Duszan Poniz dies

Late professor remembered
as exceptional educator

Duszan Poniz, associate professor of architecture and member of the Texas A&M faculty since 1972, passed away May 11 in his College Station home. He was 77 years old.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, May 18 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in College Station, Texas.

Poniz was survived by two sons, Philip Poniz of New Jersey, and Michael Poniz of Warsaw, Poland.

“Though Duszan was an accomplished practitioner and scholar, his true passion was teaching, a craft in which he demonstrated superlative talent, insight and compassion,” said J. Thomas Regan, dean of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M. “The basis of his excellent design studio teaching was his passion for all aspects of geometry, and his enthusiasm for the work of his students. Many of Duszan's former students credit him for instilling in them an unfading passion for architectural design. He has left an indelible mark on the college, on the many students whose lives he has touched, and on his faculty and staff colleagues. We have lost a valued member of the College community, and we will miss him greatly.”

A licensed engineer and architect, Poniz earned doctorate and master of science degrees in civil engineering from Warsaw Polytechnic University in 1966, and 1951. His scholarly interests included design foundations, building systems, structural concepts, design communication and, most importantly, the geometry of form. For many of his 32 years at the Texas A&M College of Architecture, Poniz taught a freshman studio in foundation-level design, introducing many future architects to the underlying principles of design. For a time he served the Department of Architecture as program coordinator for the system development option of the Bachelor in Environmental Design degree plan.

In 1992 he received a Distinguished Award for Teaching from the Association of Former Students at Texas A&M University.

Poniz's fascination with two and three-dimensional grid systems, and their potential as guides for design and construction, formed the focus for early doctoral work in the College of Architecture. In later years, he applied his interest in a mathematical approach to design to his undergraduate studios.

“He never lost his dedication to teaching, and delighted in sharing student work with the college community,” said David Woodcock, professor of architecture and faculty member since 1960. “The end of each semester was marked by walls filled with his students’ colorful gridded networks and three dimensional models.”

"As a faculty colleague he never missed an opportunity to stress the importance of students. His dress could be whimsical and his comments unexpected, but he was a teacher's teacher, and we will miss him,” Woodcock continued. “His legacy is the special influence he had on three generations of students and a greater reward is hard to imagine.”

Born September 24, 1926 in Lwow, Poland, Poniz was the son of a Yugoslav father and a Polish-Armenian mother. He immigrated to the United States in 1972 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1978.

Prior to teaching architecture at Texas A&M University, Poniz worked as a structural and architectural designer on a variety of projects including sports halls, churches, schools, universities, exhibition pavilions and residential housing. In Poland, he specialized in updating inadequate and obsolete factories without disrupting production. He was well known for his ability to analyze and design complex structures and formulate solutions. Some of his innovative factory designs were recognized as outstanding achievements from the Polish architectural community.

Poniz began his teaching career in Poland, in 1951, while in professional practice. He has lectured throughout Europe and the United States on a variety of engineering and architectural topics including concrete and steel structures, structural analysis, descriptive geometry, and architectural technologies and design.

During his academic career, the professor published more than 40 publications in five different languages while developing proficiency in eight languages.

Throughout his career, Poniz was an active member of several professional and academic organizations including the Polish Civil Engineers Association, Society of Polish Experts in Building, Polish Cybernetics Society, Society of Yugoslav Engineers, and Iras-Institut de Recherché et D' Application des structures Spatiales, Paris.

In memory of Duszan Poniz's distinguished service to the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University, a 47-foot black veil was hung in the atrium of the Langford Architecture Center.

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Duszan Poniz