COVID-19: Stories of Innovation & Community

Posted by Sam Fox School May 8, 2020


Out of the extraordinary circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have no doubt that compelling, important work will emerge from our faculty, staff, and students. This page is your hub to learn about the ways our Sam Fox School community is working together to find creative, Innovative ways to engage our disciplines and to build a global community. Check back often, as we will update this page regularly. Have a story to share? Contact

Full House Exhibition at Localhost

Sam Fox School technology specialist Drew Nikonowicz founded Localhost, a miniature gallery in his studio accessible by an online video feed attached to a remote-control car. Artists are invited to submit works weekly for the exhibition Full House, which are broadcast weekly through Instagram live. The exhibition series will conclude on July 31; submission details are available on the exhibition website.

Dream Forward: Alumni Messages to the Class of 2020

Knowing what an irrevocable impact the COVID-19 has had on the Class of 2020's final semester at WashU, the Sam Fox School Advancement team wanted to do something special to acknowledge their creativity, courage, and innovation. They've launched a new website,, that features messages, stories, and images of inspiration and encouragement from over 140 alumni. "You may have heard a view expressed many times since your early days here that, as a graduate of the Sam Fox School, you are a member of a national network and global community of creative alumni in architecture, art, and design," said Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean. "When our alumni heard that the Class of 2020 would not have the same end-of-year experiences that have been part of our WashU community for decades, they responded in force to share their personal stories and words of encouragement." It's not too late for alumni to add a message of support. New submissions will be accepted through May 31 and added to the site periodically.

91st Annual WashU Fashion Design Show

Each year since 1929, students at Washington University in St. Louis have organized a fully choreographed fashion design show. It’s a rite of spring and a major event on the local fashion calendar. Rain or shine, war or peace, through boom economies and periods of recession—the fashion design show goes on. And so it will again, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit in unique form. At 4p Saturday, May 9, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will present the 91st Annual Fashion Design Show on YouTube and IGTV (Instagram TV). Learn more about this year's show—which will feature video profiles and capstone collections of BFA in Fashion Design seniors Raelyn Browning, Eric Li, Meredith Liu, Chandler Marten, Matthew McLoughlin, and Lina Willey—in this news release.

Sam Fox School & Pulitzer Arts Foundation Launch ASAP Fund

The Sam Fox School and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation have launched a new effort to support creative workers in the St. Louis area who are facing significant financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A Sustaining Arts Practice Fund (ASAP Fund) will award a total of $100,000, drawn from an endowment established at Washington University in St. Louis by Emily Rauh Pulitzer in 2004 to enhance the creative life of St. Louis through joint collaborative projects between the Pulitzer and the Sam Fox School. Through this initiative, the ASAP Fund will distribute fifty $2,000 grants to artists, architects, and designers in an effort to help replace lost income from cancelled exhibitions, performances, commissions, teaching opportunities, talks, contracts, or other work as a direct result of the crisis. Applicants should be able to demonstrate a sustained commitment to their work, career, and a public audience. Grants are unrestricted and can be used for a range of costs at the discretion of the recipient to help sustain their practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications may be submitted online at and are due by May 29, 2020.

Online Exhibition: Waiting for Water to Boil

Waiting for Water to Boil is an online exhibition of work from students in professor Jack Risley's art practice course Material as Metaphor. Featured students include Lena Cramer, Ryan Erickson, Alessandra Ferrari-Wong, Isolde Finney, Marina Hurwitz, Jordan Lee, Seri Lee, Tirzah Reed, Isa Sabraw, Gavi Weitzman, and Justine Xi. A Zoom opening for the exhibition will take place from 5:30-6:30p May 6, including a tour from 5:45-6:15p.

Sculpting in the Virtual Classroom

Learning to make three-dimensional work can be challenging even with in-person instruction. This story by Melissa Meinzer explores how five Sam Fox School sculpture faculty—Juan William Chávez, Noah Kirby, Arny Nadler, Jack Risley, and Lindsey Stouffer—made the transition to teaching online, and a look at some of the amazing work their students are producing. 

