A little over three years ago, our Director George Thrush assembled a small group of architects, real estate developers, and allied members of the “innovation economy” in order to build a council that would act in an advisory capacity to the school. The focus of this Council was not to be fiduciary but rather it would provide insight from the field and assist with material support. This venture has resulted in a successful collaboration and the School has sought and acted on the Council’s advice on a number of matters that have also been addressed in faculty meetings. These include the focus on urban issues, sustainability, and market-driven, scalable solutions.
Recent additions to the council include: Gary Haney of SOM, who is also currently teaching a graduate studio on tall buildings; Sho-Ping Chin, Principal at Payette and leader of their healthcare practice; Gina Ford, Principal at Sasaki Associates and chair of the firm’s Urban Studio; and David Manfredi, Principal and founder at Elkus Manfredi Architecture. For the full list of members, click here.
Several faculty members have participated directly with council activities by sharing their research with the Council in order to give it a first hand connection with what faculty are interested in. Graduate students have made presentations to the Advisory Council to provide the council with a richer understanding of the type of research and projects that are being conducted at the Masters level. This exposure to the pedagogy and faculty work has better informed our Council Members of the school’s unique focus and strength, which helps empower them to provide relevant and insightful advice.
A specific example the impact of this process is the implementation of a new graduate studio, Innovations in Urban Healthcare, taught by Matthew Littell. A conversation at a Council meeting on how the School of Architecture could explore the University’s research mandate on Health led to an in-depth exploration of typologies related to new modes of healthcare delivery in light of the Affordable Care Act as well as development of the retail clinic at drug store chains such as CVS Minute Clinic. The combination of expertise, brainstorming and innovative thinking of the Advisory Council led to the school providing a tangible response to the research initiative of the university. It also resulted in a partnership with CVS to investigate opportunities at the intersection the program’s strengths in urban design, market-driven and scalable building types, and the move toward providing healthcare affordably in inner-city neighborhoods.
As the School continues to provide a relevant educational experience that prepares its students for the changing role of the architect and designer in today’s society, the Advisory Council will offer insight, innovation and support to help align the strengths and interests of the School and its faculty with the most pressing issues found in the market place.