Matthew R. Thompson

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University of Minnesota - B.Arch '72

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?

See the individual building design task as a neighborhood design problem. Ask yourself why some things work better than others. Why do some places steal our hearts? Can we capture that essence in what we design.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?

Leonard Parker. I always respected him as an architect and teacher and he was great to argue with - I always learned something. Years later, I would look at a design I was working on and think "Parker would hate this" and know it still needed work.

What is your favorite memory from your studio days?

Learning that you did C work if you worked at home and A work if you spent your time in the Studio. We modelled Thacher and Thompson Architects on the 12 person studio system. We called our bi-weekly office critiques and training sessions "studio chats."

Please identify one (or more) memorable design project that you worked on while a student at the School of Architecture.

My thesis project- an urban design plan and mixed-use building for Seven Corners. The corner has changed beyond recognition in the last 40 years.

What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?

The late '60s was a time when many of us were also 'urban homesteaders.' We moved into condemned buildings and forgotten neighborhoods, and started to create neighborhood places by restoring buildings and cleaning up corners of the city that others had written off. We found our laboratory for learning urbanism in the field. And, we learned we could build stuff, even if we didn't always have someone's permission.

Cite an example (be specific) that illustrates how you used the education you received at the School of Architecture to positively impact (or better) your community, city, nation or the world.

A team project in a studio at the School of Architecture may be the best way to learn the leadership skills required for large, multi-team member projects. I draw from those experiences as a leader on non-profit boards and civic commissions. I don't know of any other discipline that teaches leadership and teamwork as explicitly as the School of Architecture does.

Sheldon Wolfe

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University of Minnesota - B.S. Independent Studies '74, B.Arch '75

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?

Design is more important than constructability; form has no relationship to function.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?

Dick Morrill. A great, down-to-earth guy, with a realistic view of what architects do.
Gunther Dittmar. Similar to Dick Morrill.

A couple others, who will remain nameless, were excellent examples of why the public often perceives architects as arrogant.

What is your favorite memory from your studio days?

Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis" echoing through the empty atrium at 3 a.m.
Please identify one (or more) memorable design project that you worked on while a student at the School of Architecture.
West Bank medical clinic and the West Bank plaza information center.
What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?
Ladislav Cerny, who did his best to show the importance of structure.

Cite an example (be specific) that illustrates how you used the education you received at the School of Architecture to positively impact (or better) your community, city, nation or the world.

I have written many articles about the lack of practical education in architecture schools, in the hope that architects will learn more about materials and construction. Today's architect no longer deserves that title, as it means "master builder." They may be master planners, or master designers, or master coordinators, but little of the builder remains.

Eric J. Utne

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University of Minnesota - BED '72

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?

Not to be intimidated by critics.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?

Ralph Rapson, because he encouraged me.
Tom Bender, because he taught me the Chinese concept of Feng Shui, the Japanese concept of space called "Ma," and Buddhist economics.
Thomas Hodne, because he brought me to the '87 and '91 World Series.
Harrison Fraker, because I think he helped me get my degree retroactively.
Leonard Parker, because he told me ten years after graduation that I was "one of the best designers the U of M ever had."

What is your favorite memory from your studio days?

Sixty-hour charrettes, ending with the ambulance in the loading dock outside the jury room, waiting to scoop up and whisk off students who fainted and collapsed in the middle of final presentations.

Please identify one (or more) memorable design project that you worked on while a student at the School of Architecture.

The City-block square amusement park and natural history museum whose multi-story circulation was based on the game "Shoots & Ladders," i.e. slippery slides.
What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?
Bucky Fuller and Tom Bender. Later, after college, Christopher Alexander.

Cite an example (be specific) that illustrates how you used the education you received at the School of Architecture to positively impact (or better) your community, city, nation or the world.

When I left the School of Architecture (the last time), I wrote a declaration of independence to my fellow students and faculty exclaiming that I needed to learn more about life before I could begin to design spaces for people to live in. The best design is that which has more life in it. I believe architects should be masters of all the arts and true cultural-change agents. They should know how to bring more life into any situation.

Alex M. Terzich

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University of Minnesota - B.Arch '01, M.Arch '03

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?

The benefit of testing ideas -- good and bad -- by drawing and modeling rather than just thinking.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?

