Lisa Garza Armstrongchupacabra house
Lisa Garza Armstrong and her chupacabra house

Commencement Close-Up: Lisa Garza Armstrong designs new chapter of life

By Lynn Gosnell
Special Projects Writer

(May 21, 2009)--Lisa Garza Armstrong '09 may have walked the stage with her fellow College of Architecture graduates in May commencement ceremonies, but she still has an assignment to fulfill. The interior design major is part of a team of students who have entered an upcoming competition sponsored by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) San Antonio chapter.

The theme of this year's competition is animal habitats. Armstrong and her fellow team members -- UTSA students Aaron Pratt, Alyssa Amerman '09 and Daniel LaDuc '09 -- put a decidedly South Texas twist on their entry. Their habitat was created to house the mythical creature the chupacabra. (All the entries were judged and auctioned off May 16 to benefit interior design scholarships and the city's Animal Care Services.)

"We were trying to think of something original," said Armstrong, a San Antonio native who graduated from Holmes High School in 1991.

The 36-year-old married mother of two young children began pursuing a bachelor of science in interior design degree four years ago. Along the way, she has enthusiastically embraced the intellectual and imaginative content of her courses.

"I loved the architectural history and the history of furnishings and design classes," Armstrong said. While at UTSA, she also served as program director of the student IIDA chapter. And in her final semester, Armstrong was part of an Interior Design Topics Studio taught by Susan Lanford, which took the LEED commercial interiors-track certification exam. Armstrong is now LEED-certified, a testament to her commitment to sustainability in design.

In addition to family and academic responsibilities, Armstrong works as a professional photographer. She has managed her own business, which specializes in weddings and portraits of children, for about four years. As a result of her UTSA classes, Armstrong recently added an architectural portfolio to her Web site.

"Photography, architecture and design share a lot of the same fundamental principles," she said.

When asked if she will continue her work in photography or interior design, the energetic graduate replied, "There are so many things I want to do!"

"Knowing the impact that the built environment has on our global health, I'd like to focus on working with a group that specializes in environmentally responsible projects with a twist," said Armstrong.

But first things first -- anyone want to buy a home for a chupacabra?

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