Director's Letter

Director's Letter, Fall 2017
College of Architecture
Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
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This year will be a time of transitions and self-reflection as we prepare for graduate architecture’s accreditation this fall. I am eager to engage in this process that is meant to evaluate while also looking forward to future ambitions. Next academic year we will host the landscape architecture accreditation team. This is an exciting time to be a part of the school, prioritizing our core program strengths while also furthering the interdisciplinary and research promise of the Sam Fox School. I have a few projects to share from the work of our students in the public realm:

Spectroplexus: Structural Substances

Have you traveled through the ticketing lobby of the Southwest terminal (Terminal 2) at St. Louis Lambert International Airport? Look up, and you will see Spectroplexus, the work of graduate architecture students led by faculty Lavender Tessmer and Jason Butz. Approximately 1,800 molded carbon fiber frames and polycarbonate panels are suspended in air. The course Structural Substances is part of a larger initiative to promote community relationships through design projects in the city. Students interface with clients and experience fabrication challenges unique to built works. This project was organized through the school’s Office for Socially Engaged Practice, which brings together research, teaching, and practice. In addition to taking on socially complex challenges in architecture, faculty and students are empowered to engage cultural venues to develop theoretical positions and consider unique approaches to practice. For Lavender and Jason, this project is part of a series of works resulting in the production of hybrid assemblies of analog and digital structures and the conceptual development of geometric and aggregating patterns in architecture.


Team WashU’s CRETE House will compete against solar houses produced by 11 other collegiate teams in the 2017 Solar Decathlon in Denver. Made of precast concrete sandwich panels, the exterior walls are thin, reducing the weight of traditional precast walls; the use of concrete also lends the structure energy- and cost-related benefits. The pattern design plays with thinness/thickness, demonstrating an aesthetic and performance-based level of precision with high-strength concrete. The project is about resiliency and durability, increasing the life cycle on an affordable house. It also provides a platform for productive landscapes with a home garden system that is integral to the design.

Please consider volunteering to help with the Solar Decathlon project! Students are invited to assist in the construction, public exhibition, and deconstruction process in Denver, Colorado. As two of the students involved with the project, Ethan Miller and Dylan Callahan, note, “The students within our Sam Fox School, as well as other schools across Washington University, have an incredibly unique opportunity to build a house for the second time, with guidance from the lessons learned during the initial build here in St. Louis.” Some funds are available to support travel and accommodations for volunteers; contact senior lecturer Ryan Abendroth ( for details.

Following the competition, CRETE House will return to WashU to its final home at the Tyson Research Center.

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

The Seoul Biennale, the first of its kind in Korea, examines the city as the center of sustainability. Seoul is immersed in issues related to social equity, the environment, building technology methods, political structures, shifting cultural influences, and global relationships. Two of our recent graduate studios—Dongwoo Yim’s studio on micro-housing and political structures, and Erik L’Heureux’s studio on atmosphere and culture—worked within the framework of this biennale. Their work is exhibited in Seoul this September.

Welcome to our new and returning faculty

I would like to take the opportunity of this letter to introduce and thank a number of people for their contributions to the school. Without communal efforts, our programs would be a fraction of their formal selves. To begin, I would like to thank Adrian Luchini (as interim chair of graduate architecture) and Valerie Greer (as coordinator of graduate architecture) for their leadership and dedication to the school during this important time of transition. Valerie, an alumna of graduate architecture and former vice president at HOK, was appointed professor of practice last year, and Adrian has been a stalwart of the program during his thirty-two years at the university. Formerly co-chair of graduate architecture, Adrian played an important role elevating the status of our nationally recognized program.

Assistant professor Constance Vale joins us from California, where she taught at SCI-Arc and UCLA. Based in Los Angeles and New York, her research and design practice, Vale Collins Studio, engages both art and architecture. Constance has a background in fine arts, with a bachelor’s degree from Parsons School of Design and a master’s degree in architecture from Yale. Teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs in architecture, Constance will work with faculty to reconsider early design pedagogies, with her work leading to a future Sam Fox School symposium on the subject. In her words, “Forgetting is indispensable to learning; if you assume that you already know something, you will be closed down to obtaining any new information about it. To be clear, this is not an endorsement of forgetting history, but one of forgetting preconception. Assumptions are the greatest danger to every participant in pedagogy: well-worn vocabulary haunts the veteran, perceived familiarity derails the novice, and habit starves institutions.” We look forward to fresh starts, and to her contributions.

