Donovan R Davis, AIA | President, Danze & Davis Architects
When a massive wildfire ravaged Bastrop County in Central Texas last year, more than 1,300 families lost their homes. But for one family, the rebuilding process was expedited, thanks to the hit TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and the design skills of an ACU alum.
Former Wildcat Donovan Davis, now president of Austin-based Danze & Davis, was asked to design a home for the Zdroj family in late October of 2011. By November, the design was complete, and in December the family was living in their new house, just in time for the holidays.
Davis attended ACU from 1977-79, before transferring to Texas Tech University to complete his degree in architecture. The Wildcat tradition runs deep in the Davis family; all of Davis’ siblings attended ACU and two of his children are currently enrolled: Haleigh is a senior graphic design major, and Tyler is a freshman information technology major.
Davis, an award-winning architect, designed the home pro-bono after being asked to develop a custom plan by Bastrop-based contractor EFC Custom Homes.
A chance to give back
"We knew a little of the devastation in Bastrop, and we were already offering fire victims a discount for architecture services," Davis said. "As a part of the community, we wanted to help any way we could. We were absolutely all-in [to the 'Extreme Makeover' project.]"
Davis was thrilled to be a part of the popular ABC-TV program. An army of 3,000 volunteers helped construct the Zdroj home in a mere 106 hours, he said.
Homeowner Mizzy Zdroj is a volunteer for the Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department. She was helping battle the wildfire when she lost not only her family home but also her farm and art studio.
"I saw the site before, and their house had burned completely to the ground. There was just a small pile of rubble,” Davis said. “It was total devastation in many areas where their house was; it looked like it had been bombed. In fact, in some places they were afraid the ground was so scorched that new plant life might take awhile to come back.”
For Davis, the project with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was a chance to give back through the career he has always loved.
"I’ve always been interested in architecture. I’ve wanted to do it since I was 6 years old,” Davis said. “I knew what I wanted to do and followed it my whole life.”
Memories of ACU
Davis looks back on his time at ACU fondly. He believes the courses he took in drawing and design helped prepare him for a career in those same areas, and along the way he made lifelong friends.
"I loved ACU. I would have stayed if they had the degree plan I wanted. I took every class I possibly could there,” he said. “I have lifetime friends I made while I was there. It was a fabulous experience.”
The Rebuild Bastrop show was televised as part of a special "Extreme Makeover" holiday series. In addition to revealing the Zdroj family's new home, the special featured appearances by BMX biker Matt Hoffman, Chef Art Smith and some special guests from "Star Wars." If you missed the show, you can watch the full episode here: Part 1 / Part 2.
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