Robert Adams, a studio instructor in my second year of the graduate program. He brought a unique vision to the studio, was passionate about the work of his students, and created a setting where anything was allowed as long as you cared about what you were doing.

Please identify one (or more) memorable design project that you worked on while a student at the School of Architecture.

After the Fall, Rebuilding the World Trade Center (Aaron Parker)
Terra-Electropolis, Iron Mine Visitors Center (Robert Adams)

What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?

The most influential for me were the architects and writers who saw geometry as a powerful force in architecture, such as Preston Scott Cohen, Robin Evans, Peter Eisenman, and Andrew Zago.

Frank L. Reese

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University of Minnesota - B.Arch '57

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?

I learned how to design buildings.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?

Professor Robert Bliss

What is your favorite memory from your studio days?

The bonding that takes place while solving design problems.

What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?

The history of architecture.

Cite an example (be specific) that illustrates how you used the education you received at the School of Architecture to positively impact (or better) your community, city, nation or the world.

Used my architectural training to the assist the Metro West United Methodist Church's builder's club to select sites for mission churches and to aid the new congregations in the area of design and financing.

Bruce Toman

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University of Minnesota - B.Arch '76

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?

Design quality in all aspects of architecture.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?

Ralph Rapson - his overall leadership, demand for quality of design, role model for his abilities- "The abstract beauty of the plan."
David Bennet - design
Thomas Hodne - context of building
Bruce Graham - make no small plans
Frank Gehry - great space, develop designs, collaborate with great thinkers
Rem Koolhaus - collaborate, importance of the program
Santiago Calatrava - do not be arrogant, design to program and budget not ego

What is your favorite memory from your studio days?

Teamwork, camaraderie

Please identify one (or more) memorable design project that you worked on while a student at the School of Architecture.

Student housing for the University.

What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?

The overall strength of the faculty, most of whom had their own practices and produced high quality work.

Cite an example (be specific) that illustrates how you used the education you received at the School of Architecture to positively impact (or better) your community, city, nation or the world.

I have become a technician, responsible for developing the design of others to construction. I have always attempted to develop well executed buildings which reflect quality and simplicity of design in all aspects.

Carolyn M. Dry

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University of Minnesota - B.Arch '70

Carleton College - B.A.Arch '64

Texas A and M - M.Arch '74

Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University - Ph.D Environmental Design and Planning '90

Barbara Lyons Stewart

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University of Minnesota - M.Arch '77

UW Madison -

Golden Gate School of Feng Shui -

Problem Solving within a specific time period (creating a concept, developing it, and implementing it)

This skill has helped me both professionally and personally in every area of my life - and was definitely a direct result of my UMN Architecture School studio courses.

My studio professor John Cunningham. I remember his saying that he brought his firm's receptionists and book-keepers into design presentation rehearsals to teach his design staff to eliminate "architect-speak", and to be able to describe design in a clear and logical way that resonated with non-design clients. His focus on the client's needs instead of the designer's ego remains a key part of my success in marketing and my practice.
Student Parties in the Atrium - I particularly remember a dramatic "Midnite at the Oasis" Party.
None - I've tried to block them out.
The UMN rendering styles were fabulous and it's sad that the unemotional perfection of CAD has replaced the individual expression and exuberance of hand-rendered presentation drawings.
UMN Architecture totally indoctrinated me into believing that our purpose as architects is to move architecture in new directions and "push the envelope." I specifically remember the Director of Design, Jim Stageberg, tell us at an opening assembly that "if anyone wants to design an Italian Villa or a Swiss Chalet, you should walk out that door right now." A few years later, I was attending parties at professor's houses and realized that they all lived in Victorian Houses around the Lakes in older neighborhoods, and talked about vacationing in Tuscany. THAT understanding caused me to question why 20-25 yr old Minnesota students (like ALL architecture students, I later learned) were pushing envelopes instead of trying to discover what appeals to people about Victorian Houses and Tuscany, and incorporate those qualities into our designs. Decades later, and I have developed 18 Instinct-Based Design Principles and am focused on helping design professionals and healthcare organizations incorporate principles from Nature in order to create places that will make people healthier and happier (back to Victorian Houses and Tuscany...)