Director's Letter

In the One Tree Studio, students explored the meanings of one pin oak through excavation, drawing, video, and other processes.

Director's Letter, Spring 2019
College of Architecture
Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
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Happy New Year!

I recently visited Buenos Aires for final reviews and was struck by the cohesive strength of Washington University faculty teaching there. Thanks to Alejandra Achaval, Jeffrey Berk, Gerardo Caballero, Gustavo Cardon, Daniel Kozak, and Fernando Williams for their commitment. Adrian Luchini and the Buenos Aires team create a warm dynamic of faculty pulling together to challenge and inspire students in contemporary explorations relevant beyond the boundaries of South America. In their 16th year, the Buenos Aires cohort represents practicing architects, historians, urbanists, environmentalists, and building technology experts engaging complex cultural histories, natural resource and infrastructural challenges, and social issues—especially those associated with under resourced immigrant communities. I was impressed with the team approach to teaching and how it integrated the content of courses to add depth and broader understanding to design projects and travel perspectives. Highly accomplished in both research and practice individually, the faculty are devoted to the refinement and beauty of architecture as a built form in addition to their beliefs that integrated disciplines create significant impact in the lives of local citizens.

As we look to examine our curricula in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design during the months ahead, this program serves as a model of integrated learning and cohesive collaboration. Back in St. Louis, faculty recently voted unanimously to make adjustments to our studio schedule and frameworks for advancing the ongoing work that promises to embrace these principles. Expect more news in the coming months as we engage students in a process to strengthen our collective programs.

Upcoming workshop events

Igor Marjanović and faculty of the undergraduate architecture program will lead two events this spring semester: the Laskey Charrette for Freshmen and Sophomores and the Fitzgibbon Charrette for Juniors and Seniors. Leslie Laskey, an artist and Professor Emeritus at Washington University, is a passionate advocate for foundation design education across disciplines and his studio exercises often included projects of various media and scale. This year we are pleased to welcome two architects whose work embraces lighting design: Jerry Kugler, founder of Kugler Ning Lighting, and Aki Ishida, Associate Professor of Architecture at Virginia Tech.

MUD students participating in the Lively City Behavioral Studies & Public Space Design workshop will travel to London this year, joining Oliver Schulze and Mohammed Almahmood, a research specialist and project Manager at Schulze + Grassov based in Copenhagen. The office is a global practice and interdisciplinary collaborative focusing on public space design investigating strategies for sustainable urban environments. The DrSU program will host Doug Farr of Farr Associates from Chicago—a team of planners and architects also working in integrated design teams to create sustainable buildings and places. Please check out his books, which include Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future (2018) and Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature (2012).

We welcome back to St. Louis Karel Klein for her second workshop in a series entitled Misreading Objects through Machine Vision. In addition to continuing her work with AI software in the production of images and objects that reflect an evolving natural environment, Karel started working directly with experts in artificial intelligence, rewriting the neural network code (NN) lending a different workshop focus this semester. The change signifies the importance of understanding both the underlying technology and the application of software available to designers. Our joint degree program with Computer Science strives to achieve this balance, affording students an understanding of both the engineering behind digital design tools and the conceptual significance and making capacity of the tool itself.

Welcome to our new and visiting studio faculty

Jennifer Yoos returns to join the undergraduate options studio sequence. Her practice, VJAA, with partner Vincent James recently completed phase I of the Minnesota Museum of American Art known as ‘the M’ in a rehab project with original Cass Gilbert architecture. Ginés Garrido also returns to campus this spring as the Ruth and Norman Moore Visiting Professor. His many academic appointments include a position as guest lecturer for the MAS in Collective Housing program, where he specializes in Landscape Architecture in a practice-oriented synthesis of design integrating disciplines. His firm, Burgos & Garrido, recently received the Urban Open Space Award 2018 for their work on the Madrid Rio Park—an ambitious project begun in 2005 that connects the southern and northern parts of the city, benefitting many under-resourced neighborhoods. Assistant Professor Petra Kempf will begin teaching in architecture and urban design this spring semester. She is joined by Visiting Professor Viren Brahmbhatt for the spring semester urban design studio. Viren is principal of de.Sign Studio llc in New York and Mumbai as well as an Adjunct Associate Professor at GSAPP, Columbia University. He previously worked with the NYC Housing Authority as an urban designer and architect on urban design projects aimed at improving quality of life for inner-city neighborhoods and expanding the affordable housing in New York City. Viren also has held teaching positions at the School of Architecture (CEPT) in Ahmedabad and Pratt Institute since 2007. He is currently working on architecture and urbanism research examining the Cities of the Global South. Lastly, please welcome back recent graduate of the MArch program, Amela Parcic. She joins the undergraduates teaching as Lecturer in Drawing Foundations this spring semester.

