March 28, 2011

Conference will draw 200 architecture students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Approximately 200 architecture students from throughout the Midwest will converge on Southern Illinois University Carbondale later this week for a series of conferences and workshops designed to enhance their education.

The undergraduate students will also hear from a leading international architect and learn about the University’s master-level offerings within the School of Architecture. The Spring 2011 Midwest Quad Conference will also provide students with networking opportunities and insight into their future careers. The conference, “No Boundaries, No Limits: Exploring the Art of Architecture,” is Friday and Saturday, April 1-2.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the lectures and workshops associated with the Midwest Spring Quad 2011 conference. A rundown of conference events is available at For more information on the April 1 lecture featuring architect Jan Willem van Kuilenburg, contact Peter B. Smith, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, at 314/749-7383, or by email at For information or to arrange interviews associated with the workshops, contact Miranda A. Brunner at

“This gives us an opportunity to showcase what we do here in the School of Architecture and in the architecture program,” said Walter V. Wendler, professor and director of the school. “We are bringing committed students from many schools of architecture and they are talking about their futures. That is incredibly important.”

The SIUC chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), a registered student organization, earned the bid to host the annual conference, said Miranda A. Brunner, a senior in architectural studies from Oreana.

Students from schools in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin will attend, Brunner said. She will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in architectural studies and minors in business administration and marketing. She plans to attend graduate school and then work to become a licensed architect.

“Our main goal from the beginning has been to find ways that we can showcase our program and the University,” said Brunner, who is the AIAS secretary and QUAD conference planning chair. “We want to try to get students to come here for graduate school. With the architecture department just becoming accredited it’s a perfect time to help them out and market what we have. What better way than to bring them to the University for the Quad conference?”

Most of the events are limited to students attending the conference. But the lecture, “Embedded Architecture,” by Jan Willem van Kuilenburg, is open to the public and admission is free. The lecture -- part of the Fine Arts Lecture Series -- is at 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 1, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. Van Kuilenburg is a partner and founder of Monolab, a practice for advanced design-based research in urbanism and architecture in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Peter B. Smith, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, said van Kuilenburg will discuss five architectural concepts and bring examples from 10 different projects, including the proposed Rotterdam City Tower. The advantage to students of interacting with an international architect is the exposure to global views, Smith said.

In the Netherlands, for example, sustainability, including buildings creating their own energy rather than relying on a power grid, changes how architects think during a project’s design. Rather than focusing solely on building design, incorporating other components including landscaping design and building accessibility is also important, Smith said.

Following van Kuilenburg’s lecture, an art and design showcase featuring the works of SIUC students and faculty will be on display from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Student Center’s ballrooms. This event begins the series of private events for conference participants.

Saturday’s events include a variety of workshops. Most of the workshops will be in Quigley Hall, with some in the Student Center Craft Shop, and a glass blowing demonstration in the Pulliam Hall-Industrial Wing. The workshops, some which provide hands-on opportunities, include graphic presentation, diagramming, architectural photography, origami, sculpture, and glass bead making.

On Saturday evening, the keynote speaker for the event at Von Jakob Winery is St. Louis-based artist Jill Downen, a 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. Downen’s work focuses on architecture and the human body.

The architecture program last year earned formal accreditation with the National Architectural Accrediting Board, which means those who graduate with a master’s degree from the program can, after completing an internship lasting between two and three years, sit for the architect licensing exam. There are only about 120 institutions in the United States offering the professional architectural degree, a requirement for accreditation.

SIUC’s AIAS chapter has among the highest ratio of students enrolled of any chapter in the United States, Wendler said. The high ratio means students “are interested in professional practice, the governance of professional practice and professionalism within the discipline of architecture,” he said.