Shannon Criss, M.Arch

School of Architecture, Design & Planning - Architecture
Associate Professor
Primary office:
785-864-3861
Marvin Hall
Room 102
University of Kansas
1465 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045


SHANNON CRISS is a licensed architect and an Associate Professor in the Architecture Department at the University of Kansas. Through her work at KU she is able to bring focus to community engagement processes and service learning opportunities to create an architecture that serves the greater good. The endeavor requires that we think beyond the singular architectural object and develop deep, long-term, loose-fitting principles to guide the work we do as architects; developing strategies that make the architectural object the right fit, for many people, for a long time. In order to be effective, this premise requires collaborative thought and work, where students identify and examine ideas driven by their empathy for others’ needs and their own natural curiosity to explore and offer new insight to a given problem, with the premise that good design is enduring design. Through externally funded research projects that incorporate design courses, she is able to engage urban communities of need in Wyandotte County. Shannon believes that by meeting people where they are, “these real-world experiences enhance the student perspective on what can be achieved when working with community insight as a guide to plausible, well-designed solutions.” Shannon is a strong advocate to help students see their role as agents to connecting communities with design that promote environmental sustainability, social equity and community resilience.

Her work has been published in PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America and in Good Deeds, Good Design, Community Service Through Architecture published by Princeton Architectural Press. She is a graduate of Kansas State University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and has taught at the Boston Architectural Center, The Harvard Graduate School of Design, Mississippi State University and the University of Kansas.

Teaching Interests

  • Engaged Scholarship, Public Interest Design, Resilient Design, Sustainable Design, Visualization, Design Process, Human-Centered Design, Building Design

Research

Global flows of goods, services and capital have wrought tremendous changes in our culture. Amidst these sweeping transformations, which seem destined to continue, we tend to lose interest in local or regional marketplaces, and lapse in our commitment to locally shared values and our own sense of place. Community life suffers; we neglect the public realm. The architectural profession is likewise affected by these changes, as it seeks to secure its future in this changed landscape. If architecture can’t serve the greater good, what value does it have? Can we really be satisfied by serving the 2% of the market that can afford “design”?

My research works to catalyze means and resources in order to create an architecture that serves the greater good. To do so, my research investigates how we make buildings and communities, and develops processes and strategies to enable an entity—whether an individual or institutional client, a neighborhood, or a community—to build for itself what it could not do on its own. Architecture can promote the larger public welfare at a variety of scales: from the scale of the materials we choose to build with, to the ways in which we consider new (and re-used) individual buildings, to the means by which we form the larger public realm.

In each of these scales of development, establishing an enduring design is essential. The endeavor requires that we think beyond the singular architectural object and develop deep, long-term, loose-fitting principles to guide the work we do as architects; developing strategies that make the architectural object the right fit, for many people, for a long time. Good design is enduring design.

This premise requires collaborative thought and work. Unfortunately, in academia we give priority to single-minded approaches and design solutions. We praise the novel, individual genius at the expense of collaborative, holistic, diverse design solutions. In practice, we mostly build for single clients, (individual or institutional committees), concerned for the architectural object within defined, property-line boundaries. This insulated thinking and action (perhaps unconscious for many) limits the potential of architecture to act in useful and productive ways in society. In almost every research project, I attempt to include others, be interdisciplinary, and be public. The research is strengthened by dialogue, diversity of view, and by the less-tangible elements that test the physical object (whether efficiency, durability, healthy human relationships, or possession). Along with working in collaborative ways, I have felt it critical to make my work, our work, as architects, public.

Since beginning this inquiry in graduate school, my research has continually evolved, starting with understanding the public realm—at the larger community scale. Much of this work has been an attempt to understand how the public realm, with individual buildings placed within this realm (places of commerce, housing, daycare) can best support an inspired and enduring community life and making those efforts public. Directly working with the citizens in a community and building actual constructions has tested design methodologies by working directly with materials, on actual sites and with real people. Through these sorts of public-realm projects in fringe communities, I have found a great need for infill housing, affordable housing and childcare as part of the larger community-life matrix. My research attempts to fill this need. So much housing, particularly the nominally “affordable,” is plunked into neighborhood without considering non-traditional family life, work/living arrangements, affordability as defined by durability maintainability, limiting energy consumption, lasting and healthy materials, connection to public transportation, and the like. Current research and proposals indicate a strong future in this area. And finally, this research challenges my teaching methodologies and has contributed to a national discourse on the value of teaching community design and service learned.