Assistant professor Eric Ellingsen joins us from Chicago, where he was the assistant director of the Master of Landscape Architecture program at IIT. Prior to this, he was co-director of the Institute for Spatial Experiments in Berlin, working with Olafur Eliasson to create new interdisciplinary models for teaching and practice. He earned master’s degrees in landscape architecture and architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a master’s degree in classical philosophy from St. John’s College. He has worked across the globe in the United States, Ethiopia, China, Brazil, Greece, Switzerland, Iceland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Eric notes, “As educators, we must attend to the mediums, not just the messages. Our pedagogical models must feedback into the world in ways that generate new forms of freedom, and foster environments where more inclusive forms of democracy can flourish. I believe design students must learn to render the world more real, rather than simply make renderings of the world. I believe, as urban planner Jan Gehl says, that we tend to measure what we care about.”

Welcome to our visiting faculty

The school has a history of working with exemplary practitioners from around the world. I look forward to the contributions of the following visiting faculty this fall.

Ruth and Norman Moore Visiting Professor
Peter Rose is a renowned practitioner from Boston, with a long-standing history in academia. A member of the AIA College of Fellows, Peter earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Architecture degrees from Yale University. He started his practice in 1978 and has received numerous awards in architecture and urban design. Peter speaks on the subject of architecture and the city, connecting tradition and modernity in lessons to students. He has taught at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Princeton University, McGill University, and the University of Toronto. Peter is known for his holistic approach to design, with attention to architecture as research, as a practice of collaboration and communication. He thinks carefully about culture and site, as well as the poetics of materiality.

Visiting Professors
We are fortunate to have our long-time collaborators Antonio Sanmartín, Emiliano López, and Mónica Rivera back with us for the fall semester, all returning from Barcelona. Antonio partnered with Adrian Luchini this summer on our Barcelona study abroad program. Quart Verlag Luzern recently published a book about Emilano and Mónica’s practice, Domestic Thresholds.
Saundra Weddle, who taught in spring 2017, also returns this fall. In addition to teaching courses in architectural history and theory, she will continue to collaborate with Daniel Bornstein, a professor of history and religious studies in Arts & Sciences, on work supported by a grant from The Divided City initiative.

New to our visiting faculty is Sulan Kolatan, who earned her Master of Science in Architecture and Building Design from Columbia University, as well as her Diploma from RWTH Aachen in Germany. She is principal of KOL/MAC, the design firm she co-founded with William MacDonald in 1988. She is an adjunct associate professor at the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute, and has taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Columbia University, Barnard College, Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, Parsons School of Design, and University of Virginia.

Sulan joins us to examine speculative architecture in the Medini Iskandar Smart City in Malaysia, with a focus on issues of technology, mobility, sustainability, and Southeast Asia geopolitics.

Visiting Associate Professor
Julie Bauer previously served as associate director at David Chipperfield Architects, where she supervised the detail and design development of the Saint Louis Art Museum in coordination with HOK, the architect of record for the project. She also worked with Chipperfield from New York, where she served as the firm’s New York representative and acted as liaison for the new Modern and Contemporary wing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her career in Europe started at Barkow Leibinger Architects in Berlin. Most recently she held a senior role at REX Architecture, working on institutional, residential, and mixed-use projects. Julie studied at IIT and the Technical University of Berlin. She returns to St. Louis with her family, joining us in Degree Project this semester.

Visiting Assistant Professor
Paola Aguirre earned her Master of Architecture in Urban Design at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and her Bachelor in Architecture from the Instituto Superior de Arquitectura y Diseño in Mexico. She is founder of the urban design consultancy Borderless Studio, focusing on urban research and interdisciplinary projects. Previously she was an urban design fellow at Place Lab in Chicago and a senior urban designer at SOM; she most recently taught at the School of Art Institute in Chicago. Paola joins Linda Samuels in the urban design studio this fall.

