April 19, 2023

College of Distinguished Professors April Newsletter

College of Distinguished Professors Look to the Past and Future in St. Louis

By Marleen Kay Davis, FAIA, DPACSA
Distinguished Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Architecture
Vice Chancellor, ACSA College of Distinguished Professors

The College of Distinguished Professors played a visible role at the ACSA 111th Annual Meeting, in shadow of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Keynote speaker and Topaz Award winner Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton, FAIA, DPACSA traced her distinguished career and commitment to education. She noted the footsteps of seven ancestors, teachers in the apartheid South. Through the power of research, publishing, and teaching, she challenged and inspired all of us to embrace the responsibilities and impact of education.

The most recent Distinguished Professors participated in a fascinating panel, where Patricia Oliver, Chancellor of the CoDP, asked each to reflect on their personal journeys in education. Linda Groat, of the University of Michigan, traced her decidedly non-linear path from a liberal arts student to an author of landmark books in architectural research and methods. She had advice to embrace opportunities and welcome serendipity.

Tom Leslie, of the University of Illinois, started his presentation with the statement, “My origin story as an architect started as a teenager visiting Chicago. Standing in front of the John Hancock building, I decided to become a structural engineer.” He captured a lifetime of creativity in teaching form-making and structures. At the end, he brought his talk full circle with the announcement of his latest book, due in 2023, entitled Chicago Skyscrapers, 1934-1986: How Technology, Politics, Finance, and Race Reshaped the City.

Peter MacKeith outlined his connection to learning about architecture, from his undergraduate days to his lifetime passion for the architecture of Finland. He paid tribute to influential individuals who seemed to interrelate his passion for theory, making, and education.

Joanna Lombard, of the University of Miami, started her presentation with a warm and generous tribute to Linda Groat, and the impact of Linda’s and Sherry Ahrentzen’s research regarding women in architectural education. Joanna continued to acknowledge that Linda Groat’s methodology in research continually informed Lombard’s research in the health and design, informing her own work, and teaching in Miami.

Kent Kleinman was quick to note how liberated he feels in his work currently at Brown University, especially in exploring design issues outside the realm of the standard NAAB architecture program. He also spoke fondly about his role as dean at Cornell University, along with his involvement in SUNY Buffalo.

The Emerging Faculty Fundraiser, co-sponsored by the College of Distinguished Professors, honored all of the ACSA Award winners, and sold out early. Held in the newly designed Visitors Center for the Gateway Arch, some attendees can say they experienced a 30-inch sway at the top of the arch, during a tornado watch. (Park rangers assured all it would be safe.)

Mark your calendars for the 112th Annual Meeting to be held in Vancouver. In the immediate future, the College of DPs will conduct its annual business meeting on May 16 at 7:00 pm Eastern. Future plans include recording brief “conversations” to archive on the web site of College of the Distinguished Professors. Finally, we are looking for nominations and self-nominations from members of the College to serve on the Executive Committee, beginning as Secretary and ending after four years as Past Chancellor. Please contact Marilys Nepomechie, if interested.