Melba Whatley, president and founder of the Waller Creek Conservancy of Austin, has been named the Texas Society of Architects’ 2017 Cornerstone Award recipient. This award recognizes outstanding contributions from leaders in our community that enhance the quality of life in Texas by elevating architecture and the arts, promoting the value of community, and preserving the natural environment.
Whatley’s work in the Austin community exemplifies the goals of placemaking the Society promotes. As president of the Waller Creek Conservancy, she has undertaken the largest, most ambitious urban creek transformation in the nation: the removal of 28 acres from the 100-year flood plain in downtown Austin, which will allow for the creation of more than 37 acres of newly designed and connected urban parks and public open space. In her time as St. Edward’s Facilities Committee chair, Whatley led a transformation of the campus through the construction or complete renovation of 15 buildings by notable local, national, and international architects, including Mell Lawrence Architects, Specht Harpman, Andersson-Wise, Moore Ruble Yudell, and 2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena. Whatley was also instrumental in the creation of Arthouse at the Jones Center, now The Contemporary Austin.
TxA named Whatley an honorary member in 2013. In a letter of support for her nomination, John Ruble, FAIA, commented: “Melba brings a world-class sensibility to all she does for Saint Edward’s, for Austin, and for the cause of progressive, sustainable architecture and planning. As architects, we could have no better friend and ally.” Whatley’s contributions continue to make Austin a better place to live and work.
The Cornerstone Award will be presented at TxA’s 78th Annual Convention in Austin.