A Winning Combination: Barbeque and Scholarships

Houston architecture firm THR3E Design establishes new endowed student scholarship

Ruben DeLaO, Jennifer Higgins ('07), Dean Patricia Oliver, Barry Leong ('00), and Frank Marquez.
Ruben DeLaO, Jennifer Higgins ('07), dean Patricia Belton Oliver, Barry Leong ('00), and Frank Marquez.
Dean Patricia Belton Oliver at the cook-off.
Dean Patricia Belton Oliver at the cook-off.

What started as a barbeque competition ended with a new student scholarship for the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design. Last October, THR3E Design hosted its first annual "Us Against Them" barbeque cook-off event, and Hines College dean Patricia Belton Oliver, FAIA, joined Texas Tech University dean Urs Peter Flueckiger and representatives from WorkTexas as judges for the event. Following the competition, THR3E Design awarded the Hines College a gift of $5,000 – the first gift supporting a $25,000 endowed student scholarship for UH architecture and design students. The firm also committed to $5,000 in current operating scholarship funds to provide scholarships to students over the next five years as the endowment is established. 

The new THR3E Design Endowed Scholarship at UH supports undergraduate and graduate students who bring an entrepreneurial spirit to design, reflecting the firm's innovative approach and value of education for all. 

Founded in 2019, THR3E Design sought to build a brand meant to stand the test of time and carry on its legacy despite its leadership succession. The company primarily focuses on healthcare, higher education, and industrial design, bringing its core values of service, leadership, involvement, and design methodology to each client. UH alumni Jennifer Higgins ('07) and Barry Leong ('00), alongside Texas Tech alumni Frank Marquez and Ruben DeLaO, serve as the firm's leadership and believe in the power of education, especially since three of the four principals were first-generation college students. 

"It was because of the education opportunities we all received that we are who we are and where we are, and we would like to be part of someone else's educational experience," shared Higgins. "At THR3E Design, we believe that giving back and investing in our community helps put a face to the business; we are not just a company or product, but humans, as well." 

Along with this endowed scholarship at the Hines College, THR3E Design established a scholarship endowment at the Texas Tech University Huckabee College of Architecture and funding support for Work Texas, a Houston-based organization providing vocational school and training. 

"At the end of the day, THR3E Design hopes to help provide opportunities for future generations and others to thrive in their architecture, design, and construction careers," said Higgins. 

THR3E Design could only raise funds for its philanthropic support due to its dedicated relationships with industry partners. The participation of Austin Commercial, Constructable, Endurance, Linbeck Group, mStrategic Partnership, O’Donnell/Snider Construction, Roger-O’Brien Construction, and Tellepsen in the annual cook-off helped assist in setting up these opportunities committed to advancing future talent.