School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

Stephen Lee John Folan

School of Architecture’s Lee and Folan Among DesignIntelligence’s 30 Most Admired Educators

DesignIntelligence has named both Head of School Steve Lee and T. David Fitz-Gibbon Associate Professor John Folan among its "30 Most Admired Educators" for 2015. To celebrate excellence in design education, DesignIntelligence annually identifies 30 exemplary design educators, based on the recommendations of thousands of design professionals, academic administrators and students. Honorees were lauded in the publication's November/December 2014 issue.

DesignIntelligence describes Head of School Steve Lee as "a progressive, flexible thinker with a passion for education and a vision for Carnegie Mellon's architecture program. He has already initiated significant change for the school and is building a curriculum that is innovative yet practical. He views architecture as problem-solving, and is focused on connecting student education with the future needs of the profession." Head of School since 2009, Lee began teaching in the School of Architecture in 1981. His practice and teaching focus on issues of systems integration, material innovation, renewable energy and the integrated design process for high-performance commercial and residential architecture.

As Head, Lee has worked to make the School of Architecture more nimble, dynamic, and responsive to a rapidly changing profession. Toward this end, he has instituted a new undergraduate curriculum combining rigor with flexibility, initiated expansion of the school’s digital fabrication facilities, doubled the size of the graduate program, created an endowed lecture series and endowed faculty positions, and spearheaded interdisciplinary research and learning with units across campus. Under his leadership, the next generation of CMU-educated architects will employ both deep disciplinary expertise and the agility to solve an ever-broadening range of problems.

Of Folan, DesignIntelligence says, "John Folan is praised for his no-nonsense method of teaching. A rigorous instructor, he teaches the profession rather than a focus on architecture. He brings real-world experience and real aspects of the industry into his studio, which his students appreciate. Inspiring and hard-working, he motivates his students to go after their future and beat the odds." Folan joined CMU’s faculty in 2009 and is director of the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS), where he draws on his wealth of industry experience to help his students develop regionally-specific, appropriate and affordable urban architectural interventions for traditionally under-served communities in Allegheny County.

For each UDBS project Folan assembles a variety of academic, community, government, and funding organizations with his passion for the participatory design process. He entrusts his students with real projects that expose them to design development, client interaction, construction document production, construction administration, and hands-on construction. Folan works tirelessly to empower local communities and prepare his students for successful careers in architectural practice.

In addition to honoring excellent educators, the DesignIntelligence report ranks architecture and design schools through surveys of students, administrators, and professional practice organizations. In the 2015 report the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture’s undergraduate architecture program was ranked 11th in the nation as well as fifth in the east, sixth in computer applications, and sixth in sustainable design practices and principles.

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