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Archive for Saturday, August 10, 2002

Classrooms upgrade computers

August 10, 2002

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Shortly after graduating in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in architecture from Kansas University, Dave Parks was in Boston working for an architectural firm.

"I was working next to graduates from the big Ivy League schools," Parks said. "A degree from Kansas in architecture is very competitive and it helped me get that job. The school has a very good national reputation."

Now Parks is back at KU working on his master's degree.

How good and how competitive are the students in KU's School of Architecture and Urban Design? The average grade-point average of students entering the school this year is 3.8, associate dean Michael Swann said. Students enter the school as freshmen.

"We try to select people who are good with math," Swann said. "We've got people who are coming in from all over the country. This is a very competitive school."

Students will see improvements being made to the school's home, Marvin Hall. This summer saw the first of several upgrades. A new electrical transformer and electrical service feed were being installed.

"We're going to have a complete power upgrade," Swann said. "Students are going to have access individually to all of the computer system from anywhere inside the school."

Earlier this summer only four of the school's design studios were fully computer digitalized. That will increase to 20 computer digitalized studios plus four computer labs.

With desktop computers and drafting tables, students will have a full workstation.

Yes, drafting tables are still used in architecture.

"You still draw and you still build models," Swann said. "Sketching and drawing is just being integrated with computer work. Architects are still very much artists. They learn it that way, and they kind of cling to it."

School administrators hope facilities and equipment upgrades continue in the next several years. Dean John Gaunt is working with the KU First campaign committee to raise funds for more scholarships and studio and lab furnishings.

The big goal, however, is to eventually find funds for a new building that can be constructed next to Marvin Hall. Some of the school's most loyal graduates from the state are on a committee that will come up with ideas for raising funds, Swann said. The goal is $10 million.

"This is going to dominate the administrators of this school," Swann said.

Students in the School of Architecture have award-winning professors. Last year for the first time two professors from the school Dan Rockhill and Barry Newton received Kemper Awards for outstanding teaching.

Rockhill, who has been on sabbatical, returns this year. In the past he has been nationally noted for unique housing designs. Newton's classes include one that records measurements of historical structures, such as Kansas City, Mo.'s Union Station before it was renovated a few years ago.

At KU's Edwards campus in Overland Park, the School of Architecture offers a graduate program for those who have already been in architectural practice. It is designed to teach architectural management and how to run an architectural design business.

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