So the official department head search is over, and yesterday began the process of interviewing potential candidates who have been chosen during the last few months.
I was chosen to attend these informal breakfast meetings with each candidate as they visit the school, and the first one was this morning with Mark Wamble
. I must say, his reputation precedes him. He is an absolutely fascinating guy, and also a graduate of the environmental design program at Texas A&M.
From just a few stories I heard today, this guy apparently graduated in 1983 with a BED degree, and just moved to New York City with no prospect of getting a job, and showed up on Peter Eisenman's doorstep. Through some bizarre chain of events, he became some sort of project manager on the Wexner Center in Eisenman's office, and later went on to attend the Harvard GSD and did a stint at Cambridge where he wrote a book.
Anyways, he's a really phenomenal guy, and seems like he has an interesting approach to the idea of the department head position. However, the obvious criticism against him is that he wants to keep his private practice in Houston, Interloop A/D
, teach studio, and be department head all at once. Many people are talking up a storm about this whole idea of how much time he could really devote to any one thing when tackling so much at once. I say more power to him. He already teaches studio at Rice while maintaining his firm, and he's won plenty of respectable awards and competitions to boot.
But until I meet the other candidates I can't say one way or the other. Some of his talking points at the breakfast and at his lecture this morning really sparked my interest, especially the comments that can be summed up as follows:
-Just because A&M's school colors are maroon and white, doesn't mean every document
that the department produces has to bear those colors. (translation: our school website sucks)
-He turned down a position at UCLA as department head because of these "student blogs" that were starting some kind of gossip revolution in an attempt to have certain faculty members fired. He said there was so much animosity between the students and faculty there that was made so evident by these student web publications that it was obviously not the place for him. Why do I care about this? Well, if I had to pick just one reason it would be the fact that he even knows what a blog is. Our entire IT staff for the largest college of architecture in the world, mind you... didn't even know what a blog was until last week when I requested to have some permanent web space set up to host my students' blogs, which as a result have to be hosted on blgger.com. to check them out go to http://dave.showviz.net/172
and find the "blogroll" category on the right hand side (let me know what you think).
I got off topic for a bit there, but anyways, other talking points included establishing a the ability to think and design in 3 dimensions early on in the undergraduate curriculum, and to stress the importance of computational means for producing products. e.g. CNC, 3d printing, laser and water jet cutting, etc...
To make a long story short, Mark Wamble is quite an interesting guy with a unique background that might work well for our school, but I'll have to wait and see how the others make out. Now that I've gone through one breakfast, I'll be ready and willing to grill the next candidate on Tuesday.
I'm really interested in the process other schools take when performing an official "search" for either a professor or a department head or anything to that effect. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading,
p.s. the image at the top of the post is from the Rowlett Lecture by Peter Beck and company. It was called "Tearing down the Silos," referring to the idea of integration across disciplines such as Construction, Engineering and Architecture. It was really a fascinating lecture, and at the end they did a nice demonstration of ways in which they use technology such as Revit and Timberline and DProfiler to do realtime cost estimating and project management throughout the process of a design-build project. Really good stuff.