MacKeith receives national ACSA honor

Peter MacKeith, associate dean of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and associate professor of architecture, has received one of three national Creative Achievement Awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

The honor recognizes special achievement in teaching, design, scholarship, research or service that advances architectural education. An awards ceremony was held March 28 during the 2008 ACSA National Conference in Houston.

Peter MacKeith
Peter MacKeith

MacKeith received the award for the design studio “Lighthouses: Adventures on the Mississippi,” which he led (with teaching assistant Aaron Senne) in the spring of 2007 as part of the College of Architecture’s senior undergraduate advanced studio sequence. Over the past 10 years, MacKeith has taught a succession of “Lighthouse” studios — in the United States, Finland and Slovenia — all emphasizing issues such as the importance of site, the value of materials and tectonics, and the necessity of interdisciplinary thought and collaborative work.

For the Mississippi studio, 15 undergraduates studied the history and culture of the river from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including literature, environmental studies, political science, biology, art history and economics. Students also explored the life of the river itself — its agricultural and industrial character and the communities situated adjacent to it — and eventually proposed designs for a series of observation pavilions at major sites between St. Louis and New Orleans.

“If there is creative achievement in this design studio, it lies first and foremost with each of the individual students’ thought and work,” MacKeith said, “than with the collective character and productivity of the studio group as a whole.”

MacKeith came to the University in 1999 as assistant dean of architecture and was named associate dean of the Sam Fox School in 2004. In addition to organizing collaborative teaching and research, he currently oversees the Whitaker Foundation Learning Lab, a new media center. He previously directed the International Masters Program in architecture at the Helsinki Institute of Technology; taught at Yale University and the University of Virginia; and worked in professional practices in both the United States and Finland.

MacKeith has written and lectured extensively on contemporary Finnish architecture. He is author of “The Finland Pavilions: Finland at the Universal Expositions 1900-1992” (1993) and editor of “Encounters: Architectural Essays” (2005), a selection of essays by Juhani Pallasmaa. His analytical drawings of Alvar Aalto’s buildings were included in the 1998 retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In 2005, his essay “The Dissolving Corporation: Contemporary Architecture and Corporate Identity in Finland” was published by the Finnish Institute for Business and Policy Studies (EVA).

With Michael Repovich, lecturer in architecture, MacKeith recently received a one-year, $15,000 I-CARES grant for research on “Zero-Energy, High-Performance Building Standards,” a series of case studies in building design specifically directed at sustainable and net-zero energy campus building design. His essay about the new Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts buildings by architect Fumihiko Maki, “Designed Education,” will appear in an April 2008 special issue of Japan Architect.

The ACSA is a nonprofit membership association founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education. Members consist of all colleges and universities that offer accredited degree programs in architecture in the United States and Canada; candidate schools seeking accreditation; and affiliate membership for two-year and international programs and others ineligible for accreditation. Through these schools, more than 4,700 architectural faculty are represented.