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Caren Cooner Easterling

At a Glance

Class Year: 1989

Award Year: 2018

Degree: Bachelor of Environmental Design

Profession: Architecture


Caren Cooner Easterling, who earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 1989, is a director of design and construction at H-E-B, a San Antonio-based grocery store chain. Easterling has led teams of more than 100 in-house architects, engineers, graphic designers, interior designers, construction project leaders, schedulers and estimators to create inviting, unique, innovative and award-winning new stores, supporting infrastructure facilities, retail formats, businesses and reinvestment projects. She also seeks to help community members have a sense of ownership in H-E-B stores. In a new store in Wimberley, approximately 40 miles southwest of Austin, her team salvaged distinctive elements from an abandoned intermediate school on the site scheduled for demolition, including the school’s gym floor, bleachers and scoreboard and repurposed them as design elements in the new store. “She has led our company’s transformation to innovative and sustainable design,” said Craig Boyan, H-E-B president. “We host visits from dozens of retailers who come to study our building formats and their architectural elements.” Easterling helped lead the design of eight stores that earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design status, a designation that recognizes a building design that excels in several sustainability categories, including exemplary energy use and air quality. One of the stores earned a 2016 Top Ten Award from the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment. Easterling also shares her knowledge and experience with design students at Texas A&M. In a fall 2015 Architecture-For-Health studio, she and a team of H-E-B designers advised students envisioning an H-E-B store of the future and a nearby mobile health and wellness unit. To aid their design efforts, students visited two of the chain’s flagship stores in Austin and listened to presentations from company architects, engineers and nutritionists.