This past summer I was asked to assume the role of Interim Director.  I welcome this opportunity to view the school, the college and the university from this new perspective of leadership.  At the same time, I am humbled by the accomplishments of my predecessor, Dr. Peter Mortensen (now Interim Dean of our college).

I have taught at the school since 1989, and am well aware of the dedication and integrity of our faculty, our staff, and our students.  The school has been a positive place to teach, to learn, and from which to experience the myriad rituals of higher education and campus culture.  My goal as an educator, and now as an administrator, is to contribute to the creation of a safe and nurturing intellectual environment as we steer the school effectively through implementation of the new BSAS and M.Arch curricula.

The world shares my enthusiasm for the school.  According to hiring professionals surveyed by DesignIntelligence Quarterly, in 2016-17 the school’s Master of Architecture degree program ranks in the Top 25 nationally for producing graduates who are prepared “for success in the profession and designing a sustainable future.” The school’s DI ranking complements its place in the 2017 QS World University Rankings for programs in the architecture, released last spring. For a third year running in the QS rankings, Illinois placed in the top tier globally, placing fifth in the nation among public research universities.

And why not? We have exceptional students, who consistently win awards, such as those who dominated the 2016 AIA Chicago Award in Architecture student competition, taking three of four top prizes.  Then last December, two graduate students received awards out of the 250 Participants from 40 countries who submitted designs to the Laka Competition ’16: “Architecture that Reacts.”  More recently our students won two of four national awards in the 2017 Steel Design Competition sponsored by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. 

Exceptional students go on to become exceptional alumni as well, such as the five Illinois graduates elevated to AIA’s prestigious College of Fellows last spring.  Then there is alumna Dina Griffin, who will be partnering with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects to design the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.  She will also be lead architect of the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center on our campus. There is alumna Jeanne Gang, MacArthur Fellow and Louis Kahn Memorial Award winner, designer of the Chicago’s Aqua Tower, now continuing to transform Chicago’s skyline with her vision for the 93-story Vista Tower.  There is Vladimir Radutny, who was awarded the 2016 Dubin Family Young Architect Award by the AIA Chicago Foundation.  And distinguished alumna Carol Ross Barney,  who will receive AIA Chicago’s lifetime achievement award this October.

I hope this brief welcome conveys the sense of the energy, purpose, and respect that motivates everyone associated with the Illinois School of Architecture.  You can keep up to date with the School by checking out the latest news on our website, by following us on Facebook, and by reading our Alumni Newsletter. And please don’t hesitate to contact me directly about the School. I would like to hear your thinking about our efforts to ensure that an Illinois architecture degree continues to prepare the next generation of architects for the challenges they face in the profession—and the world.

Most Sincerely, 

Jeffery S. Poss, FAIA
Professor and Interim Director