Whether or not we are conscious of the architecture we inhabit, it affects our lives every day. The quality of light in a room or its relation to nature can set our moods, our porches and sidewalks contribute to the life of our neighborhoods, and the proximity of stores, schools and parks establish communities. Unquestionably, the role that the built environment plays in how the world is perceived makes design a critical part of our lives. Such ideas are at the forefront of our discussions at Drury’s Hammons School of Architecture (HSA), illustrating one of the many ways our program is so distinctive.
We have come to describe some of the unique attributes and hallmarks of Drury University as “peaks of distinction.” These typically mark Drury’s academic landscape and serve as points of entry, platforms of study and exit paths for students as they launch careers and professional pursuits. The Hammons School of Architecture is such a peak and in no small manner, this is due to its mission, its founding principles and its setting in American architecture education. At the core of this peak is the fundamental association of Drury architecture studies with the liberal arts.
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Architecture has long been revered as a practical profession for creative types. Through the 20th century, architecture was a stable profession, but the field experienced challenges in the wake of the U.S. housing crisis. As such, we know that architecture reflects the shifting paradigms of the middle class in America. In a 2012 article for Salon.com, architect Guy Horton, feeling the declining economy’s sting, describes an education in architecture as, “the new English major.”
But similar to the apparent crisis in the humanities, there are plenty of options in the architecture field for those who know where to look for them. The Salon.com article clarifies their stance, stating that architecture will persevere: “It’s existed as a calling, in various forms, at least since the medieval master builder,” and that, “periods of tension sometimes produce fresher thinking.”
A 2011 article in the International Business Times points out that competition has historically led to evolutionary work such as the strong competition fueled by the Great Depression that spawned the Empire State Building, which was the world’s tallest in 1931. Today, the article says, there’s been a push in the environmental sector, which is inspiring architects to not only compete for aesthetic, but put more emphasis on efficiency. Amy Schellenbaum writes on the website The Verge that architecture is a social art, and that in recent years, “the field is changing in a way that prioritizes the fulfillment of the community over the fulfillment of the individual, the built over the philosophized, the rudimentary over the sophisticated.”
These shifts in the field will demand architects who can adapt quickly and reach innovative solutions. Because of Hammons School of Architecture’s integrated liberal arts and professional curriculum, its graduates are ready to face the changes in architecture with eyes wide open. Future architects who search for balance between passion and practicality tend to find it at Drury. This is why the liberal arts tradition endures at the Hammons School of Architecture and why students from all over the world continue to flock to it.
A person who is mentoring or guiding us may be in our lives for years, or just minutes. Then again, our mentors might not be people at all, but influential experiences. However we arrive at the conclusion that we’ve been mentored, it’s beneficial to reflect on who, or what, has guided us in the process. Meet a Drury student, alumna and faculty member who each benefited from very different types of mentors.
STUDENT: Zach Glossip recalls how an internship supervisor helped him grow in his confidence as a programmer in the professional world.
ALUMNA: Meg Myers Morgan, Ph.D. reflects on her time at Drury and how her college experience as a whole still serves as her guide.
FACULTY: Dr. Rick Maxson explains how he found a mentor during a chance meeting at a rock concert.
Drury’s architecture program represents a very different model for educating architects—one we think offers a better path toward leadership and successful practice. Since the founding of Drury’s architecture program 30 years ago, our emphasis has been on creativity, critical problem solving, community service and learning-by-doing. These approaches are supported by our unique setting—the Hammons School of Architecture is one of the only nationally accredited architecture programs to be housed in a small liberal arts university.
Like many industries, the field of architecture has seen an incredible amount of change thanks to advances in technology. While technology has been reshaping the way designers go about their work for decades now, new powerful tools are again pushing the profession to new heights. The Hammons School of Architecture (HSA) brings many of these platforms into the classroom and challenges students to broaden their thinking about design.
For Drury’s Hammons School of Architecture (HSA) students, resilience is at the forefront of their U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon project. Selected to participate in the 2015 event, Drury and its partner school Crowder College will compete against peers from 19 other colleges nationwide, including Yale, Stanford and Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The partnership between Drury and Crowder is a natural one. Many volunteers who raced to the scene when an EF5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri were from the Drury and Crowder communities. The tornado killed 161 people and proved to be the costliest tornado in U.S. history.
In the wake of this disaster, Drury and Crowder students decided this was their opportunity, as Dreiling states in her article about Hurricane Katrina, “to not only rebuild what was wiped away but rather build better…to build communities that would be more resistant to natural disasters.”
Dr. Shelley Wolbrink has been a history professor since 1998. She is also the director of the Medieval and Renaissance studies program, and has served as history department chair. She has traveled with Drury students to Greece, Egypt, Italy and Morocco. Wolbrink’s office reflects her voracious appetite for travel and passion for history.
Where Are They Now?
Bryan Pollard ’89 joined Drury’s newly formed architecture program in the 1980s. Pollard had a passion for art in high school but initially came to Drury as a business major.
He clearly recalls the day a casual conversation changed the course of his life.
“A Sigma Nu fraternity pledge brother and I were walking across Sunderland Field and he told me there was an architecture program on campus, headed up by Tom Parker of the Art Department,” Pollard says. “He said he was going to join, so I looked into it and jumped on it.”
These are, arguably, democratic impulses, pushing to reshape the built environment from below. But as key producers, architects, urban planners, and social scientists play a critical role in shaping a vision for what alternatively defined space could look like and how it will function. No doubt sensing the urgency, some are contributing to this crucial project here at Drury right now.