Dean's Letter: Fall 2009

Dean's Letter, Fall 2009
College of Architecture
Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design

ROLL CALL

Graduate students: 273
Undergraduate students: 210
TOTAL: 501

New graduate students: 121
New undergraduate students: 68
TOTAL: 189

MUD students: 28
Students abroad: 50

Tenured and tenure track faculty: 18
Visiting faculty: 10
Affiliate faculty: 46
TOTAL: 74

Faculty emeritus: 7
Staff: 6

Studio sections: 37
Courses: 43
TOTAL: 80

We are pleased to welcome Christof Jantzen as the new I-CARES (International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability) Professor of Architecture. Christof joins us from LA where he is principle with Behnisch Architects. Visiting faculty include Manuel Bailo and Rosa Rull of Barcelona, Paul Lukez with Paul Lukez Architecure of Boston, Ben Fehrmann with Twelve Metre of Kansas City, Adam Yarinsky with ARO of new York City, and Marcelo Spina with PATTERN of LA. Christine Yogiaman, and Ken Tracey both graduates of Columbia University will join us as visiting assistant professors. Faculty teaching undergraduate students in Buenos Aires are Tristan Dieguez, studio, Clara Albertengo, Spanish, Gustavo Cardon, seminar, Daniel Kozak, seminar, and Fernando Williams, history. New faculty teaching in the Seoul Korea program are Lee, Sang Jun, technology, Professor Department of Architecture Yonsei University, Kim, Jun Sung PhD., studio, Director Graduate School of Architecture Konkuk University, Pai, Hyungmin PhD., history, Director, Department of Architecture City University of Seoul, Roh, Sak-Joon, urban issues, President Space Plus. Additional new faculty include John Guenther, formerly of Mackey Mitchell Architects, Janet Baum formerly of HERA, Hannah Roth, Jessica Ginther, and Troy Fosler, and landscape architect Laurel Harrington all of St. Louis. Dean Emeritus Constantine E. Michaelides, FAIA joins us to co-teach a new course with Professor Eric Mumford entitled Collective Form and the Vernacular: The Aegean Crucible and Modern Urban Design.

We are pleased to announce that Eric Mumford and Stephen Leet have been promoted to full professor and Sung Ho Kim, and Zeuler Lima have been promoted to associate professor with tenure.

We are sorry to say that Jen Maigret has taken a position with the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Michigan. John Hoal, Chair of the Urban Design program will be on sabbatical for the year. We recognize the log service of Professor Carl Safe who retired this past spring, however Carl will be joining us this fall to lead a design-build studio with Professor Jodi Polzin in Pagedale.

ECONOMIES

The root word for both economy and ecology is the Greek word oikos for house household or family. Botanist Paul Sears (1891) described ecology as a “subversive science” following 19th century scholar and economist Robert Malthus’ warnings that the degradation of the environment was the inevitable outcome of a free market society where the need to increase profit results in growth = resource exploitation = resource exhaustion. Influential on the thinking of Charles Darwin, Malthus studied population growth providing ideas central to the emerging concept of natural selection. Frederick Soddy (1877), a Nobel laureate in chemistry disenchanted by the mass deaths of World War I gave up chemistry to pursue political economy, “the world into which scientific progress introduces its gifts.” Soddy, unsatisfied with the thinking of the day which likened the economy to a machine able to generate perpetual wealth, drew an analogy between economics and physics and in particular the second law of thermodynamics. Annie Dillard illuminates: “According to the second law of thermodynamics, things fall apart. Structures disintegrate. Buckminster Fuller hinted at the reason we are here: By creating things, by thinking up new combinations, we counteract this flow of entropy. We make new structures, new wholeness’s, so the universe comes out even.” But in current economic practice it has not come out even. Matter must come from energy, wealth from debt, but wealth is necessarily “limited by the amount of low-entropy energy that it can sustainably suck from its environment and by the amount of high-entropy effluent from an economy that the environment can sustainably absorb.” When debt exceeds the capacity of the environment both physical and social, as recent events would suggest and as Malthus and Soddy predicted, correction happens through crisis. More recent work by Romanian-born economist Georgescu-Roegen models the economy on a living system, perhaps a more apt metaphor for the economy – one that makes explicit the direct relationship between the consequences of a capitalist economy, energy, and entropy, and between ecology and economy. [Eric Zencey] In the mean time it behooves us to keep making things and wholes so the universe comes out even.

