College to honor eight outstanding former students at annual event

Eight former students from the Texas A&M College of Architecture who have distinguished themselves as leaders and humanitarians in their respective fields will be honored at a banquet Feb. 10, 2022 at the Hilton College Station and Conference Center.

The 2021 Outstanding Alumni were nominated by former students and selected for their outstanding achievements by a college committee.

Less than one percent of the college’s more than 16,000 former students have been recognized as Outstanding Alumni, the highest honor bestowed by the college to its graduates.

Members of the 2020 class of Outstanding Alumni will also be recognized at the event.

The 2021 Outstanding Alumni are:

Michael A. Alost ‘85

Alost, senior vice president for KDC Real Estate Development, directs projects for corporate office and mixed-use developments. His most notable projects include Frost Bank Headquarters in San Antonio, Toyota North American Headquarters in Plano, Texas, and State Farm Regional Headquarters in Richardson, Texas. He’s led more than $3.6 billion in U.S. projects.

His numerous community service positions include positions on the boards of the Dallas Regional Chamber, The Real Estate Council, Uptown Dallas Inc., and the Dallas Foundation’s Pegasus Committee, where he reviews grant requests from innovative nonprofits. He is also a member of the Texas A&M Department of Architecture Advisory Board.

Fernando J. Andrade ‘82

Andrade leads design management, programming, and master planning as president, CEO and director of design with GSR Andrade Architects, ranked as a Top 25 North Texas architecture firm for the past 15 years. His notable projects in a variety of sectors include the Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway, Dallas Fire Station #38, the North Central Medical Plaza/Carrell Clinic Surgery Center, and Balch Springs Middle School.

He advocates for minority entrepreneurs as a board member of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Andrade’s many prestigious honors include the 2017 Hispanic Leadership Award from the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League.

Tony Philip Battle ‘01

Battle oversees all South Texas operations as president of Byrne Construction Services, Texas’ largest Hispanic-owned contractor. He performs meticulous execution of complex building projects, including several at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and he is applauded for his leadership in the community.

He’s garnered numerous awards for his numerous, notable projects, including The Soto, the first mass timber mid-rise in Texas, New Braunfels’ Recreation Center, Plaza de Armas, and Lila Cockrell Theatre renovations.

Jay B. Carlton ‘81

Carlton has overseen the construction of numerous schools in South Texas as the co-founding CEO of Sterling Structures, a 25-year-old contracting firm he built from the ground up. Sterling Structures is a regular member of the Aggie 100, with five appearances since 2010. The prestigious, annual list is a compilation of the fastest growing Aggie owned or operated firms.

He and his diverse team have received multiple construction awards while surviving several economic industry and pandemic challenges. Honors include the Preservation Houston 2016 Good Brick Award for the rehabilitation and re-use of Bender High School, originally built in 1929, and a 2020 Best of the Best contractor award in Texas from Compgroup/Associated General Contractors of America.

Beth Topham Clark ’77

Clark is the retired co-founder of Clark Condon Associates, a leading Houston-based firm that provides award-winning site planning and design services for a wide range of projects across the region. She led numerous award-winning projects, including the Springwoods Community in north Houston, which earned an award from the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for creating 26 acres of prairie.

She also serves as a member of the Texas A&M Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning’s Professional Advisory Board, is a long-time supporter of the student-run Aggie Workshop, and enjoys mentoring young professionals.

Avneet Kaur ‘03

Kaur, a simulation supervisor for Walt Disney Animation Studios, has contributed to a long list of animated smash hits, including “Frozen,” “Zootopia,” “Big Hero 6,” and many more. Kaur works closely with character asset teams to lead the design, development and implementation of simulation solutions and asset workflows for many character styles and art directions.

To encourage and support diversity and inclusion in the animation community, Kaur also mentors the next generation of animators as a part of various groups such as Women in Animation, Women in Technology, Girls Who Code, Rise Up Animation, ABAI in India and in institutions where she earned degrees.

John D. Murphy ‘82

Murphy, an associate vice provost at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has successfully advocated for students to experience a global perspective of the construction industry by establishing prominent study abroad programs that focus on project-based learning. He is currently executive director of the Global Study Center at Urbino, Italy.

His exemplary career in construction management in academia and the industry has included a term as dean of the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning at UTSA. It has also included stops at Texas A&M, Colorado State University, and Auburn University, three of the top construction education institutions in the nation. After he earned a graduate degree in construction management at Texas A&M, he spent the next 9 years in general contracting.

Shannon Van Zandt ’93

Van Zandt, executive associate dean of the College of Architecture, is the recipient of the inaugural Dean’s Leadership Award, an honor for Outstanding Alumni who are current employees of the college. The first female department head in the college’s history, achieving faculty gender parity and mentoring early-career women are two of her most significant and rewarding accomplishments.

She is a nationally recognized expert in the significant impact that natural hazards have on socially vulnerable populations and is frequently quoted in prominent publications, including the Washington Post, Houston Chronicle and Texas Observer. Her testimony to Texas legislators in 2019 was instrumental in the passage of a bill that helps communities plan for housing recovery that serves those most in need.

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