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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
Kansas State University
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May 2, 2022

Jani earns 2022 Wayne Hunt McElwee Faculty Award

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Vibha Jani

Vibhavari Jani, professor of interior architecture in the College of Architecture, Planning & Design, is the 2022 Wayne Hunt McElwee Faculty Award, recipient.

The award is given to a faculty member for being an outstanding teacher as designated by the dean of the college, based upon the recommendations of both students and faculty.

Jani studied architecture at CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India, founded by Pritzker Prize-winning architect B. V. Doshi. She earned her master's degree in interior architecture and design from Wayne State University in Detroit. In 2013, she became the first architect in the world to receive Rotary Peace Fellowship and earned her professional certification in peace and conflict resolution from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. Jani also holds a Bachelor of Arts in music and triple diplomas in dance, painting and Hindi language. She is a registered architect in India and holds National Council for Interior Design Qualification certification for interior design in the United States.

In more than 24 years of practice in India, the U.S. and Canada, she has served the architecture, interior design, facilities planning and management, and construction industries in an executive and management capacity. Her work represents large projects for major corporations, health care, educational institutions, government and hospitality clients.

As an academic, Jani enjoys working with students and engages them in creative, interdisciplinary, collaborative, service-learning projects. She has focused on shaping a peaceful and just world through her teaching and research while preparing her students to become responsible global citizens. She encourages her students to achieve culturally sensitive, inclusive design solutions, artistic and ethical excellence, employ scholarly rigor and develop socially just, sustainable design solutions. She cultivates students' interest in discovery, innovation and engagement with community and industry partners, and nurtures an academic environment that promotes critical and independent thought, evidence-based research and experimentation and a balance between theoretical and intellectual knowledge and creative innovation.

Her research efforts, conference presentations and publications have addressed a range of issues, including the contribution of non-Western cultures in the field of architecture and design, the influence of collaborative efforts in architecture and interior design education, sustainability and green design, and the influence of new technology and how it is impacting the interior design curricula.

In 2019 the IIDA and IDEC Foundation Diversity Award recognized Jani's efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusivity in the architecture and design education and profession. Her book "Diversity in Design: Perspectives from the Non-Western World," a Fairchild Publication, received the Best Book Award from Interior Design Educators Council in 2012. She also received a gold medal and a Best Thesis Award for her architecture research work, "Interiors and Furniture for Open Plan Offices." This research was published in 1990. Jani received a Civic Engagement Fellowship, Liebrock — IDEC Universal Design Fellowship, Tilford Fellowship, Big 12 Fellowship and a Kansas Campus Fellowship to support her teaching, research and creative scholarship and service.

"The McElwee Award is a fitting tribute given the intensity and drive Professor Jani brings to all aspects of the academic endeavor, carried out with pure joy in teaching and an unwavering dedication to preparing our students to make a profound impact through design and planning," said Tim de Noble, dean of the College of Architecture Planning & Design.

The McElwee award was established in 1993 in honor of Wayne Hunt McElwee who received his bachelor's in architecture from K-State in 1950. He began his career the same year at Black & Veatch in Los Alamos, New Mexico. By 1957, McElwee was serving as head of the architectural department in the company's Special Projects Division, a position he had until 1970. In 1977, he was named a partner in the firm.

In his career, McElwee managed several U.S. Department of Energy projects, as well as numerous projects pertaining to the military. He set the standards for facilities used to store weapons, arms and ammunition and designed contractor support facilities for military bases, missile reentry system facilities and missile maintenance facilities. In addition to the many structures he designed, McElwee also prepared studies on energy use and pollution abatement at military bases.

The award was established to honor McElwee, provide recognition and support faculty growth and development for outstanding teaching at APDesign at K-State, the alma mater he loved.

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