Dean's Letter: Spring 2010

Dean's Letter, Spring 2010
College of Architecture
Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design


Graduate students: 241
Undergraduate students: 181
TOTAL: 422

MUD students (in studio): 19
Students abroad: 18

Tenured and tenure track faculty: 20
Visiting faculty: 7
Affiliate faculty: 51

Faculty emeritus: 7
Staff: 6

Studio sections: 33
Courses: 35

"Ours Is A Global Age"

The Kenya national library has grown to consist of 23 library branches, eight bookmobiles, and two camel mobile units. In each unit three camels are used to transport 300 books, a tent, and floor mats for setting up a temporary library branch…[A Living Library] "A Library is a very specific sort of building. A building where you collectively do something individual," states Wiel Arets. Mr Arets will join us this semester as the Ruth & Norman Moore visiting professor. He will lead a graduate studio taught with Ruth & Norman Moore Professor Robert McCarter and direct a series of discussions engaging current architectural issues with students, faculty, and professionals.

"What were you thinking?.. How would you build it?"

We are excited to welcome alums Jared Della Valla and Andy Bernheimer as visiting professors. Principals in the New York City firm of Della Valle Bernheimer which began in 1996, the firm is an award winning practice working across a wide range of scales and programs. They were selected as an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York in 2007. Their renovation and restoration of Paul Rudolph’s house in New York won an honor award from the city chapter of the AIA. Their approach to the modernist icon was to renovate it as if Paul Rudolph were doing it himself today.

Paul Lukez of Paul Lukez architects of Boston returns this semester and will be leading an Urban Design studio focusing on projects in Boston and Nanjing China, drawing on research from his book Suburban Transformations. Other new faculty include Andreas Kultermann, who will teach a course in the history of Meso-American architecture, Andrew Cruse, formally of Machado Silvetti architects in Boston, will teach degree project and a seminar in systems integration. Valerie Greer of HOK returns and will teach an undergraduate option studio. In addition 18 students will travel to Helsinki for the semester to study with Professor Peter MacKeith, and professors Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen, Kimmo Friman, Juhani Pallasmaa, and others.

The Arch remains stationary, but the years revolve; there is always movement among the clouds and strength or weakness to the sun; rains run clear as a mountain stream down its stainless legs, while onlookers, dizzy-eyed, explore their own awe. Perhaps, for a moment, the visitor will wonder why this, of all things…this should exist here: a kind of continuing miracle, a ding an sich…

                                            —William Gass

On October 28, 1965, the final section of the arch was lowered into place completing the construction which had begun on February 12, 1963. The keystone contains signatures of 720,000 St. Louis students. Standing 630 feet tall the winning entry from the 1947 design competition was begun after designer Eero Saarinenn's death in 1961. The design for the arch was one of 172 competition entries from local, regional, and international architects including a submission by Eugene J. Mackey and Joseph Murphy. Murphy then Dean of the School Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis and Mackey, a member of the faculty went on to form the firm of Murphy and Mackey where George E. Kassebaum worked before joining George Hellmuth and Gyo Obata in the founding of HOK. George Hellmuth graduated from the School of Architecture at Washington University in 1928 and in 1930 won the prestigious Steedman Fellowship international design competition sponsored by the school through a generous endowment in honor of James Harrison Steedman. The biennial competition was first held in 1925. Ken Wischmeyer, uncle of current faculty member Bill Wischmeyer, won the Steedman in 1931 and reportedly bought George Hellmuth's motorcycle to use for the travel part of the fellowship. Bill won the Steedman Fellowship in 1973 and Gene Mackey III, son of Eugene J. Mackey, won it in 1966 having to return early from his travels to attend his father's funeral.

After Saarinen's design was chosen the arch took nearly 15 years to begin construction due to a lack of funding from the federal government. Dean of the School of Architecture Joseph Passonneau and Eugene J. Mackey were Instrumental in the lobbying during the late 1950s which lead to the approval of the funding. Charles Hansen, an alum who was a student at the time said that they often slept in train stations given the strains of travel from St. Louis to Washington D.C.

In December of 2009 an international design competition titled Framing A Modern Masterpiece The City + The Arch + The River 2015 was launched. The competition web site states, "For the first time in a half century, the National Park Service is revisiting one of the world's most iconic monuments – The Gateway Arch – to integrate the magnificent memorial and its grounds with St. Louis, the Mississippi River and Illinois on the other side. They've announced a new international design competition, calling on the world’s best designers and architects." The competition is a partnership between the National Parks Service, the city of St. Louis and a sponsoring steering committee which I am proud to be a part of. A jury will choose a winning entry by Sept. 2010 with the selected project expected to be complete by October 28, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the setting of the arch keystone.

This year the Steedman Fellowship competition will parallel the arch grounds competition where architects with no more than 8 years from graduation will contribute their ideas to the evolution of this important part of the city. Alex Krieger, urban designer and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard, has written the competition brief, is chairing the Steedman competition jury, and joins faculty members Gia Daskalakis and Bill Wischmeyer as organizers. Krieger is also a member of the Arch Grounds Competition jury. The winning Steedman entry will receive a $30,000 travel fellowship and will be announced May 3, 2010.

As the tourist lady I overheard in front of the Gateway said to her friend, her face raised to the smile of the sky: "My goodness, it takes a long way to get where it's going, doesn't it." I wanted to reply: "Before it has begun, it has already arrived." But then I remembered: I had expressed that thought on another occasion—about the Mississippi. William Gass

Cities usually change slowly but sometimes they take leaps forward before your eyes. Such was the case when the Arch was completed. Watch out for what happens next.

Bruce Lindsey