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Research Symposium

Built and virtual environment research showcased at 7th annual global symposium



The College of Architecture at Texas A&M University held its seventh annual faculty research symposium, "Research on the Built and Virtual Environments: Global Symposia Presentations 2005," November 14 at the Langford Architecture Center.

The day-long research showcase featured a series of faculty presentations previously delivered at scholarly venues around the world. This year's symposium included invited or refereed presentations and papers from the 2004-05 academic year.

The symposium covered a diverse range of topics concerning the built and virtual environments. More than 50 presentations were delivered during four concurrent sessions arranged under topics including diachronic studies, disaster planning and management, visual explorations, sustainable urbanism, health by design, new tools and experimental pedagogy.

"The individual sessions comprising the symposium reflect all aspects of the designed environment," said Lou Tassinary, the college's associate dean for research. "The categories were not predetermined, but rather reflect themes that have emerged in the work of faculty over the past year."

The diverse line-up included presentations on architectural theory and design, art, urban planning, hazards mitigation, historic preservation, construction science, landscape architecture, 3-D modeling and animation, energy and conservation, and studio education.

"One organizing principle of the College of Architecture is the influence of research on teaching," said Dean J. Thomas Regan. "This annual symposium is a catalyst for the research-informed teaching that distinguishes all 12 of our degree programs."

"The College of Architecture's annual symposium provides a unique opportunity to learn about our faculty's diverse research initiatives," said Regan. "This year's event features 53 presentations selected from more than 400 papers presented last year at home and abroad. In the seven years since we began the symposium, our faculty have traveled the globe, presenting their work at academic events in more than 50 nations and in almost every state in the United States."

Highlighting the 2005 symposium was a keynote address by Philip R. Berke, an expert on environmental and land-use planning, sustainable development and natural hazards mitigation. Berke, a former Texas A&M professor and faculty fellow at the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, is professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His lecture, "Planning for Sustainable Cities: The Challenge for the 21st Century," focused on the dominant patterns for the building of American cities and metropolises. He discussed alternative visions emerging and taking hold throughout the country.

Prior to the keynote address, the 2005 global symposium hosted a "new friends" guest presentation featuring Mel Lees, professor of quantity surveying and education at the University of Salford's School of Construction and Property Management (SCPM) in Manchester, England. Lees talked about SCPM and its ongoing research initiatives with special emphasis on the United Kingdom's Research Assessment Exercise. He discussed SCPM's strengths in information technology, management systems and sustainability in construction and property management. His presentation also highlighted current SCPM research projects, including the SCRI center, nD-modelling, the "Thinking Lab," "Intellcities and the Construction Knowledge Exchange."

To facilitate the symposium and encourage student participation, the College of Architecture suspended all scheduled classes and studios on the day of the event.

"It is unusual for a college such as ours to take 'time out' from our usual schedule of classes, design studios and meetings to hear our colleagues report on their current research," Regan said. "Too often, faculty colleagues and graduate students are left at home when one of us travels to a distant symposium to deliver the latest in our thinking on a timely topic. It is fitting in our role as the largest college of our kind in the nation to establish new traditions, such as this one, that couple scholarly research solidly with professional education."

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