On June 7, 1950, at the University of Texas in Austin, John Saunders Chase became the first African American to enroll at a major university in the South. Chase later became the first licensed African American architect in Texas.   Chase was the first African American to be admitted to the Texas Society of Architects, and the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Chase co-founded the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) along with 11 other black architects at the AIA convention in Detroit in 1971. When President Jimmy Carter selected him in 1980, Chase became the first African American to serve on the United States Commission on Fine Arts. Projects designed by Chase’s firm include: the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Washington Technical Institute, Links, Inc., National Headquarters, Delta Sigma Theta National Headquarters, the Harris County Astrodome Renovation, the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. School of Humanities at Texas Southern University. Chase was later awarded a commission to design the United States Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia; a fifty million dollar complex.  Chase was elected to the AIA College of Fellows, was awarded the AIA Whitney M. Young Citation, and was the recipient of the NOMA Design for Excellence Award for four consecutive years. John S. Chase, FAIA is considered one of the most important African American architects of the 20th century but like most architects, is virtually unknown by people outside of the profession and/or outside the state of Texas. 

Chasing Perfection: The Work and Life of Architect John S. Chase is an exhibit that features architectural drawings, photographs, scrapbooks, and objects from Mr. Chase’s personal collection that offers insight into the man who built an unparalleled legacy.  The concurrent companion exhibition, Chasing Perfection: The Legacy of Architect John S. Chase, highlights the work of several architects who worked with Chase as well as those he influenced and inspired over the years.  These exhibits and their companion programs were designed to shine a light on the often unseen African American Architect, providing a platform for open conversation with the community about the history of African American architects in Texas, the important work minority architects are doing today and the importance of having architects working on projects in underserved communities. 
Chasing Perfection: 
The Work and Life of Architect 
John S. Chase 
Julie Ideson Building 
550 McKinney St. 
Houston, Texas 77002 
Chasing Perfection: 
The Legacy of Architect 
John S. Chase 
The African American Library 
at the Gregory School 
1300 Victor Street 
Houston, Texas 77019