an ornery and enigmatic architect with a penchant for boxing and an infectious grin which captured the hearts of his caretakers, died on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at Garden Terrace Alzheimer's Center of Excellence in Houston, Texas. He was seventy four years old.
Tom (or "Charlie" as he was later known at Garden Terrace) was born on November 14, 1939 to Harriet Camilla Hunt Harris and John Law Harris in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He shared little about his childhood other than he had a cat named "Flash" who was a great mouser, he enjoyed time alone reading books and listening to classical music, and he often fought (and usually won) against his older brother John. He graduated in 1957 from Whitefish Bay High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and went on to graduate in 1962 with a Bachelor of Architecture with High Distinction from the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At 22, he was the youngest student at the time to graduate from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a Master of Architecture in 1963.
Tom was a Registered Architect in both States of Michigan and Texas. He was a Registered Interior Designer in the State of Texas, and held a Board Certification with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He was an urban planner for the Detroit City Planning Commission in Detroit, Michigan from 1963 to 1966, and then joined Smith, Hinchman & Grylls Associates, Inc. in Detroit, Michigan as an Associate from 1966 to 1978. He changed career paths in 1978 by joining Giffels Associtates, Inc., in Detroit Michigan, and worked there until 1981. Concerns about the Detroit economy and a desire to one day lead his own firm led him to leave Detroit for Houston, Texas in 1981.
Upon his arrival in Houston, Tom joined 3D International as a Vice-President from 1981 to 1982. He then established the architectural firm PRAXIS in Houston, Texas, where he served as Principal from 1982 to 1990. Tom met with many obstacles along the way of success, but he kept his roots in Houston and never gave up. He served as Design Director, Architecture at Brown & Root, Inc. from 1990 to 1992, Principal of PRAXIS Design Consultants from 1992 to 1994, Principal of Harris*Lunow Architects from 1994 to 2000, and Principal of TECHNIKS Architects from 2001 to 2006.
Noteworthy projects Tom designed include the Master Plan for the "Inside the Boulevard" area, Detroit, Michigan; Atlanta Airport, New 150 Gate, Gate Arrival Terminal Project, Atlanta, Georgia; Kmart Corporation International Headquarters, Troy, Michigan, which received many design awards including an AIA National Design Award; Caterpillar Tractor Company, Automated Parts Distribution Facility, Morton, Illinois; PPG Coatings and Resins Research Laboratory, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan; Defense Intelligence Analysis Center, Washington, D.C.; and Central Computer Facility, NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
Tom was a member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church, both in Houston, Texas. At St. Luke's United Methodist Church, he was a member of the Men's Executive Committee. He also enjoyed running, weightlifting, modern art and opera. During his lifetime, he owned two Hudson automobiles and loved Beefeater gin martinis on the rocks with a twist.
Tom is survived by his wife of 48 years, Laurie Lindemulder Harris, his daughter Dr. Leslie Law Harris and husband Dr. Edward Gumapac Baptista, and granddaughter Eleanor Rose Baptista , his son Charles Jason Harris, his brother John Edward Harris and wife Rousty Harris, nephew Jeffrey Langdon Harris, wife Sylvia Lopez, and grand niece Gabriella Isabel Harris, nephew Stowe John Wilder Harris and wife Maria Collell Harris, nephew Benjamin Wood Harris and wife Lori Ann Harris, and grand nephews Jason John Harris and Kyle Matthew Harris. Following internment at the church columbarium, a memorial service will be held in the chapel of First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77004 on Saturday, the first of March at eleven o'clock with the Reverend Bill Heston, officiating. Remembrances in lieu of flowers may be made to either First Presbyterian Prison Ministry or St. Luke's United Methodist Church Men's Life programs.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Feb. 23, 2014