Art Chavez — accidental movie set designer

The creativity of Art Chavez can be seen on the silver screen in Terrence Malick’s new movie “The Tree of Life.”

Or throughout the world.

Chavez helped design PageSoutherlandPage’s downtown office at 1100 Louisiana that caught Hollywood’s eye after it was registered with Houston Film Commission as a possible movie location. Unique work spaces at the architecture and engineering firm are located on a continuous ramp built inside an eight-story-high open space formerly used as a bank lobby.

Chavez didn’t meet Sean Penn, but the actor spent several hours shooting scenes for “The Tree of Life” with Chavez’s handiwork as a backdrop.

Chavez, who has known he wanted to be an architect since he was a boy, has a love of diversity. It shows in the type of projects he works on, the people he likes to collaborate with and the music he listens to.

Chavez had a hand in designing the George H.W. Bush Library at Texas A&M University, Methodist West Houston Hospital and Millennium Tower in Dakar, Senegal.

He listens to everything from Patsy Cline to Lionel Richie to Eminem.

And he loves to hear the many different accents of the diverse professionals in the office of PageSoutherlandPage.

Chavez sat down with the Houston Business Journal to talk about some of his favorite things: history, mentoring, grilling and going 150 miles per hour.

What is something few people know about you?

I might have a tendency to be a hermit. I like to have a quiet day to myself.

I was recently at Port Mansfield in South Texas. I was wade-fishing. The closest guy to me was 200 yards away out in the Gulf.

It’s peace and quiet. You don’t have to talk. The phones don’t work. It’s very therapeutic.

Do you have any unexpected perks from your job?

Seeing people grow. Seeing people come into their own. When you challenge someone and let them do it — that’s a joy. Seeing people flourish.

What was the last book you read?

It was actually an atlas. I love maps.

It’s an atlas that documents slave trade. It’s a very interesting perspective of looking at slavery trade throughout the centuries.

I visited the island of Goree in Senegal. It’s a beautiful island with a horrific past. For 300 years they collected 15 million to 18 million African slaves. They were shipped off from that island to the New World. It’s a world heritage site. It’s an amazing historical place.

What do you do for fun?

I recently was in Abu Dhabi. I got on the fastest roller coaster on the planet. It goes up to 150 miles an hour.

It’s called the Formula Rossa. It’s at Ferrari World. It’s a theme park based on Ferrari.

If you’re in the front seat they give you goggles because you can’t keep your eyes open. (It goes zero to 62 mph in two seconds.)

It’s crazy. I rode it twice. I shouldn’t have.

A sign says wait at least 15 minutes before you get on again. I think we were back on in eight. It felt like a mild concussion.

What do you wish you were better at?

Patience. I’m not an impatient guy. But I’m impatient when I see what should be done — the right thing — and it’s not getting done fast enough.

Scratch that. I’m patient enough. If I’m more patient, I’ll get complacent, and I don’t want to be complacent.

I’d rather be better at cooking. I’m actually a pretty good cook. I love grilling. I love making sauces.

I love to grill, grill, grill — all day long. I might just open “Art’s Grill.” “Art’s Impatient Grill.”

Houston Business Journal: Art Chavez — accidental movie set designer

Contributed By

Jennifer Dawson, Houston Business Journal