From Studio8’s inception, Milton Hime set the firm on a course focused on community engagement and service. Milton began to participate with many non-profit organizations in a more rigorous commitment of his resources after witnessing the financial and time commitments many of his clients were making. This inspired him to contribute to basic needs organizations, child development, faith communities, and public spaces that needed support including the Central Texas Food Bank, People’s Community Clinic, Manos de Cristo and many more. Milton’s community-oriented ethos has informed the firm’s culture and has inspired Studio8 staff members to be more involved with local community events, including the Austin Barkitecture competition and the American Heart Association’s Heart & Stroke Walk, where Studio8 employees helped raise over $200,000. Studio8 Architects believes that community volunteering is an important measure of the civic health of our community and provides up to eight hours of paid time off annually for each employee to participate in volunteer activities.
Studio8 Architects is dedicated to the welfare of the architectural, interior design and sustainable design community and encourage staff participation and engagement by funding their annual membership dues for AIA, IIDA, and USGBC. In addition, Studio8 offers an annual stipend for each employee to use towards a continuing education program of their choice which includes licensing exams and attending various seminars, conferences, and study courses. Several of our employees and principals have been involved in various facets of the AIA Austin Chapter. Milton Hime serves as a Member at Large for the AIA Board of Directors and is on the AIA Austin Facilities Task Force. Paul Detke, Principal, served as a chair for the AIA Urban Design Government Affair committee where he helped make amendments to Sub-Chapter E. We have had former staff involved in the AIA Leadership Collective program and our sustainability specialists actively attend COTE chapter meetings and were part of the original team to help re-instate the local chapter.
We are also a recent signatory of the AIA 2030 Commitment program and believe it’s our responsibility to take measurable steps towards a greener and more regenerative built environment. Principal and Director of Sustainable Design, Megan Slattery was recently invited to serve as an advisory board member for the City of Austin Climate Plan Building Committee, a coalition of Austin-area institutions working on climate awareness and action providing comments on the recommendations in the 2020 revisions of the Austin Community Climate Plan. The firm is committed to meeting the WELL Building Standard on projects where possible. Three members of the firm are WELL Accredited Professionals, and 13 members are LEED Accredited Professionals and LEED Green Associated.
Studio8 is devoted to raising awareness of our profession and have participated in several education-oriented activities including the AIA Architecture in Schools program where we led classes at Pease Elementary School for two years to teach students about architecture in the built environment and helped students explore and design their own elementary schools. Additionally, Studio8 participated in the Andy Roddick Foundation Summer Learning Box City program and Austin’s CREW Careers event held at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders where we taught 9th grade girls about the different career opportunities in the development, design, and construction industry.
We also recognize the disparity of underrepresented groups in our practice and Studio8 employees have created a volunteer-based, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion group dedicated to understanding, supporting, and encouraging the representation of minorities and underrepresented populations as it relates to our practice and community. Vital to this effort, is their primary focus of educational outreach to school-age children with the intent to expose the younger members of our community to the potential of design to do good. They strive to create a culture of tolerance, understanding and curiosity within their culture as well as foster engagement with local communities through volunteering with other like-minded groups proliferating the ideals of social justice. In addition, Studio8 recently became a Platinum level sponsor for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Central Texas Chapter. Several of Studio8’s employees recently participated in the 2021 NOMA – Houston Diversity Career Fair, where they mock-interviewed and provided feedback to architecture and interior design students and graduate’s portfolios and resumes from University of Houston, Rice University, Prairie View A&M University and Texas A&M University.
Further supporting this, Studio8 is also the first Texas company to receive the JUST label from the International Living Future Institute and has been a JUST-certified organization since 2016. The JUST program optimizes policies that improve social equity and enhance employee engagement, grading companies on a wide range of practices such as diversity, local benefit to community investments, human resources and compensation policies. Studio8 received the JUST 2.0 label in September 2020, earning perfect scores in pay-scale equity, health care provision, inclusion, engagement, and both gender and ethnic diversity.