Director's Letter

Director's Letter, Spring 2018
College of Architecture
Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
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We live in a time when universities are responding to societal challenges through multidisciplinary approaches, design education included. Students sense this change, and many desire to bring education closer to a kind of citizenry—expanding their sense of responsibility and wanting to be part of a larger community of scholars and real-world conditions. Emerging from this systemic approach, the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design and the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences are searching for two faculty to collaborate through the St. Louis-based Divided City grant and energize connections between the two schools. The importance of being in St. Louis will also undoubtedly influence another search—the chair of graduate architecture. We will continue to discuss the relationship between practice and scholarship, how the city acts as a catalyst for research, and how creative discourse, analytics, and production shape the ambitions of our programs. Please join the faculty in participating in the candidate lectures this spring. Hiring new faculty is one of our primary responsibilities, and I look forward to receiving your thoughts.

We have an event-filled semester ahead, including a reflection on the work of our graduate architecture students through accreditation. The NAAB team will visit the school in February. To those working alongside faculty to gather materials that demonstrate breadth and depth of the school and program, thank you for generously contributing time from your busy schedules to complete this important work. I’d like to give special mention to Adrian Luchini and Valerie Greer for their leadership in curating the review materials, to Kelley Murphy for exhibition design and course content collection, to Stephen Leet for curating and organizing a faculty project exhibition, and—notably—to Audrey Treece for her guidance and management of program materials.

Workshop events this spring

This year, the Leslie Laskey charrette explores interdisciplinary influences in architecture, similar in spirit to a Bauhaus interdisciplinary arts culture that emphasizes an exchange of craft and technology in design education. Sponsored by Studio L, the selected moderator for this event is Ian Monroe. Ian received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis in 1995, and his Master of Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2002. His work has been featured in the Saatchi Gallery, with artworks that are heavily influenced by the discipline of architecture. He returns to St. Louis following his Freund Teaching Fellowship here in 2010-11. We will hear from Ian following the All-School meeting this month.

We will also be running an architecture workshop this semester with architect Karel Klein. Having recently moved from New York city to L.A., Karel and her partner David Ruy are longtime collaborators of the school. They are known for progressive design strategies that embrace technologies as essential components of an evolving natural environment. Her workshop this semester focuses on AI software as a collaborator in the production of images and object forms. The work of Ruy Klein includes Tidal Electric, a project exploring how to harvest energy from the tidal cycle by constructing low-profile, environmentally benign lagoons, and a bioprinter that prints live tissue cultures. Karel studied architecture at Columbia University and UIUC, where she also earned a degree in civil engineering. Her teaching experience includes Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Pratt Institute, and her current appointment at UCLA. Although overseas, urban design students will be privileged to work with Oliver Schulze, a longstanding member of the Sam Fox School community who has taught an urban design master class for 6 years. Previously the director of the Gehl Studio in Copenhagen, Oliver is now practicing as partner at Schulze+Grassov. The firm is known for their work in tactical urbanism projects and for developing frameworks in sustainable urban development. Please also add to your calendar a visit by Thom Mayne of Morphosis. He will be delivering the Ruth Kahn Lynford Lecture this year, concurrently scheduled with our graduate open house for admitted students.

Welcome to our visiting faculty

I would like to take the opportunity of this letter to re-introduce a number of visiting faculty that are dedicated to our school. We benefit greatly from their return.

Ian Caine joins us from Texas, where he is an assistant professor at the University of Texas San Antonio. Previously based in St. Louis, Ian holds an MArch degree in architecture and urbanism from MIT, and a BA in political science as well as an MArch from Washington University in St. Louis. As a registered architect and urban designer, Ian’s research is expansive, with current work examining suburban and megaregional expansion of cities. He will work with Pablo Moyano this spring in the urban design studio.

