In Memory

Roger Rasbach - Class Of 1947

Roger Rasbach

Roger Rasbach, an innovative architectural designer whose work includes River Oaks mansions, computerized home plans, and early examples of energy conservation, died Wednesday, July 30, 2003 of a heart attack.  He was 75.

In a career spanning 50 years, Rasbach also was committed to developing technology for affordable, environmentally friendly homes.  Rasbach was among the first to advocate building homes with older but unfashionable ways of conserving energy; excluding or minimizing windows on the west side, shading with overhangs and porches, and planting trees and shrubs to reduce the effects of heat.  Among his pioneering work using climate studies produced by Texas A&M University was a solar house in San Antonio commissioned and featured in the 1950s by House Beautiful magazine.

"I found contemporary architectural design resulted in a home becoming no less than a down payment to its future upkeep," Rasbach said in an interview in Houston House & Home magazine in 2001.

His long-term work resulted in what Rasbach called "the Provident House," built with what he called computer component construction.  The house, cheaper than conventional homes, featured a thermal shell of structural insulated panels and eliminated conventional insulation.  According to Houston and San Antonio builder Corky Jackson, Rasbach designed homes for industrialist Henry J. Kaiser in Honolulu and for former Houston Mayor Louie Welch in Houston.  Rasbach also did restoration and design work for Houston philanthropist Jane Blaffer Owen.  A notable Houston home that Rasbach designed is a Spanish Mediterranean house on Del Monte in River Oaks for Steve and Sarah Pitt.  Rasbach also designed Vargo's restaurant on Fondren.

In 1971, Rasbach built a temporary "computer house" near the Astrodome with an energy-conservation system of panels and other devices for reducing energy consumption.  As the cost of heating and cooling continued to rise in the 1990s, Rasbach again campaigned for practical ways of designing homes to conserve energy.  Rasbach also was critical in the 1990s of what he believed was Houston's lack of "a sensitivity to the importance of retaining its naturalness and trees."

Roger Duane Rasbach was born May 13, 1928 in Pasadena, California, the son of Ruth Mary Luke Rasbach and Oscar Rasbach.  He is survived by his twin sons, Roger D. Rasbach Jr. and Oscar P Rasbach, both of Houston; and a sister, Charlene Hastings of The Woodlands.

Houston Chronicle, August 3, 2003