KSU Professor Earns $25,000 Award

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas State University College of Architecture, Planning & Design faculty member's proposal for a student-professional-industry collaboration on making buildings more energy efficient is one of three winners of a $25,000 award from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Recipients were selected for developing innovative curricula that merge practice and education.

Michael Gibson, assistant professor of architecture at the college, which is known as APDesign, received the award for his project proposal "Designing for Performance: Research and Innovation in Building Envelopes."

The project seeks to explore the relationship between research and practice by joining forces with leading manufacturers of building envelope systems, Gibson said.

"In a studio setting, students, aided by a team of practitioners, will use computer analysis and instrumented mock-ups to develop, test and integrate building skins that can reduce energy use," Gibson said. "By applying environmental and building physics knowledge to the design process, this course will tackle real-world problems associated with building performance. More importantly, the project reveals that architects have the capacity to become leaders in advancing sustainability."

The project will start in the 2014-2015 academic year with the creation of a yearlong research studio. Gibson has been leading a pilot of the research studio this semester with 12 architecture students. They have been studying how ventilated cladding can lower cooling costs in building and have been collaborating with the A. Zahner Co., a specialized cladding manufacturer based in Kansas City, Mo., and BNIM Architects, also of Kansas City, Mo., which was named in Gibson's grant proposal. In support of the proposal, Brian McKinney, an associate principal and other expert practitioners at BNIM have committed to collaborating on the research project through the next academic year, both on and off campus.

During the next academic year, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Award will support BNIM's involvement in the research studio as well as provide materials and equipment for the research, which is focused on computer simulation and physical prototyping used for empirical experiments. An outside manufacturer will be engaged as well, Gibson said.

"The intent of the award proposal was to build research infrastructure in the architecture department that will support continuing collaborative research between architectural practices, manufacturers and research studios using advanced methods to study issues crucial to architectural sustainability," he said.

Also receiving $25,000 awards were projects proposed by Florida Atlantic University's School of Architecture in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the art, architecture and art history department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Since 2001, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards has awarded more than $875,000 to schools for the projects integrating practice and education. To be eligible, schools must be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. More information on this year's recipients is available at http://www.ncarb.org/en/News-and-Events/News/2013/11-NCARBAward.aspx.

"The caliber of this year's proposals reflects the academy's commitment to innovation and addressing real-world scenarios," said Michael J. Armstrong, CEO of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. "The fact that two of the winning proposals involve partnerships with both practitioners and manufacturers demonstrates the truly collaborative nature of the architecture profession."

Gibson said his project's collaborative research model helped it stand out.

"This model puts together the knowledge strengths of architectural practitioners, engineers, manufacturers and the academy in an integrated effort at inquiry," he said. "The project involves the application of the latest technology, but its aspiration is really beyond technology. There is a tremendous need for buildings to deliver more using less energy in the immediate future, and the possible solutions to this problem are better solved by professionals, industry and universities working together."

Gibson also credits his students for inspiring him to develop the project proposal.

"This type of research pushes students to reach beyond their disciplinary knowledge and draw deeply from their critical-thinking abilities, their creativity and their technical knowledge," he said. "It is also very hard work with high expectations. And engaging outside collaborators from practice and industry makes clear research methods and communication imperative. All that said, it would be an unthinkable project without the very best students and I'm proud that we have some of the very best students in our program. It is a privilege to be able to bring an award like this to APDesign because they deserve it and it helps our students exercise their great aptitude."

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards' membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The council assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects. The council also protects the public health, safety and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects.