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Architecture's City Focus Brings Accolades

November 24, 2009 2:15 AM
Carol J. Schlueter cjs@tulane.edu

More than four years after Hurricane Katrina, the Tulane School of Architecture continues to garner national attention for its community projects focused on the renewal of New Orleans, the latest coming in the school's ranking as one of the nation's "Hidden Gems of Architecture Education."

urban build

Tulane School of Architecture students work on the school's fourth URBANbuild home in New Orleans' Central City neighborhood. Students design and build the homes as part of class projects. (Photo by Emilie Taylor)

At the same time that the prestigious DesignIntelligence published the ranking, it also named the school's dean, Kenneth Schwartz, among its 25 "Most Admired Educators of 2010."

The ranking positions the Tulane school among five programs that are "doing incredible things, pushing the boundaries of education innovation, partnering with private firms in enterprising new ways and developing the next generation of design thought leaders," the publication says.

One of Tulane's premier programs, URBANbuild, is in the spotlight as well. The fourth URBANbuild home, designed and constructed by Tulane architecture students under the leadership of URBANbuild director Byron Mouton, is featured in a lengthy article in the December/January 2010 issue of Dwell magazine.

For Schwartz, the ranking underscores the dedication, creativity and hard work of the school's students and faculty, who are energizing a school that has provided traditionally strong architectural education for more than 100 years.

"Students and faculty have been extraordinarily effective in their partnerships with nonprofit organizations on projects ranging from individual design-build houses to farmers' markets and planning strategies for rebuilding neighborhoods," Schwartz says. "They embody the best qualities of civic engagement that are so important to Tulane University today and indeed for the community."

Now in his second year as dean at Tulane, Schwartz says that his academic career at the University of Virginia and what he calls "the Tulane bump" — "the challenge and opportunity of this amazing city and its recovery" — influenced his position on the list of admired architecture educators.

Schwartz says, "Coming here 1 1/2 years ago changes the equation. It was an opportunity to change venues and try to make a difference."