2020 BFA in Communication Design Capstone Exhibition

Check out the online exhibition of books, posters, animatics, and websites representing the culminating body of work for the following BFA in Communication Design seniors: Maddy Angstreich, Ariela Basson, Sara Berman, Emily Bielski, Kuu Chen, Jess Ewald, Jessica Fan, Gillian Fink, Lauren Fox, Jack Frischer, Emma Gindy, Hanna Goldstein, Lily Greenwald, Amanda Im, Mikki Janower, Yena Jeong, Lianne Kang, Jenny Kim, Michelle Kim, Sang-Jin Lee, Brian Lin, Rachel Nitzsche, Natalia Oledzka, Gabi Restrepo, Sarah Rhee, Katie Schneider, Megan Stansbury, Libby Thompson, Carmen Maria Von Unrug, Eve Wallack, Derrek Wang, Tara Wang, Claire Warhover, Ali White, Brandon Wilburn, Lily Yang, Kristina You, and Bersabeh Zenebe. The exhibition site was designed by Noah Baker (BFA17) and built by assistant professor Jonathan Hanahan.

Maker Task Force Works to Protect Health-care Workers

The COVID-19 WashU/BJC Maker Task Force has emerged as a hub for St. Louis-area makers to help health-care workers stay safe as they care for COVID-19 patients. The multidisciplinary group is working to develop 14 product lines, including isolation gowns, surgical masks, face shields, emergency ventilators, ventilator replacement parts, N95 respirators and methods to disinfect them. The Source outlines the task force's many efforts, including those involving Sam Fox School members Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, Wyly Brown, Leland Orvis, and Matthew Branham. "I've been researching innovative ways to engage clothing for health and well-being by collaborating with healtcare and engineering professionals and students for about eight years," said Ruppert-Stroescu, who is leading a task force section focused on masks and another focused on gowns. "The pace and stakes of the current task force is like nothing I have ever experienced."

Online Exhibition: Architectural Representation II

In this course, titled Image Fictions: Realism and the Aesthetics of Doubt, students were asked to construct a fictional past or present relative to an existing contested territory and the infrastructural architectures therein. In so doing, they had to consider the political, economic, or environmental histories and futures of their given site. Students produced a fictional archaeology of imagined ruins and relics or artifacts that appear in their narrative. The course was taught by assistant professor Constance Vale (coordinator) and senior lecturer Ryan Abendroth, with Zhao Yang serving as a teaching assistant. View the online exhibition of work in Miro, and check out the Virtual Course Spotlight on Instagram.

Derek Hoeferlin on Reimagining Global Engagement

Image: Zoom-based landscape architecture studio at the Sam Fox School, with a project by student Danni Hu. Courtesy: Derek Hoeferlin.


In a dispatch featured in Places journal's "Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching: 5," associate professor Derek Hoeferlin explores the need to reimagine the rules of global engagement, for students as well as practitioners, in light of our current global landscape. "Now is the moment to galvanize our international network to develop new pedagogical models that will deliver the best virtual studio possible for our students, and to create teaching models that reconnect systems, transmit new ideas, and encourage greater collectivity," writes Hoeferlin, chair of landscape architecture and urban design. Full story>>

Foster Families for Pets: BFA student Megan Lemaire

NBC News recently featured a story on people adopting and fostering shelter dogs and cats during the pandemic to keep themselves company while providing pivotal assistance to animal shelters. One of the individuals answering the call is BFA student Megan Lemaire, showing here taking her foster dog, Vorhees, on a walk in St. Louis. Full story>>

Linda Samuels on Learning Culture in a Time of Distance

In a dispatch featured in Places journal's "Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching: 4," associate professor Linda C. Samuels reflects on learning culture in a time of distance. "Certainly, there are big losses leaving behind the space of studio, but off-campus teaching is proving to be a ripe opportunity to reconsider the culture of sacrifice that has long marked design education," Samuels writes. Read the full article in Places.




BFA in Art Online Exhibitions


While our end-of-year shows may not take place in person this spring, we've come up with ways to share the incredible work our students are producing virtually. First up: the BFA in Art students are showcasing their work through a pair of online exhibitions. Titled We Regret To Inform You, the 2020 BFA in Art Thesis Exhibition features work by the following seniors: Libby Evan, Alessandra Ferrari-Wong, Zoë Finkelstein, Taylor Fulton, Ruoyi Gan, Arno Goetz, Marina Hurwitz, Lily Hyon, Jiyoon Kang, Zoë Morris, Franchesca Rousseas, Isa Sabraw, and Justine Xi. You Left Your Phone Here, the 2020 BFA in Art Junior Exhibition, features work by Charlie Bosco, Eliza Caperton, Lena Cramer, Madeleine DeMichele, Betsy Ellison, Isolde Finney, Avery Johnson, Janessa Johnson, Quinn Kernell, Alana Korol, Jordan Lee, Thomas No, Tirzah Reed, Gavi Weitzman, and Ziyi Zhang. Visit our Student Online Exhibitions page for these and other exhibitions of student work.

