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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Professor Wins Treanor Architect Faculty Award

“That’s a tough question,” said Professor Michael Gibson when asked what drew him to architecture. “There’s just all of these things that I’m interested in and they don’t really fit in any discipline except design.”

Using these traits, Gibson has employed engaged teaching, and K-State has taken notice. Gibson was awarded the new Treanor Architects Faculty Award for his fifth-year architecture studio entitled "Curtain Wall Studio: Innovation in Curtain Wall Assembly Systems." The studio focused on increasing the efficiency of the curtain wall system. This system is something Gibson said is common to commercial architecture, and is easy to take for granted.

In 2014, the studio was recognized by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and was presented the NCARB Award for the Integration of Practice and Education.

The studio differs from most in that it is hands-on. Gibson partnered with Manko Window Systems, who has been in the business for decades. Manko “was critical to the studio,” said Gibson. In the fall, the students toured the plant with Vice President of Manko, Kevin Dix. They witnessed an installation of a curtain wall, and saw the importance of innovation in architecture.

The collaboration benefited both the students and the company. “They’re [Manko] pushing incremental changes in how curtain walls are fabricated.” Gibson said. “[We’re] giving the students an opportunity to… push that process of innovation a little further.” The students also collaborated and received feedback from BNIM, a Kansas City-based architecture firm. Gibson said the firm “brought a lot of really good dialogue to the process.”

Gibson hopes that the students developed a new perspective on the process of architecture. “They’re [architects] trained to follow a creative process,” said Gibson. “The process we were following was much more of an experimental process that you would use in science or engineering. It was an important thing for the students to get exposed [to].”

Gibson found engaged teaching very rewarding. He described it as a learning experience, not just for the student, but for himself as well. “There were many times where I… had to learn with the students,” said Gibson. “The students probably left with more knowledge than I had.”

As he prepares to go into his ninth year of teaching, Gibson said he no longer fears moments like these. “It can be kind of rewarding,” said Gibson. “It’s an exciting moment when you don’t know something … It’s okay to have those knowledge gaps, it’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Gibson plans to continue this method of engaged teaching. “I would really like to repeat this type of project by creating new connections with different companies,” he said. “It’s good for the students to learn from as many people as possible.”

The students themselves found the project very rewarding. “They get really excited about sharing their ideas,” Gibson said. “It was definitely something that they owned.”