Sam Lima, M.Arch.’10, Dream Dallas award, and critical practice

Sam Lima, M.Arch.’10. Exterior perspective for Habitat for Humanity house. Dream Dallas competition entry.

The winners of the ICA&CA (Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America) Texas Chapter and Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity Dream Dallas Home Design Competition were announced September 9, 2010. Sam Lima, JU M.Arch.’10, was one of several Honorable Mentions and the only solo entrant recognized in the awards.

Sam’s success points to the need to be in the game.  Having also won a Honorable Mention in the 2009 AIAS/AARP Livable Communities Design Competition, Sam may be the most decorated JU Architecture student.

Sam’s interest in affordable housing has been shared by the JU program more generally.  This summer, the JU graduate Community Service studio designed a Habitat for Humanity neighborhood and houses in Carpentersville, IL; this follows student participation in local Habitat construction projects over several years.  Additionally, Jana Brink, JU M.Arch.’08, designed prototypical neighborhoods and housing for the Roma in Serbia.  After a connection made by program friend, Mr. Michael Watkins, to a service mission, directed by Mr. Joey Potter, architecture students (Andrew Banks, Jana Brink, Stephen Cullum, Brendan Herr, Joel Kerner, Nicole Matya, Chris Miller, Andrew Moneyheffer, Brian Mork, Jessica Palmerin, Brianna Simcox, Derek Stoner, and Jason Wyman) have been, over several years, constructing one-week houses in Tecate, Mexico.

In May 2003, JU’s Community Service studio, under the leadership of Prof. David Amundson, designed houses for the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity chapter.  The student work (Rich Blair, Joe Buehler, Nathaniel Funk, Jesse Lawrence, Jeremy Lindsey, Simon Little, Leanne Olson, and Joni Priest; all M.Arch.’05) for the bungalows was directed by Professors David Amundson and Nathaniel Brooks, M.Arch.’03.  David Amundson and the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity chapter realized the construction of the houses with Tinaglia Architects as the Block Build project.  The houses were occupied beginning in December 2005.  Since then the effort has been recognized in the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Silver Award for Excellence, 2006, (reported by H.U.D.’s Office of Policy Development and Research in HUD User) and Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council in Home Grown: Local Housing Strategies in Action under the category of Housing Development:  Elgin, Block Build. The project was also reported by Housing Zone’s Professional Builder under 2006 Best in American Living Award: Silver: HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence. Most recently this project was cited in Marga Jann and Stephen Platt, “Philanthropic Architecture: Nongovernmental Development Projects in Latin America,” Journal of Architectural Education, Spring 2009.

Its been said recently, that with respect to the academic enterprise of schools of architecture, design such as that undertaken in the Dream Dallas competition is nice but not really critical practice.  Sadly, “critical practice” has become a codeword for the style of projects that fill the architecture magazines and especially those journals that report the work in architecture schools.  Critical theory, for at least twenty years, and critical practice, more recently and especially in architecture’s academia, are contested ideas and demand much more careful attention that can be allotted here.  It seems, however, that critical thinking would tolerate and encourage all approaches rather than those that meet some conventional threshold.  More important to this writer is the opposition or mutual exclusivity, as I have heard it expressed, between critical practice and serving fellow human beings.  To my mind, the greatest critical practice is that which dignifies the other (avoiding paternalism, of course) as more than a merely material being but rather a person of transcendent value and meaning.

Sam Lima, M.Arch.’10. Interior view for Habitat for Humanity house. Dream Dallas competition entry.
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