Three USC Architecture Faculty Win ACSA Awards

School News

Three USC Architecture Faculty Win ACSA Awards

February 27, 2015

Professors Jim Steele, Kyle Konis, and Doris Sung have received 2015 Architectural Education Awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).


“The ACSA has recognized a wonderful cross-section of our faculty in various career stages and across disciplines, representing both USC Architecture’s strong tradition and innovative future,” said Dean Qingyun Ma.


Professor Jim Steele received the ACSA Distinguished Professor Award. Steele has taught history and theory of architecture and design studios at USC since 1991.

“In his 24 years as a USC faculty member, Jim’s impact on the School’s programs and curriculum has been profound,” remarked Dean Ma. The director of history-theory at the School, Steele also founded and directed the USC School of Architecture Summer Program in Asia, as well as the Summer Program in Brazil.


Reflecting recently on how the academic experience has evolved in the last three decades, Steele said, “The challenges of a life in Academia are steep, and seem to be getting steeper since the digital age has provided increasing access to information for students and teachers alike. This has revolutionized the educational experience, providing new research opportunities and methods of engaging all of those involved in the learning experience. And yet, many of the basic principles remain the same, involving the essential passing on of knowledge.”


Steele has authored and/or edited 50 books. His books have won numerous awards, including The International Architecture Book Award, an AIA International Book Award, and an INTERARCH Book Award.


“Validation at this level is especially gratifying, after having been engaged in this dialectical process for more than four decades, because it is too often very difficult to gauge one’s effectiveness on a day to day basis, while working within the highly competitive environment of a leading research university,” said Steele. “I am very grateful to have received it”.


Professor Kyle Konis received the ACSA/AIAS New Faculty Teaching Award, as well as the ACSA/AIA Housing Design Education Award. 


Konis has been an assistant professor at USC since 2012. His approach to teaching draws upon his dual experiences in architectural design and high performance building technology research. He challenges his students to experiment rather than relying on pre-determined “solutions.”


“Kyle is a great example of how a cross-disciplinary agenda, grounded in design inquiry, spurs innovation in teaching and research,” said Dean Ma.


Konis’s proposal for the Housing Design Education Award, “Incorporating Workforce Housing in the Sustainable Development Planning and Design of Urban Los Angeles,” documented a topic integrated into the final project of USC courses ARCH 419 (Sustainability in the Environment) and 519 (Architectural Sustainability Tools and Methods), which Konis teaches. The proposal, focusing on a redevelopment site in Los Angeles north of downtown and west of the LA River, addresses the need for workforce housing combined with transit and jobs as a basis for a comprehensive sustainable development proposal.


‘Addressing sustainability topics at both the building and at the district scale, I focus on developing student abilities to research, critically examine, and prioritize a broad range of knowledge addressing project and region-appropriate sustainable goals, rather than presenting them with imported “sustainable design strategies” or prescribed “best practices,”’ said Konis. “I am extremely excited to see these efforts materialize in the excellent student work being produced here at USC, which is what these two ACSA awards are recognizing."


Professor Doris Sung received a Faculty Design Honorable Mention for her eXo tower, a fastener-free, thermobimetal structure in which pieces are individually heated for assembly and lock into place when they cool. Sung’s research focuses on the application of “smart” thermobimetals that respond to changing temperatures.


“Doris’s work beautifully synthesizes technology and design and will change the way buildings are produced and perceived,” said Dean Ma.


"Receiving an ACSA Faculty Design Award for eXo is gratifying, given the short time frame from its inception to production,” said Sung. “Because the first prototype is the bottom tier of a 5-tier tower, I'm hoping this will validate the work to bring in more funding so that we can build the other four tiers."


Architect Magazine recognized eXo with its R+D Award last year, and Sung received a 2014 ACSA Faculty Design Award for her project, “Bloom.” Sung was also recently named a 2014 United Artists Fellow, one of two Architecture & Design fellows out of 34 artists.


Steele, Konis, and Sung will be honored at the ACSA Annual Meeting in Toronto in March.