Congratulations to faculty receiving promotions

Sung Ho Kim was granted promotion to full professor. Sung Ho’s recent work includes interdisciplinary collaborations in the areas of emerging technologies and biological systems. He partnered with the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center on course work that led to the publication Cellular Transformation. He also partnered with the School of Medicine to study building and human skins as adaptive envelopes with regenerative environmental qualities. His work with computer science examined new tools of visual perception using Google Earth technology. Among his projects in practice, Sung Ho most recently began work on an international high school in Hangzhou, China, and formed a partnership studio in Jecheon, Korea.

Derek Hoeferlin was granted tenure and promoted to associate professor. Derek recently won first prize in the Designing Resilience in Asia International Open Competition. Working with student research assistants Jess Vanecek and Rob Birch, Derek examined Mekong River Basin communities as part of his ongoing research in Watershed Architecture. This was one of several competition-winning projects Derek has been involved with; others include The Continental Compact (with Ian Caine), Studio MISI-ZIIBI (led by professor John Hoal), and Resilient Bridgeport.

Jonathan Stitelman was promoted to visiting assistant professor. Jonathan is a graduate of the Sam Fox School, where he was a Danforth Scholar and earned dual master’s degrees in architecture and urban design. He began teaching here as a lecturer in 2011. He teaches across programs and is well recognized for his collaborative work throughout the school. Recent projects include the aforementioned Studio MISI-ZIIBI, a graduate studio tied to PXSTL (with Amanda Williams and Andres L. Hernandez), and most recently, the playful Feast of Facades event, hosted by the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Jonathan will be a visiting faculty member at Cornell University during the spring 2018 semester.

Congratulations to staff receiving promotions

Audrey Treece was promoted to programs manager for the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design. She will work in the office of the director and with the program chairs on strategic initiatives, in addition to managing course planning and macro-level operations for the programs.

Aaron Akins was promoted to associate registrar. Although his work is often conducted behind the scenes, Aaron plays an integral role in the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, keeping programs on track and establishing processes to assist students in their path toward graduation.

Congratulations to staff in transition

Please join me in thanking our dedicated staff in transition. Melinda Compton Carter is moving to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as the director of creative services for admissions and aid. Mariana Parisca will take time to focus on her own artwork, in preparation for graduate school. And Amanda Bowles is joining the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as manager of philanthropic communications; in addition to her role as assistant to the dean, Amanda worked closely with faculty and students to help redefine the look of some of the publications used to promote both our undergraduate and graduate programs.

In addition, Merijam Hajderovic has joined our staff in a temporary role, and is handling many of the administrative duties in Givens 105 while Ellen Bailey is out on maternity leave.

Please join me in thanking former Dean Bruce Lindsey

When Bruce traveled to work each morning, he drove through Forest Park. The decision to detour, to take time to observe the changing landscape and to preserve those moments through photography—this routine embodied Bruce’s approach to our school. He spent the last eleven years dedicated to diversity and the belief in one school, the Sam Fox School, as a place of connection to the broader world. He listened and thought about issues in depth, trusting people to come to collective decisions. His sense of ethics, along with his keen visual understanding, allowed him to see the design school through a special lens.

Bruce believed in guiding forces: urban design is of emerging importance, and landscape urbanism is at the forefront of education. From the spring 2017 Dean’s Letter, “I would emphasize that in the face of what sometimes seem like intractable national and international problems, cities become the operational ground for change. Education in this context becomes a radical practice of democracy.” His view of architecture was inextricably linked to urban design, and he believed materiality of landscape unique in its ability to express change through time.

Bruce talks about fundamental world questions, and our ability to see beyond standard assumptions to creatively pose solutions that either a beginning designer may freely answer, or an interdisciplinary team may uncover. He believes in giving others the opportunity to grow, and expresses compassion for the life of individuals and the global community that makes up our undergraduate college and graduate school. Among his many accomplishments, Bruce was a key contributor to the making of the Sam Fox School. He launched the Master of Landscape Architecture program in 2010, initiated the Center for Health Research & Design, and helped organize the Office for Socially Engaged Practice. Bruce is away on sabbatical this upcoming year, returning to teach in fall 2018. In the meantime, we will celebrate his leadership and vision through events and a photography exhibition of his work in October.

I look forward to this new academic year and working with you in the weeks ahead.

Best Wishes

Heather Woofter, Director
College of Architecture | Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design