Virtual Course Spotlight: Drawing as Invention

These mixed media maps were created in the Drawing course co-taught by John Early (senior lecturer and undergraduate academic advising coordinator) and Shreyas R. Krishnan (2019-20 Wallace Herndon Smith Distinguished Visiting Assistant Professor). In his unit, Drawing as Invention, Early and his TA, Linnea Ryshke (a second-year MFA in Visual Art student), invited students to develop a map-based drawing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home with limited materials, students were encouraged to expand their visual vocabulary of mark-making by working experimentally and expressively with materials that were at hand. The resulting drawings explore themes including disorientation; isolation and disconnection; distance and uncertainty; and viral transmissions. Students in the course ranged from first-years to seniors, and include students from Art, Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Business, and Engineering. Check out their work on the course spotlight on Instagram and Facebook.

Sam Fox School Contributions to the WashU/BJC Maker Task Force

Faculty and staff from the Sam Fox School are teaming up with colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine, the McKelvey School of Engineering, and BJC HealthCare to help address the surging demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The WashU Maker Task Force aims to support patients and front-line medical staff by designing, prototyping, and testing potential PPE solutions—and coordinating their manufacture with local makers and fabricators.

Numerous members of the Sam Fox School—Matthew Branham, Wyly Brown, Heather Corcoran, Catalina Freixas, Leland Orvis, Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, and Enrique Von Rohr—have been involved with everything from the design and manufacturing of isolation gowns, to the production printing and parts cutting for face shields, to investigating ways to use data visualization and communication design to support PPE efforts. Learn more about these efforts through this story, and check back often for updates.

Shown in the photos above, instructional technician Matthew Branham fabricates face shield parts in Weil Hall's Caleres Fabrication Studio (photo: Joe Angeles), and associate professor Mary Ruppert-Stroescu models an isolation gown made from waterproof material (photo: courtesy Mary Ruppert-Stroescu).

Virtual Course Spotlight: HORIZONTAL SKYSCRAPER | Steel Cloud | ZERO DEGREE

In this graduate architecture options studio taught by professor Sung Ho Kim, students are exploring the notion of the zero degree, an abstract concept which encompasses illusions of space and infinity. For their site, students are addressing the new City Foundry STL, which will offer dining and entertainment options in a food hall-style experience in midtown. Their programs must incorporate a supermarket, other retail establishments, condominiums, and apartments. Ultimately, the goal is to create a dynamic new city center that will bring together the cultural and social scenes in its proximity. Check out featured student work by Ryan Do, Junhao Li, and Naitian Tian in the course spotlight on Instagram and Facebook.

Retrofitting Spaces for Infection Control: John Maher, faculty+BA10

John Maher—a visiting professor of architecture this semester, as well as an alum of our undergraduate architecture program—is part of MASS Design Group’s COVID-19 Design Response team. Over the past ten years, the firm has been building new spaces and retrofitting existing buildings to promote infection control, and to support their partners’ patient care efforts. Through their COVID-19 Design Response team, they are dedicating resources to respond to partner needs and to create design guidelines for how to retrofit different types of spaces for infection control. These materials will be made public to the community as they become available; some initial guides are already posted on the MASS website.

A senior associate with the firm, Maher currently has three hospitals in construction—Redemption Hospital, Nyarugenge District Hospital (pictured above), and Munini District Hospital—that have been recognized recently for using the principles of infection control that are shared in those documents. This ArchDaily article highlights some of those projects.

Virtual Course Spotlight: Panel by Panel: Narrative Comics

In Shreyas R Krishnan’s elective Panel by Panel: Narrative Comics, students are working on indie comics as their final project for the semester. The class recently enjoyed a guest lecture by cartoonist and editor Christina "Steenz" Stewart on how to pitch a comic. While discussing what a script for Emily Carroll's "His Face All Red" might look like, students discovered the annotate tool on Zoom, and their favorite line in the comic. Since then the group has been meeting with Shreyas and Linda Solovic to check in about their timelines, initial scripts, character sketches and rough page layouts as they each build a 4-6 page comic from scratch. Outside class hours, Krishnan has been pulling references customized for each student, from her collection to share with them over Slack and Zoom. Watch out for an online reading room coming soon with a semester's worth of student comics! Check out the spotlight on Instagram.

