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Annual Report 2011-12

Director’s Summary

The 2011-12 academic year brought unprecedented honors to the School of Architecture + Design. The Virginia Tech LumenHAUS was selected by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as one of nine recipients of the 2012 AIA Institute Honor Awards for Architecture. Among the other award winners this year were projects by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Morphosis Architects, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, and Marlon Blackwell Architect. To our knowledge, this is the first time a university team has been given this prestigious national honor. The LumenHAUS team, led by Profs. Robert Dunay, FAIA, Joe Wheeler, AIA, Robert Schubert, and David “Chip” Clark, adds this award to a long list of accolades, including winning first place in the Solar Decathlon Europe competition in the summer of 2010 and a 2011 Honor Award from the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects.

Also receiving a 2011 Merit Award from the Virginia Society of the AIA for the new Farmers Market which they designed and built in Covington, VA was the design/build LAB, a 17-member team of third-year undergraduate architecture students led by faculty members Keith and Marie Zawistowski. This year, the design/build LAB has been working on the design and construction of an amphitheater for the Town of Clifton Forge, VA.

Again this year, DesignIntelligence ranked our professional programs very highly in its annual survey of design education in the US. For 2012, Virginia Tech’s undergraduate Architecture program was ranked #3 in the nation by professionals, moving up from #4. Deans of architecture schools across the nation ranked the program #2, citing the program’s “design quality, preparation for professional practice, and collaboration with other majors.” The undergraduate program in Interior Design tied for #8 nationally in the professional rankings. The deans ranked the program #3, citing its “faculty, comprehensive education, and collaborative teaching approach.” The undergraduate Landscape Architecture program was ranked #13 in the nation, and the graduate program tied for #12 in the rankings by professionals. The deans ranked the undergraduate program #4, citing its “excellent resources, good design program, and diversity of students.” The deans’ survey ranked the undergraduate program in Industrial Design #2 in the nation, citing its “emphasis on human factors, comprehensive program, and quality of students.” Each year, DesignIntelligence also lists the 25 “most admired” design educators from across the US, and again included in this prestigious group was Prof. Robert Dunay, Director of the Center for Design Research and the T.A. Carter Professor of Architecture.

Our students continue to receive national recognition for their work. For example, two Interior Design students received top honors in the annual student design competition sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Hannah Chessman was awarded first place in the 2012 ASID Student Design Competition, and Jennifer Boyd received an honorable mention. This is the third year in a row that a Virginia Tech Interior Design student has won one of the two national competitions for students of interior design. Industrial Design student Reid Schlegel has been selected as one of five 2012 National Student Merit Award winners by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

Our faculty also garnered awards for their teaching, research, and outreach work. Industrial Design Prof. Mitzi Vernon received the William E. Wine Award, the University’s highest teaching honor. Landscape Architecture Prof. Laurel McSherry was named one of five $10,000 Research Award winners in the 2011-12 William Turnbull Competition, sponsored by the California Architectural Foundation. Industrial Design Profs. Ron Kemnitzer and Ed Dorsa were part of an interdisciplinary team that received the University’s 2012 XCaliber Award for excellence as a group involved with technology-assisted teaching.

Industrial Design Prof. Akshay Sharma received the University’s Alumni Award for Excellence in International Outreach for his work on how design can creatively address some of the most critical issues being faced by societies around the world, especially for those below the poverty line. Along with a group of Industrial Design and Architecture students, Sharma has traveled to India to test design projects to improve the everyday lives of people in very poor communities. The program, entitled “Designing Empowerment,” focuses on the technical and social factors that define life for the world’s poorest and attempts to create practical tools to assist them. Two projects undertaken by this group, immune and laXmi, have recently received international recognition, including being selected for Bronze Awards in the prestigious International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) program from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

William Galloway
Director, School of Architecture + Design