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College of Architecture, Planning and Design

Message From the Dean

"I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do.....so I'll leave it up to you."
Alvin Lee, Ten Years After, 1971

Dean de Noble speaking to students

Indeed, our world has changed. And in many ways for the better, particularly when the majority of us recognize the ramifications of our environmental actions and are committed to changing our behavior to mitigate our negative impact on the interrelated systems of our planet. In parallel, we now live in a world where all but a few realize the life-changing enrichment inherent in respecting our diverse and multi-cultural heritage. Both of these issues, sustainability and diversity, have a profound impact on the design professions and, by extension, on the way in which we educate.

The focus on sustainability has fostered a collective, holistic mentality once seemingly held only by select researchers and science-fiction writers. Realizing the impact construction and production has on the environment, and the interconnectedness of our actions, forces us to confront the status quo of design education and research.  Professional design education can no longer survive or thrive as individually focused divisions, but must embrace multi and interdisciplinary collaboration in line with the holistic metrics of environmental sustainability and social responsibility while preparing students for a trajectory of community leadership.

It is no longer enough for us to educate students in preparation for an industry serving a select strata of clients with the means to access their services. Design is a necessity, not a luxury afforded to a few and as such its transformative impact must be made available to, and aimed at, a greater range of our citizenry. Just as the oft-overlooked vernacular buildings of our agrarian heritage resound with dignity imbedded in their response to use, site, and materials, we recognize the dignity in addressing the design of the everyday. Our cities cause us to marvel at the 'background' buildings defining superb, lively public spaces. While we may revere the noteworthy artifacts of great cultures, we are in awe of this selfless architecture of anonymity. As professionals, our graduates should be equally prepared and excited to pursue careers aimed at expanding the periphery of practice, achieving distinction not only for projects of propriety and aesthetic merit, but of social circumstance.

In this vein we are motivated to build on the traditional strengths of our college while finding innovative ways for students of each of the allied disciplines the opportunity to engage in collaborative research and design. We will promote the transforming potential of design and design-oriented research as necessary endeavors in a society dedicated to environmental stability and diversity, through renewed dedication to our land-grant mission; educating students while conducting research and disseminating knowledge aimed at the issues confronting our society. In so doing we aspire to much more than merely preparing our charges with the base competencies necessary to negotiate traditional models of practice, but to instill in them a desire for inventive application of knowledge in expanding the boundaries of design practice.

Just as we are dedicated to fostering an academic environment of collaboration, we need to address the quality of our physical situation. Seaton Hall is a wonderful, well situated, and historic home to the college, in need of renovation and rejuvenation through remodeling and addition, in order that our educational home reflects our commitment to, and belief in, the inspiring potential of design. This is a superb opportunity for us to show the potential of innovation in transforming an historic building into an environmentally sensitive and technically innovative 21st century academic teaching/learning environment.

These difficult economic times cause us to reflect on our limitations as well as our potential. Paradoxically this is an opportune period to build upon our strengths and invest in our future, even as others retrench. We invite all of our alumni and friends to recommit to the College of Architecture, Planning & Design through engagement in helping us identify effective routes of design excellence and service-learning, while renewing your financial stewardship in helping us maintain our high quality and expand our leadership example in the design disciplines.

In closing, I am honored to be your dean, to be a part of the rich tradition of the college, and to be a member of a truly special community.

Sincerely,

 

Tim de Noble, AIA
Professor and Dean