Please also welcome back Yen Ha; she joins us from New York, where she is founding principal of Front Studio. The firm has received several design awards from the AIA, and they have shown their work at the Center for Architecture and Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York city, the Building Centre in London, and the IFA Galleries in Berlin. Yen, a licensed architect and LEED professional, attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris for studies in urbanism. She will be teaching in our undergraduate options studios this semester.

Nanako Umemoto and Javier Maroto will be joining us to teach in the graduate options studios. Nanako earned her Bachelor of Architecture from the Cooper Union, following studies at the School of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture at the Osaka University of Art. Nanako has taught at various schools in the US and Asia, including Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Hong Kong University, Kyoto University, and the Cooper Union. Along with Reiser, she is principal of RUR Architecture DPC, an internationally recognized, multidisciplinary design firm with several building projects underway. They recently won two international competitions: the Taipei Pop Music Center and the Kaohsiung Port Terminal, which received the 2014 Progressive Architecture Award. A comprehensive monograph of the project, O-14: Projection and Reception, was published by AA Publications in 2012. Reiser + Umemoto published the Atlas of Novel Tectonics in 2006, a seminal book reflecting on the influences of architecture and culture, technology, art, and architectural history, offering inspiration and insight into early digital design influences. Javier is a full professor at ETSAM/UPM/DPA in Madrid, Spain, and spent 2014-16 with us as a visiting professor of architecture. Previously, Javier was a visiting scholar and critic at Harvard GSD, where he obtained a research grant to develop Harvard “Archscapes.” His work focuses on the attributes of landscape and architecture in relation to contemporary urbanism—dealing with the investigation of the growing processes of cities through the analysis and study of residential systems. Javier has also previously taught at the University of Frankfurt, University of Berlin, University of Milan, University of Venice, Lund University in Sweden, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Rhode Island School of Design. His practice, Solid Architecture, grew from a partnership with Alvaro Soto established in 2001 with the intent of holistically bringing together architecture, urbanism, and landscape.

Congratulations to students and faculty

It is my pleasure to recognize a number of student and faculty projects that have recently received national and international recognition. To start, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a competition that challenges students and faculty to design and build energy-efficient houses. They are judged in ten categories that include innovation, engineering, and market potential; WashU’s team tied for second in the architecture contest. Students and faculty from the Sam Fox School and Engineering & Applied Science worked together in the production of CRETE House—a radical departure from standard construction methodologies. Teams consisted of undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines, with faculty leadership provided by SFS faculty Hongxi Yin (InCEES), Pablo Moyano, and Ryan Abendroth, and in Engineering, Steve Bannes, (director of graduate studies in construction management), Tim Michels (Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering), and Chenyang Lu (Fullgraf Professor in Engineering & Applied Science), along with significant support from the office of InCEES, the International Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability.

Lecturer Charles Brown served as SFS faculty adviser in NOMA’s 45th annual competition. The core team consisted of graduate students Ralph Harper, Ngoc Nguyen, Baoyue "Bruce" Wang, Tianhe Zhang, Jingsi Zhang, and Siyang Liu. Graduate student Cierra Higgins, and undergraduates Allie Henner, Ellie "Erin" McLaughlin, and Taili Zhuang, contributed to the presentation and event efforts. The team placed first, designing a high school academy in a historical African-American community in Houston. Be on the lookout for upcoming NOMAS activities that extend beyond the annual competition this semester.

Please also congratulate undergraduate architecture students Rebecca Resnic and Johanna "Jojo" Yee and graduate students Rachel Madryga and Mengru Wang, who took first place in the AIA Central States student design competition with the guidance of visiting assistant professor Jonathan Stitelman. Focusing on themes of resilient and inclusive communities, the competition paralleled the AIA’s New Urban Agenda, calling for architects to more actively participate in early stages of planning and urban development, stated as a priority in the recent United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development.

