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Thaden School (Design Excellence)

Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program

Promoting the highest level of design in Arkansas’ Benton and Washington counties

Selection Committee

This committee will conduct an annual search for designers to create the pool from which the foundation can choose for upcoming Design Excellence projects. The selection committee was designed to have representation from an architect, a landscape architect, an urban designer, and the sitting dean at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas – all of whom have demonstrated promise and talent in their chosen career.

Toshiko Mori
Toshiko Mori

Toshiko Mori, FAIA
Founding Principal of Toshiko Mori Architect PLLC
The Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Toshiko Mori, FAIA is the founding principal of Toshiko Mori Architect PLLC, and the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She was inducted to the Academy of Arts and Letters in 2020 and has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2016.

Mori’s recent awards and honors include the Isamu Noguchi Award in 2021; the Louis Auchincloss Prize from the Museum of the City of New York in 2020; the ACSA Tau Sigma Delta National Honor Society Gold Medal in 2016; and Architectural Record’s Women in Design Leader Award in 2019. This year, her project “Fass School and Teachers’ Residence” won the 2021 AIA Architecture Award. Last year, she published two new monographs, one with a+u magazine for their February 2020 issue and another with ArchiTangle Berlin titled Toshiko Mori Architect: Observations.

Ellen Dunham-Jones.jpg
Ellen Dunham-Jones

Ellen Dunham-Jones
Professor of Architecture and Director of Master of Science in Urban Design program, Georgia Institute of Technology
Fellow of the Congress for the New Urbanism

Ellen Dunham-Jones is a professor of architecture and directs the MS in Urban Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology. An authority on sustainable suburban redevelopment, she maintains a unique database of over 2,200 suburban retrofits, hosts the REDESIGNING CITIES podcast series and was recognized in 2017 by Planetizen as one of the 100 most influential urbanists. She is co-author with June Williamson of Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges (Wiley, 2021 – winner of the Environmental Design Research Association’s Great Place Book of the Year Award) and Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs, (Wiley, 2009, 2011, winner of the PROSE award for best architecture and planning book of 2009.) Their documentation of successful retrofits of aging big box stores, strip mall corridors, and office parks into more sustainable places has been featured in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, PBS, NPR, TED and other prominent venues. She is a Fellow of the Congress for the New Urbanism as well as the Brook Byers Institute of Sustainable Systems, lectures widely, and conducts workshops and research on the many co-benefits of retrofitting – as well as on the potential urban design impacts of autonomous vehicles. She has BS and M.Arch degrees from Princeton University, practiced architecture for 20 years, and taught at UVA and MIT before being recruited to direct the Architecture Program at Georgia Tech in 2000.

Peter MacKeith design excellence
Peter MacKeith

Peter MacKeith, Dean and Professor
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
University of Arkansas

Peter MacKeith is the dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. He has been an associate professor in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as adjunct associate curator of architecture and design for the university’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. He served as associate dean of the Sam Fox School until June 2013.

MacKeith directed the international Masters Program in architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology from 1994-99 and previously taught in design and architectural theory at Yale University and the University of Virginia. He has worked in practices in both the United States and Finland and has written and lectured extensively in the United States, in Finland, and across the Nordic countries on the work of Alvar Aalto, and contemporary Finnish and Nordic architecture in general.

A past editor of Perspecta, The Yale Architectural Journal (1988), he is also the author and/or editor of numerous other publications, including Encounters: Architectural Essays, a selection of essays by Juhani Pallasmaa (2005) and Archipelago, Essays on Architecture (2006). MacKeith’s analytical drawings of Aalto’s buildings were included in the 1998 retrospective of Aalto’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2009, he co-curated the exhibition On the Riverfront: St. Louis and the Gateway Arch and was the venue coordinator for Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future. He also adapted the exhibition Design with the Other 90%: CITIES – organized by Cynthia E. Smith, curator of socially responsible design at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum – for the Kemper Art Museum.

MacKeith is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, research grants from The Graham Foundation for Advancement in the Visual Arts, and active in both the ACSA and the EAAE. He also has received two Creative Achievement in Design Education Awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) in 2008 and 2014.

Julie Bargmann
Founder + Principal, D.I.R.T. studio, Charlottesville, Virginia
Professor Emerita of Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia School of Architecture
Inaugural Laureate, Cornelia Oberlander International Prize in Landscape Architecture

Julie Bargmann. Design Excellence
Julia Bargmann

Julie Bargmann is internationally recognized as a leader in the design and building of regenerative landscapes as well as a rigorous, adventuresome educator. She founded D.I.R.T. studio in 1992 to execute projects with the passion, vision, and unflinching honesty that define her unique approach to difficult sites and circumstances.

Bargmann’s work hews to themes of economy of means, neighborhood connections, respect for site histories, and above all a love of the landscape—specifically, existing complicated places and often former industrial terrain. Highly regarded for her versatility and hands-on methods, Bargmann received her BFA in sculpture at Carnegie Mellon University before earning her masters in landscape architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Amongst numerous national and international awards received for DIRT work, Bargmann is a Fellow and Resident of the American Academy in Rome, the inaugural recipient of the Cornelia Oberlander International Prize in Landscape Architecture and most recently, the recipient of the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award in Architecture. All recognize that simplicity of form, use of extant materials, and deliberate restraint are hallmarks of her evocative and authentic landscapes.

Robert Burns, Home Region Program Director
Walton Family Foundation

Robert is director of the Home Region Program at the Walton Family Foundation.

Robert Burns DE copy
Robert Burns

In this role, he leads the foundation’s work advancing economic and cultural vibrancy, opportunity and inclusion in Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta.

Robert has more than 25 years of experience in workforce housing, philanthropy, community development and governmental affairs. Most recently, he led efforts to promote financial inclusion and economic empowerment as senior vice president of Citi. In previous roles, Robert partnered with nonprofit and public agencies to build more inclusive cities; managed a Community Development Financial Institution; directed nonprofit solutions for an affordable housing organization; and served in local government in four states.

Robert has a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s in political science from Appalachian State University.