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Virginia Tech

September 11, 2015

Virginia Tech’s architecture programs can report two new administrative appointments:

Associate Professor of Architecture Jim Bassett has been appointed as the new chair of Foundation Studies. The chair of Foundation Studies is responsible for first year of study for undergraduate degree programs of architecture, landscape architecture industrial design, and interior design in the School of Architecture + Design.

Associated Professor of Architecture David Dugas has been appointed as the new chair of the Core Professional Bachelor of Architecture Program. David Dugas is responsible for the second and third years of study of the Bachelor of Architecture program.

Following promotions and awarding of tenure of architecture faculty have been made by Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors: Professor of Architecture Dr. Paul Emmons, Ph.D., R.A. was promoted to the rank of professor.

Associate Professor of Architecture
Dr. Elizabeth Grant, Ph.D., R.A. was granted tenure and was promoted to the rank of associate professor.

Virginia Tech’s architecture program can report the following outstanding achievement:

Nicholas Coates
, who graduated in May (2015) with a B.Arch. degree, has received the prestigious 2015 Skidmore Owings Merrill (SOM) Prize, a $50,000 travel and research fellowship []. His winning research proposal was entitled, “The Corner: A Marker of the New, A Memory of the Past.” Nick plans to travel to Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Japan. Faculty, students, and alumni congratulate Nicholas Coates for this outstanding achievement. Virginia Tech’s architecture program would also like to thank SOM for its continued support and investment towards the fostering of the education of architects.

Faculty News:

Professor of Architecture Dr. Mehdi Setareh, Ph.D., P.E. was awarded a $10,000 grant by the Structural and Architectural Engineering Program at the National Science Foundation to promote research experience for undergraduates. The grant sponsors participation of undergraduate students in research on building vibration serviceability issues. Three of his students, Sarah Spanski, Ava Mohebbi, and Emily Bell participated in the same program last year. Each presented the results of their studies at the 2015 National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Cheney, Washington, in April 2015. The papers have also been published as part of the conference.

Research Assistant Professor David Clark, Assistant Professor Dr. Nathan King, D.Des., and Professor Robert Dunay, F.A.I.A., members of the Center for Design Research (CDR) were invited to exhibit experimental student work developed with emerging digital technology at the 2015 International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. Technological Material Transformations featured projects developed with digital tools in the center’s undergraduate studio and work from the new robotics facility.

Robert Dunay, David Clark and Nathan King also presented work from the Virginia Tech Center for Design Research to a New York audience at Hafele headquarters in Manhattan. Furthering the goal to embed emerging technologies within architecture and design curriculums, Building the Future through Digital Design and Fabrication, a lecture accredited for AIA learning units, summarized past work of the Center while offering a prospectus for the future of design education and practice.

As part of the Design Boston Biennial, the Center for Design Research (CDR) worked with Mass Design Group in Boston to design, fabricate and erect an experimental pavilion on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston MA. The structure is the first building project produced using the newly launched Center for Design Research Design Robotics Studio led by Dr. Nathan King, David Clark, and Director of the Center for Design Research, Robert Dunay.

Professors King, Clark, and Dunay also hosted the first annual Design Robotics Summit in the newly developed Architecture + Design, Center for Design Research, Design Robotics Studio that included participants from: University of Tennessee, University of Virginia, Randolph-Macon College, Columbia College of Chicago, Rhode Island School of Design, Autodesk, and The Living. 

Dr. Nathan King, D.Des., and Schaffer Sommers, University of Virginia, along with a number of contributing faculty members from both universities announced the development of the Commonwealth Consortium for Design and Health.

Nathan King, along with collaborators Rachel Vroman, Kathy King, and Olga Mesa led the panel Innovating Ceramics: Collaboration, Technology, and Pedagogy at the 49th annual National Council on Education in the Ceramics Arts (NCECA) conference in Providence, Rhode Island. 

With Stefanie Pender, Rhode Island School of Design, and Dr. King co-founded the Glass Robotics Laboratory, a research collaboration that merges traditional glass working techniques and emerging design and computational technologies that led to the creation of the first ever Robotically 3D Printed Glass artifact.

Work produced at Virginia Tech by Assistant Professor Nathan King, Matt Lutz, Norwich University, and a team of collaborators entitled PLUG: Portable Laboratory on Uncommon Grounds was published in the recently released book Public Interest Design Practice Guidebook: SEED Methodology, Case Studies, and Critical Issues by Lisa M. Abendroth (Editor), Bryan Bell (Editor).

Through their collaboration The United Nathans, Nathan Melenbrink and Nathan King published a paper entitled “Fulldome Interfacing: A Real-time Immersive Environment as a Tool for Design” as part of the 20th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA) in the spring of 2015.

Robert Dunay and Professor of Architecture Jack Davis, F.A.I.A., Dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies, lead the program International Architecture and Design (IAD) in its 20th year. Principals and senior level architects traveled to Portugal and Spain for an in-depth review of the work of Alvaro Siza and Souto de Moura. After visiting a number of works in Lisbon, the group of 15 architects met with Siza in his office in Porto. Participants receive 36 AIA learning units during the week-long course.

Instructor of Architecture Rengin Holt has been awarded the third prize in theBellingham National 2015 Art Exhibition and Awards for her monoprint entitled, “Around the Corner” []. The selected works was exhibited at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington.

Visiting Assistant Professor Dr. Laura McGuire, Ph.D. recently published an essay, "Energy, Correalism, and the Endless House," in Endless Kiesler, Klaus Bolliger and Florian Medicus, eds. (Basel: Birkhäuser/Edition Angewandte, 2015). She also published an entry on Scientific Management in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design, Clive Edwards, ed. (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).

Professor of Architecture Dr. Markus Breitschmid, Ph.D., S.I.A. has been awarded an honorary medal by the Colegio de Arquitectos del Perú, the professional association of Peruvian architects. Breitschmid was awarded the medal for his contributions on the theme of “Modernismo Suizo.” Swiss Modernism is well recognized in Peru because a number of Swiss architects and designers immigrated to the Andean nation just after World War II and produced influential work that shaped the tradition of modern architecture of Peru. Breitschmid has authored several books and essays on the modern architecture of Switzerland that speak to that significant legacy.

Virginia Tech’s architecture program can also report a prominent departure of one of its allied faculty and program alumnae:

Professor Mitzi Vernon will be leaving Virginia Tech as she was appointed Dean of the College of Architecture at the University of Kentucky. Professor Vernon’s expertise will be missed at Virginia Tech, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the School of Architecture + Design. We will miss Mitzi and wish her the best in her new role.

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