I also want to recognize Hallie Nolan, president of the GAC, for her contributions this past semester at the AIA Large Firm and Dean’s Round Table. In this event, select schools and architectural practices set goals derived from contemporary challenges in architectural education and the profession. This year’s prevalent theme addressed increased diversity as a key priority; a resonant and urgent topic that coincides with a divided condition prevalent in cities across our country. Further, the group emphasized a need to claim broader territories in which architects work in order to increase the quality and visibility of community-guided missions in everyday places. Each school brings one elect student to represent future discourse concerns. As a dual degree student in architecture and urban design, Hallie spoke eloquently from the student’s perspective on the theme of citizen architect, remarking on the importance of interdisciplinary education, leadership, and entrepreneurial opportunities. The event culminated in the resolution for a 2030 Challenge for Diversity & Equity in the Profession.

A significant portion of faculty time is spent advancing knowledge within the design professions through different types of research. Projects are numerous and occur over different spans of time, contributing to the strength of our programs, redefining values among students and faculty, and contributing to the balance of the world around us. It is therefore beyond this letter to fully capture the range and significance of these efforts, yet I will mention a few notable achievements to signify a breadth of ambition.

To begin, Eric Mumford's Designing the Modern City: Urbanism Since 1850 is set to be released this spring. It is an international survey of urbanism and urban design since the industrial revolution—the first comprehensive look at urban design history since Spiro Kostof’s in 1991. It tackles the monumental task of situating colonialism, segregation, the ecology movement, and the housing and urbanization conditions of informal settlements within the larger, historical narrative.

Next, several of our faculty placed as finalists in the Chouteau Greenway Master Plan competition. We can look forward to viewing their proposals this spring. This international competition is significant in its ambitions to connect Washington University and Forest Park to downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch as part of a public-private partnership bringing together rivers, parks, and communities. Derek Hoeferlin co-led a team with TLS Landscape Architecture of Berkeley, California, and Object Territories of Hong Kong and New York. Their team includes Linda Samuels, Paola Aguirre, and Michael Allen. Amanda Williams (of last year's PXSTL team) also placed as finalist with the Stoss Landscape Urbanism team from Boston.

Last, I would like to give special mention to Rod Barnett for bringing XTreme LA to St. Louis for their annual charrette in October. Sponsored by Landscape Forms and the Landscape Architecture Foundation, the challenge brings together young landscape architects from across the country with university students to address critical issues of the discipline. This year, the team focused on the Wells/Goodfellow neighborhood in north St. Louis, tackling issues of flood mitigation, biodiversity, habitat, and public health. Fitting within our program strengths in ecological urbanism and social justice, Washington University in St. Louis is an ideal place to explore these themes.


This year’s graduation recognition ceremony for the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design will be held in Graham Chapel, a departure from our longstanding tradition of celebrating the ceremonial event in the oak allée. The interconnected system of trees held special meaning to many of us for its enduring identity that outmeasured seemingly permanent constructs of campus architecture. Tradition was first altered with construction at the Brown School of Social Work, where previously the ceremonial path traveled under a low-hanging scotch elm tree to arrive at the allée of oaks. I think still of that missing tree at graduation, as I imagine we will hold the oak trees in our mind’s presence in future landscapes of the East End Transformation. The cover of the this letter reminds us of the first cuts on site, a delicate surgery extracting the roots. This work was performed by Jesse Vogler and students of the Sam Fox School. We are now witness to an amazing array of workers and machinery building structures and platforms together as one linked construct from underground—a ground-raising of a complex landscape and building site, evolving daily as a metamorphosis from design to building happening right outside of Given’s windows. The anticipated Weil Hall brings us closer to graduate programs in art, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design in the proximity intended to echo the mission of the Sam Fox School. While there is currently much uncertainty and anxiety in national and global politics, we are fortunate to be in a school that encourages diverse points of view, supports humane forms of investment in our community, encourages respect, compassion, and equity—a school that remains eternally committed to the hopeful belief that educational institutions make significant advances for the lives of all.

Welcome back to school!

Best Wishes

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