Caren Cooner Easterling, one of six former students from the Texas A&M College of Architecture who have distinguished themselves as leaders and humanitarians in their respective fields, will be honored as an outstanding alumna of the college at a Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018 banquet at The George, 180 Century Court, in College Station, Texas.
Easterling is the daughter of Bennie Carroll Cooner who was born, raised, went to Jefferson High School and has been a long time resident of Jefferson. Her grandfather and grandmother are Welborn and Alma Cooner, long time residents as well. Easterling’s mother is Carol Kay Bartlett Sanders, daughter to Robert and Marie Bartlett, who grew up in Marshall, TX, attended Marshall HS and still has a home at Caddo Lake. Easterling earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree at Texas A&M in 1989 and is a director of design and construction at H-E-B, a San Antonio-based grocery store chain.
She has led teams of more than 100 in-house architects, engineers, graphic designers, interior designers, construction project leaders, schedulers and estimators to create inviting, unique, innovative and award-winning new stores, supporting infrastructure facilities, retail formats, businesses and reinvestment projects.
Easterling also seeks to help community members have a sense of ownership in H-E-B stores. In a new store in Wimberley, approximately 40 miles southwest of Austin, her team salvaged distinctive elements from an abandoned intermediate school on the site scheduled for demolition, including the school’s gym floor, bleachers and scoreboard and repurposed them as design elements in the new store.
“She has led our company’s transformation to innovative and sustainable design,” said Craig Boyan, H-E-B president. “We host visits from dozens of retailers who come to study our building formats and their architectural elements.” Easterling helped lead the design of eight stores that earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design status, a designation that recognizes a building design that excels in several sustainability categories, including exemplary energy use and air quality. One of the stores earned a 2016 Top Ten Award from the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment. Easterling also shares her knowledge and experience with design students at Texas A&M.
In a fall 2015 Architecture-For-Health studio, she and a team of H-E-B designers advised students envisioning an H-E-B store of the future and a nearby mobile health and wellness unit. To aid their design efforts, students visited two of the chain’s flagship stores in Austin and listened to presentations from company architects, engineers and nutritionists.
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