognized architecture of Elizabeth Chu Richter and David Richter defines the spirit of places scattered throughout the city: the Citizens Bank South Banking Center, homes on Ocean and Hewit drives, the red metal bus stop shelters on Staples Street, the Greenwood Branch Library addition, the Museum of Asian Cultures, the new Dawson Elementary School, St. Mark's Episcopal Church and the YWCA - even the "Octopus' Garden" playground at the Texas State Aquarium.

The Richters feel that no other profession would allow them to contribute so much to the quality of life of a community and it's that responsibility which they say drives their success. Through urban planning and architecture, they say, a space - and an entire city - expresses its past and shapes its future. "It is a huge fallacy for cities to think they're designed by some grandiose plan," David says. "They're designed by the garage additions, or the convenience stores. . . . I'm going to try to do my best with every single building I do, and with that, we'll have a wonderful city."

David and Elizabeth met in a University of Texas design class, married after graduation and have worked together since. The two adhere to their personal values with an uncommon conviction, one friend says. "It has to do with personal character - honesty, decency, morality," says Stern Feinberg Jr., managing partner of the Best Western-Sandy Shores Resort. "They're very ethical, honest people who have very high ideals about themselves and the way they deal with other people (and) they are very devoted to art as an important part of the beauty of life."

The firm has won 20-plus major awards from the Texas Society of Architects and the American Institute of Architects. Also, the Staples Street bus stop shelters won a 1995 Design for Transportation Award from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Richters strive for diversity - of projects, design and budgets their clients can afford. The vision doesn't have to be driven by dollars. It shouldn't be, in fact," Elizabeth says. "(Money) doesn't stop us from imagining what can be."