Events and achievements

Please join me in congratulating Igor Marjanović for his recent installation as the JoAnne Stolaroff Cotsen Professor. We celebrated his work through the presentation, How to Make a Revolution, featuring Igor’s academic achievements as Chair of Undergraduate Architecture, as an author, as well as his exhibition collaborations featured most prominently through the Drawing Ambience exhibition. Please also extend congratulations to Sung Ho Kim for receiving a university-level Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award this past semester.

Mónica Rivera served as the faculty advisor for the AIA Central States 2018 Student Design Competition. Graduate students Dylan Draves and Alexis Raiford, as well as undergraduate students Erin McLaughlin and Dylan Chan, won first place in this competition with a four-thousand-dollar prize. From their work in practice, please congratulate faculty members Eric Hoffman and Anna Ives of Patterhn Ives. They won six design awards in September from AIA St. Louis.

Rod Barnett and the MLA program held the annual ANOVA landscape architecture competition this past fall semester to consider the region’s labor history. Students were asked to design a social infrastructural path as a memorial, historical piece and as an instigator for current labor and workers’ rights issues. ANOVA’s CEO Eric Gilbert visited St. Louis to lead the effort, awarding first place to students Qinyi Li, Mengying Li, Simiya Sudduth, and Yuhan Zhang. In urban design Linda Samuels and Washington University alumni Anu Samarajiva, Lanxi Zhang, and Irum Javed will be featured in Reprogramming the City: Doing More With What We Have, written by Scott Burnham with projects from 17 countries, including First Class Meal which was named the winner of the international design competition Urban SOS: Fair Share in 2017.

Washington University hosted the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Joint Committee in November. Members are currently working on a mission of support for collaborative degrees in Architecture and Construction Management. Our joint degree program was recognized as a national model by leaders of both industries. Engineering Professor Steve Bannes led discussions exploring our integrated curriculum and experiential learning opportunities. The event was highlighted by student and alumni participation. The degree project studio in Architecture and the capstone class in Construction Management are examples of curricular overlaps where students bring combined knowledge to bear on individually driven design exercises.

Looking back and projecting forward

Associate professor Maggie Garb passed away a few weeks ago. A beloved colleague, she was an inspiration to many of us. Maggie taught courses on the American city and the history of poverty and social reform. Her written works include City of American Dreams: A History of Home Ownership and Housing Reform in Chicago 1871-1919 (2005) and Freedom’s Ballot: African American Political Struggles in Chicago from Abolition to the Great Migration (2014). Maggie practiced her social beliefs in addition to conducting research. She co-established the Prison Education Program (PEP) at Washington University in St. Louis with Robert Henk in 2014, motivating faculty to travel and teach their courses with students competitively admitted while in prison. The first class will graduate this spring.

In 2007 Maggie co-founded City Seminar with Eric Mumford with the following call: “we invite you to join us in forming a new interdisciplinary seminar for the presentation of new work on the city. This will be a forum in which scholars across disciplines and from the colleges and universities in the St. Louis area can share ideas, research methods, theories and topics on anything related to urban issues in the United States and abroad…. We hope this forum will help to build an intellectual community around urban scholarship and urban politics.”

This multi-year project led to the formation of the Mellon Foundation Grant, Divided City, led by Professors Jean Allman and Bruce Lindsey. In September, Divided City received a continuation of support with an additional four years of funding. Looking ahead, this important initiative will support collaborative research, field institutes and curriculum development centered on urban segregation, bringing together humanities and design in an effort to affect change among faculty, students, and communities.

In a recent Madame Architect interview with Annie Rolland, AR80, GA82—new member of the SFS National Council and principal at FXCollaborative—states “the greatest lessons learned from my time at WUSTL were curiosity and exploration at all costs, lateral thinking, and the importance of being an engaged citizen…. Perhaps the greatest role at this point in my career is to mentor. To instill in others what I have learned and evolved to be. To pass on values and an ethos, not only in how as architects we can contribute in meaningful ways, but that it is our obligation to do so.”

As a historian and social activist, Maggie Garb was such an individual.

Best wishes on your spring 2019 semester!

Heather Woofter

Director | College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
Sam and Marilyn Fox Professor