New Mexico Makers United: Andrew Woodard, MFA12

The Santa Fe Reporter profiles MFA in Visual Art alum Andrew Woodard, owner of Process Art Studio, who is heading up New Mexico Makers United, a movement by local makers to hand assemble 3D-printed and laser cut face shields and get them to the hospitals and clinics across the state that need them. Full story>>

Virtual Course Spotlight: Vacant/Wild/Ruined: Feral Urbanism

We've kicked off a new series of virtual course spotlights on social media to show how faculty have adapted their courses during the crisis, and the amazing things students are making despite the challenges. First up: senior lecturer Michael Allen's graduate studio, Vacant/Wild/Ruined: Feral Urbanism. He writes, "Before break, students in this seminar selected sites in and around the Old North St. Louis neighborhood that embody an aspect of urban vacancy, ruin or wilderness. Students have submitted midterm concepts for creative, achievable transformation of these sites that will be developed into full site proposals. Reviews are taking place online currently. The work will lead to an exhibition in the neighborhood later this year along with a catalog of proposals that will assist the neighborhood reclaim vacant places." Check out the work by Mengzhen Xu, Yiwen Jiang, Yizhen Wang, Lu Yu, and Jingwen He on Instagram.

Creating through Crisis: Mee Jey, MFA19

In this video and interview on, alum Mee Jey (MFA19) discusses her art practice, including the importance of art that engages with the community, her experience as an immigrant in St. Louis, and how she is using art to explore and document the current pandemic. “I am forcing myself every day to come up with a new idea about the same panic, the stress, the crisis, the limited resources that are imposing on us. It’s about how you can look at something in a different way,” Jey says. She also discussed her daily portrait series on St. Louis Public Radio's Cut & Paste podcast.

Sam Fox School Donates PPE

The Sam Fox School donated personal protective equipment (PPE) from its labs and shops to the University's School of Medicine as part of the environmental health and safety collection drive. For more information about PPE donation efforts in the St. Louis area, check out this story from St. Louis Public Radio.

Architectural Research to Address COVID-19

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 outbreak, a group of researchers led by Hongxi Yin, the InCEES associate professor in advanced building systems and architectural design in the Sam Fox School, is exploring whether using portable furnaces to sterilize contaminated building exhaust might help to stem the contagion. You can read about Yin's research in this story, as well as in coverage from Fast Company, Chinese Global Television Network, Architecture and Design, Health Management, and Archinect.




Welcome back from

(posted 3-24-2020; view on Instagram) Welcome back from the extended spring break! Good luck to all of the faculty, staff and students on their first week of virtual learning. Our very own @washuaias has captured some of the student workspaces for our new digital ways! #samfoxschool. #wustl_official

A Message from @samfoxschool: We're In This Together!

(posted 3-17-2020; view on Instagram or Facebook To our beloved Sam Fox School and WashU community: We know how rough these last few days have been. And, we know that this is not the only challenge many of you are facing in this moment. Spring is our favorite time of year—we emerge from our coats and the cold and the gray to find ourselves awash in the green and the new. Normally at this time, we’d be welcoming newly admitted students and their families for campus visits. We’d see the results of years of hard work in our students’ end-of-year exhibitions at the Des Lee Gallery, in Steinberg, Givens, and Bixby, and at the Kemper Art Museum. And, we’d seriously be celebrating every colorful, blooming thing emerging from the earth. This year, we must do everything from afar. It is not the same. It will not be easy. We miss your camaraderie and your chaos. But this is only temporary. And, we will learn to do many new things together this spring, some of which we would have never learned otherwise.

In the coming weeks, we will look forward to sharing many new things with you here: new student and faculty work, new interviews and virtual tours, new ways of staying connected from our distant, scattered outposts (and, of course, some new stories from Sam, the Sam Fox fox, on Instagram!).

We will be here for you in every way we can be, and we know that you will be here for each other. Important resources are available for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors on our website. We appreciate your kindness and your courage. Onward!

Image: Peter Aaron/OTTO