The Sam Fox School will host the first ever joint administrators meeting of the ACSA (American Collegiate Schools of Architecture) and the NCAA (National Council of Arts Administrators) on November 4-11. The conference theme is Economies Art + Architecture and will draw over three hundred art and architecture administrators from around the country. The conference will focus on establishing new directions for creative leadership, education, and practice. Designer John Maeda president of the Rhode Island School of Design, formerly of the MIT Media Lab, will give the keynote address. Three international awards for art and architecture sponsored by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies will be announced during the proceedings with the winners attending and giving talks.

THINK DIFFERENT

In 1997 the Los Angeles based ad agency Chiat/Day created the slogan “Think Different” for apple computer. The slogan was accompanied by photographs of significant historical figures including among others Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, and Buckminister Fuller. The campaign, commonly attributed to Steve Jobs, followed his return to Apple having been ousted eleven years before. Did he think different? Did Einstein? Did Einstein think differently than Dylan, Dr. King?

Do architects think different than landscape architects? Danish physicist Niels Bohr offers a perspective. Bohr believed that in relation to nature our perspective is always partial and incomplete, and only by entertaining multiple and at times mutually limiting points of view could we approach the real richness of the world. He used the Latin phrase contraria sunt complementa, to illustrate this – contraries are complementary. This was at the heart of an idea that he called complementarity which came to describe the fact that sub atomic particles may manifest themselves in contradictory forms at different times depending on the conditions of observation. A beautiful dimension of this idea is that we commonly think of “contraries” as opposites. In Bohr’s theory given that a complete picture of a complex situation can never be seen from one point of view, different views of the same situation are complementary not mutually exclusive. Applied to thinking, these ideas could constitute a foundation for interdisciplinary work if in fact architects do think different than landscape architects or think different than urban designers. While “interdisciplinary” has become a buzzword, especially in professional design programs and disciplines, the perceived value of this activity must rest in the expectation that the result be different from what would result from a single discipline. Otherwise what’s the point?

The School of Architecture at Washington University became an independent division in 1910. In 1962 the graduate program in urban design, the second oldest in the country, was founded by then faculty members Fumihiko Maki and Roger Montgomery. A change in the name of the school followed thereafter along with dual degrees in architecture, and social work. In 2006 the formation of the Sam Fox School brought the college and graduate schools of art and architecture together into a new interdisciplinary relationship along with the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. 2010 will mark the start of a new professional program in landscape architecture. We will welcome Professor Dorothée Imbert in January as the new chair of the program and the new students and faculty the following fall.

CHANGE

Paradoxically universities are charged with creating new knowledge but are also designed to resist change. Schools and colleges are expected to transform and create new knowledge through scholarship, creative practice, and research, while the institution of the university takes the long view such that change occurs with deliberation and with our best efforts, not despite them. Because of this they are extremely resilient but are also sometimes necessarily isolated to the context of immediate circumstances and events. Our recent graduates know all too well the specific context of the economic crisis.

One way to react to crisis is to rely on tried and true practices that have provided the foundation that counters the dynamic uncertainty, anticipating that moment when things return to normal. This works if things return to normal. If they don’t, another strategy might be in order. One that allows the crisis to precipitate change that otherwise might not have occurred. I don’t believe things will return to normal. Problems will remain. Relative to the profession of architecture, Jermey Till in his recent book Architecture Depends states that “problem solving is how the profession legitimates itself; setting problems is how it perpetuates itself…” and in this light, problem-solving is revealed as an inherently conservative act of incrementally shifting around what is already there in a manner directed by preconceived ideologies.” He goes on to argue that what architectural education does very well is to cultivate flexible thinking but it is too often applied towards the “imposition of architectural knowledge,” rather than the application of architectural intelligence. He speculates: is it possible to project “new spatial, and hence social conditions” ? Is it possible to “think different?”

I believe that students have an important role to play. Architect Daniel Libeskind states: “Students… not only are the respondents but the creators of awareness. They have always challenged the prevailing opinions and are the catalytic factor in transforming knowledge. It is time that students remembered that schools were set up to challenge the wisdom of the world and its corruption rather then reinforce it.” Students are the catalyst that allow the paradox of the university to be productive, enabling faculty to be teachers recalling Kierkegaard’s warning, “Take the paradox from the teacher and you get the Professor.” But this only happens within a context of critical dialogue and within a community where ideas are valued and questioned, and diversity of opinion cultivated through a “radical humility,” that opens the world to examination and therefore change.
Artist Paul Klee speculated that are heads are round so that we can change our mind.

Sincerely,
Bruce Lindsey