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K-State Today

March 4, 2013



A national first: Coates, Ornelas earn Distinguished Professor awards from architecture education association

By Communications and Marketing

Kansas State University has become the first university in the nation to have two faculty members earn the prestigious Distinguished Professor award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, or ACSA, in the same year.

Gary Coates and Wendy Ornelas, both professors of architecture in the university's College of Architecture, Planning and Design, have been named 2012-2013 Distinguished Professors by the association. The award is given to only four individuals each year. It recognizes sustained creative achievement in the advancement of architectural education through teaching, design, scholarship, research or service. 

Coates and Ornelas will receive the awards at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture's annual meeting March 22 in San Francisco.

Ornelas, who is also an associate dean in the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, has been at Kansas State University since 1989. She has received numerous teaching, design and mentoring awards, including the McElwee Faculty Teaching Award and the New Faculty Teaching Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and American Institute of Architecture Students. A fellow of the American Institute of Architects since 2005, Ornelas is director of its Central States Region.

Coates, who has been a member of the architecture faculty at Kansas State University since 1977, has been widely recognized for excellence in teaching. In 2000 he received a Commerce Bank Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence. In 2002 received the American Institute of Architects Education Honor Award for acommunity-based design studio. In 2007 the university gave him a Professorial Performance Award for sustained excellence in teaching, research and service.

"While it is unheard of for two professors from the same program to be recognized by the ACSA with this award in the same year, it comes as no surprise to those of us in the college who have witnessed firsthand the dedication and commitment to the our students by professors Coates and Ornelas," said Tim de Noble, dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design.

"Among their many involvements and commitments in teaching, research and service, Professor Coates has long been on the forefront of sustainable practices in design, while Professor Ornelas has guided our students to and through meaningful internship experiences throughout the nation and world," de Noble said. "Their recognition is evidence, not only of their excellence, but also of the fact that the ACSA realizes the profound significance of design on environmental stewardship and internship as a potent fusion of the academy with professional practice."

Over the course of his long academic career, Coates has been focused on the question of how to create a sustainable society based on the design of bio-climatically adapted and culturally situated architectures of place that work ecologically, socially and humanly. His numerous community-based design studios have, in a number of cases, resulted in design/build projects that explore the latest in sustainable design. Coates has been a keynote speaker, lecturer and workshop leader at more than 100 conferences in the United States, Scandinavia and Europe. His numerous publications, which include six books, 16 book chapters, nearly a dozen research monographs and more than 60 articles in professional and scholarly journals, present a comprehensive vision of both the theory and practice of sustainable design. His books have earned honors. "Resettling America: Energy, Ecology and Community" was nominated for the 1982 Transformational Book Award, while "Erik Asmussen, Architect," received the 1997 Svensk Bokkonst Awardgiven by the Royal Swedish Library.

In its award book for the Distinguished Professor honor, The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture said of Ornelas that she is "a salient and engaged voice, serving all aspects of the architectural community, from students and educators, to interns and emerging professionals, to accreditors and regulators. Ornelas brings thoughtful and considered opinions to the national dialogue that informs both the discipline and the practice of architecture. It is her integration of these activities plus engagement with the profession's collateral organizations -- the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Architecture Students, National Architectural Accrediting Board and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and their constituencies -- that ensures the architectural educator is heard in the national conversation."

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