In addition to his architectural contributions, he was the first head of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station and led the formation of the first Alumni Association, the forerunner of The Association of Former Students. In 2004, Giesecke was posthumously honored as an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Architecture. He was, without question, the first Aggie architect.
Following in Giesecke’s Footsteps
Giesecke’s son-in-law, Preston Geren Sr., would carry on his father-in-law’s legacy. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M in architectural engineering in 1912 and served as supervising architect for buildings on the A&M campus for two years, he established his own Fort Worth-based architectural firm, Preston M. Geren Architects & Engineers, in 1934. The Giesecke-Geren family quickly became known as the “First Family” of Texas A&M architecture, a nickname that Preston Geren Sr.’s son would solidify further.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Preston Geren Jr. came to Texas A&M in 1941 but left in 1943 to serve in World War II. For his service in the European theater, he was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.
Geren completed his education at Georgia Tech in 1947, earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture before returning to Texas. He later joined his father’s company, growing it into one of the largest and most successful firms in Texas. Today, the firm has completed projects at many major Texas universities including Texas Christian University, campuses within the University of Texas System, the University of Texas Medical School, Southwestern Baptist Seminary and Texas A&M. He was especially proud of his design of the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center, headquarters of The Association of Former Students.
While the Geren architectural legacy reaches across Texas, their commitment to Texas A&M is exemplified by Preston Geren Jr.’s gifts benefiting the university, students and faculty.
During his lifetime, Geren Jr. made many gifts through the Texas A&M Foundation to support the university, including a President’s Endowed Scholarship and a Sul Ross Scholarship. He also created the Preston M. Geren Excellence Fund and the Dr. F.E. Giesecke 1886 Lecture Fund to cover the cost of bringing renowned speakers, showcases and events to Texas A&M architecture students. These lectures give students and faculty the opportunity to hear groundbreaking ideas by leaders in all disciplines of architecture, including both built and virtual environments. Many of these activities take place in the Preston M. Geren Auditorium in the Langford Architecture Center on campus, named in honor of his father.
To create an even greater impact, Geren Jr. added a planned gift of life insurance to his already established annual gift payments, creating a blended gift to support the university.
Blended gifts—which combine current and after-lifetime gifts to the Foundation—increase the impact of an individual’s giving, provide greater tax savings, and preserve wealth for an individual and their family. A blended gift option allows individuals to increase their giving by either adding a planned gift to their annual contributions, or by making an outright gift to accompany a designation already made in their estate plans.
“Preston and his family embodied the concept of leading by example,” said Dr. Jorge Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture. “They left a physical legacy in the iconic buildings they helped create on campus, and through Preston Jr.’s endowed scholarships and the one-of-a-kind experiences he created for students at Texas A&M, the family left a lasting impact on the College of Architecture.”
To support the College of Architecture or learn more about blended gifts to support Texas A&M, contact Angela Throne ’03 in the Office of Gift Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 392-3310.