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October, 2019

Ethical and Responsible Architecture:
As It Grows, School Adopts Stewardship Mission

By Catherine Lee

Three of the four new architecture professors: Raj Barr-Kumar, Hazel Edwards
and Christopher Grech.

CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning has adopted a new mission statement that will guide its training of architects as "enlightened stewards and engaged citizens" at a time of increasing concern about architecture’s influence on the environment and quality of life.

To help support this newly enunciated stewardship mission and to address rising enrollment, the architecture and planning school has created and filled four new faculty positions. The new professors will help bolster classroom instruction at a time when the school's enrollment has increased 32 percent in the past four years, from 325 students to 440 this fall.

The mission statement — endorsed Aug. 20 during a faculty retreat — notes that the school seeks to educate "future architects and designers to be engaged and active citizens in their communities and the world at large," in accordance with Catholic University's mission to be a steward of creation, with a focus on service to the Church and to the nation.

As part of the mission the school will emphasize environmental stewardship, in keeping with the views of Pope John Paul II, who said, "How can accelerated development be prevented from turning against man? How can one prevent disasters that destroy the environment and threaten all forms of life, and how can the negative consequences that have already occurred be remediated?"

A faculty committee worked on the statement for more than a year, according to Randall Ott, dean of the school. The committee looked at the school’s existing strengths and its long history of emphasizing sustainability and social conscience in its teaching.

Ott says that the architecture and planning school’s existing programs in real estate development, sacred architecture, urban design, green architecture and other areas already have strong components of stewardship as part of their curricula.

CUAdc — the school's design collaborative that offers free design services to nonprofit groups — has functioned as a steward of the community, providing assistance to D.C. public school libraries and other institutions in the Washington, D.C., area, he says.

"Stewardship is not just about slapping up solar panels," Ott explains. "It’s about urban design that makes sense in terms of equity in housing, sustainability and smart growth. How much can you do with the resources and finances you have? How can we design using as small a footprint as possible, impacting the environment as little as possible?"

The four professors filling new positions at the architecture and planning school bring expertise in a range of areas related to stewardship:

  • Raj Barr-Kumar, the author of a seminal book, Green Architecture: Strategies for Sustainable Design, has been hired as an associate professor after serving as a CUA visiting lecturer since 2003. His expertise is in environmental systems, such as heating, air conditioning, lighting, acoustics and water systems, and sustainable design. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the International Interior Design Association. Internationally known for his environmentally sensitive designs, he has been recognized with honorary fellowships in the national architectural organizations of Japan, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and in the Pan American Federation of Architects. He earned his doctorate in architecture at the University of Hawaii.

  • Hazel Edwards, associate professor, whose research interests include urban design, planning history, site planning and enhancing quality of life through architectural design, has taught at the Morgan State University Institute of Architecture and Planning since 1999. She has worked closely with community groups in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area to provide technical planning and design assistance focused on the impacts of drug activity and deterioration in their neighborhoods. She also assisted residents in either understanding impending development or in creating their own community vision. Edwards earned a Ph.D. in regional planning at the University of Illinois.

  • Christopher Grech, associate professor, an expert in sustainability and design, has taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s College of Architecture since 2001. Prior to that, he taught at the University of Michigan. Registered as an architect in the United Kingdom, Grech worked 10 years in leading architectural and engineering practices in London. He has co-written two books on construction technology and edited a multilingual dictionary of architectural terms. Grech holds the British equivalent of an M.Arch. from the University of Liverpool School of Architecture.

  • Temple Washington, associate professor of practice, has taught at CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning as an instructor. His expertise includes a range of residential, commercial and institutional design; project financing; master planning and urban design. The founding principal of WHA Architecture and Planning, P.C., of Arlington, Va., Washington brings 26 years of experience in projects that include pedestrian-scaled, mixed-use downtown and transit-oriented development. He also has worked extensively with communities to reach consensus when a project involves a variety of possible housing types. He earned an M. Arch. at Virginia Tech University.
Along with welcoming new faculty, the architecture and planning school is gearing up to host a conference titled "Assuming Responsibility: The Architecture of Stewardship," which will examine the role of architects/designers as stewards and citizens of the Earth. The event — the Fall 2007 Southeast Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture — will take place Oct. 11 through 13 at the Crough Center. CUA Assistant Professor Luis Eduardo Boza and Assistant Dean Michelle Rinehart are serving as conference co-chairs.

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    Last Revised 24-Aug-07 04:13 PM.