Lead Designer, Smither Park

Dan Phillips was the visionary artist and builder mastermind behind the unique design of Smither Park. Throughout his life, he worked as an intelligence officer in the Army, a college dance professor at Sam Houston State University, an art and antique restorator and dealer, and a syndicated cryptogram puzzle maker. In 1997, Dan started his own construction company, Phoenix Commotion, with which he began his latest career of building low-income houses out of recycled materials as a self-taught carpenter, electrician, and plumber.

Over 25 years, Dan constructed nearly 20 homes in Huntsville, Texas for low-income individuals whose labor and involvement he requires in the building process. Dan made each home using 80% of his resources from salvaged materials such as mismatched bricks, license plates as roof tiles, calf bones as kitchen tiles, corks to make bathroom floors, and frame corners to decorate the ceiling. Dan consulted with local professionals in the building industry to ensure that his designs and layouts are up to code while his wife Marsha would overlook his plans for aesthetics. 

Dan’s innovative and inspirational work is known and respected worldwide. Prior to his death in 2021, he was a frequent speaker at conferences and collegiate schools of architecture around Texas, featured in publications worldwide, and awarded many recognitions including the 2003 award for most innovative housing from the Institute for Social Invention in London, England. 

When planning the construction of Smither Park, it was not only Dan’s vast and inspirational visionary arts experience that landed him the job. Dan was a long time friend of Stephanie Smither and her husband John, whom the park commemorates.

CLICK HERE for an article in Texas Highways magazine chronicling the life and work of Dan Phillips.

For more information about Dan Phillips and Phoenix Commotion visit www.phoenixcommotion.com.