At the Twin Cities Dean's meeting today, we heard about the status of the light-rail line down Washington Avenue, which will close to traffic on May 15, a day after our commencement, and remain closed until November 2012, with light-rail service not available until 2014. While that work will disrupt life on the Minneapolis campus for some time, closing several blocks of Washington Avenue to auto traffic and dramatically reducing the number of buses will increase pedestrian safety and lower noise and air pollution, showing how good design can improve the quality of people's lives in profound ways. You can find more information about this at http://lightrail.umn.edu/.
On the subject of campuses, I serve on a committee at the Walker Art Center, which has brought in the British architect, David Adjaye, and the Dutch designer, Petra Blaisse, to make recommendations on how to complete the Walker's campus. The collaboration of Adjaye and Blaisse show how much boundary crossing has become a fact of professional life. Blaisse regularly crosses disciplinary boundaries, working as a textile designer, interior designer, and landscape architect, while Adjaye constantly crosses cultural boundaries as a Ghana native living and working in England, with offices in Berlin and New York.
These two campus projects reveal the changing nature of 21st century practice, which has become more collaborative, interdisciplinary, and sustainability oriented than ever before. And they offer a road map for colleges like ours. The more we can teach collaboration skills, seek interdisciplinary opportunities, and emphasize sustainability strategies, the better prepared our students will be for the work world.