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Telling stories through her architecture

Michelle Old nurtures art and architecture while elevating design and mentoring younger peers

When Michelle Giuseppetti Old was younger, art was her passion. When a high school art history teacher posed the idea that great architecture was an expressive public art form, Old could see her future occupation in a whole new light.

In addition to its inherent beauty, great architecture offers functionality and performance to its users and focuses on the immediate environment and its resources. That means using more limestone in Texas and mass timber in public college jobs or being more subtle and letting a design aesthetic make a statement about what happens under a roof.

A Houston native and 2009 University of Houston graduate, Michelle began her career as an intern at Kirksey Architecture and is now its design studio director and associate vice president. A younger sister and younger brother both are architects at Kirksey and her husband, Jonathan Old, is an architect at Mark W. Todd Architects in The Woodlands. (Another sibling has a job in a science field.)

“We learn about the client, their mission and … what’s of interest to them. Pulling that story out of the client is important,” Michelle said of design inspiration. “I could design something arbitrary and cool, but it would have no soul. When you … can pull ideas from the client, that’s where the success is.”

While Kirksey handles myriad types of projects, Michelle has settled into educational and collegiate work as her specialty, but has also designed office buildings and science-tech labs. She and her team have completed The Branch School at Hightower Middle School in the Memorial area and an expansion at Yellowstone Academy in Third Ward.

Her work can be found at San Jacinto Community College (a mass timber classroom building and the engineering and technology building), Stephen F. Austin University (East Dining Hall, still under construction), Prairie View A&M University (architecture fabrication center) and Texas A&M University (Mays Business Education Complex; still under construction.)

"If I was to be known for anything, it would be that I am an encourager. Helping someone reaching life goals or next steps. That’s what I would like to do." Michele Giuseppetti Old

  • Michelle Old and her team at Kirksey Architecture designed the Engineering and Technology building at San Jacinto College. Photo by Joe Aker
  • he Branch School at Hightower Middle School. Photo by Joe Aker