Research Interests

  • Engaged Scholarship, Public Interest Design, Resilient Design, Social Impact Design, Community Based Participatory Research, Trans-Disciplinary Methodologies, Community Engagement, Community Service Practice, Resilient Design, Sustainable Design, Particip

Selected Publications

Criss, S. (in press). Proceedings for Building for Health and Well-Being Conference (Honolulu, Hawaii).

Criss, S., & Kleinmann, M. (2017). Dotte Agency: A Participatory Design Model for Community Health. The Plan Journal, 1(2), 213-237. DOI:10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.09 http://www.theplanjournal.com/system/files/articles/tpj_v1_i2_Art_Criss.pdf

Criss, S., & Gore, N. (2017). Embracing Uncertainty: Community Designbuild. In . (Ed.), Designbuild Education in North America. New York: Routledge.

Criss, S., & Gore, N. (in press). Mobilizing for Better Health through Prototyping Park Infrastructure. In Proceedings for Building for Health and Well-Being Conference (Honolulu, Hawaii).

Criss, S. (2015). Connecting the 'Dottes': University of Kansas' Dotte Agency Connects Design Solutions with Real Community Needs In . (Ed.), 2015 Progress Report: Design & Health Research Consortium.

Criss, S. (2015). Architecture Program Fostering a Healthier Wyandotte County Receives Grants.

Criss, S. (2015). Diagramming, Scaffolding and Transforming the Architecture Curriculum. In Center for Teaching Excellence.

Criss, S. (2015). Practicing Urban Acupuncture: When it Comes to Design and Health, University-Led Teams are Turning Research into Reality.

Criss, S. (2015). "Kansas City, Kansas, Groups Work to Revive Deserted Jersey Creek Trail".

Criss, S. (2015). "moCOLAB Wins Inspirations Award from Contract Magazine".

Criss, S. (2015). "Design Futures Student Leadership Forum Comes to KU".

Criss, S. (2015). "Architecture Students Win Monsters of Design Awards".

Criss, S. (2015). "KU's moCOLAB Rolls Out for Campus Debut April 10th".

Criss, S. (2015). "Architecture Student Work on Display During KC Design Week".

(2014). "Architecture Named to AIA Health Design Consortium".

Criss, S. R, & Gore, N. N (2014). Architecture as Acupuncture., 2(2). http://public.imaginingamerica.org/blog/article/architecture-as-acupuncture/

Criss, S., & Gore, N. (2014). Going Mobile. Imagining America National Conference, Altanta, GA.

(2014). "Professor Selected for Health Care Foundation Leadership Academy".

Criss, S., & Bowne, L. (2013). Drawn Through: The Sectional Perspective as a Tool of Engagement.

Selected Work

Our Hippie Modernism, KU Chalmers Hall Gallery, Lawrence, KS, USA. 2016 - 2016

"Emerging Economies: Makers and Collaborators in Action in Kansas City", Mobile Collaboratory, Kansas City , MO. 2014 - 2014

Selected Presentations

Criss, S. (03/24/2017). Design for Social Impact - The Plan Journal, Special Focus Session. 105th ACSA Annual Meeting. Detroit, MI

Criss, S. (03/23/2017). ACSA Tenure & Promotion White Paper. 105th ACSA Annual Meeting. Detroit, MI

Criss, S. (03/23/2017). Collaborative Practices Awards. 105th ACSA Annual Meeting. Detroit, MI

Criss, S. (03/23/2017). Health Beyond Healthcare. 105th ACSA Annual Meeting. Detroit, MI

Criss, S. (03/23/2017). Interdisciplinary Scholarship Special Focus. 105th ACSA Annual Meeting. Detroit, MI

Criss, S., Spreckelmeyer, K. & Kleinmann, M. (03/21/2017). AIA Detroit Health + Design Research. AIA Health + Design Consortium Meeting. Detroit, MI

Criss, S. & Gore, N. (02/23/2017). A Crooked Path: Evolving a Design/Research Agenda at Dotte Agency. Excellence & Impact SADP Design Research Symposium 2017. Lawrence, KS

Criss, S., Gore, N. & Kleinmann, M. (02/11/2017). Who's at the Table?: Using the Design Process to Build a Healthy Community and Civic Pride. 5th Annual Community Development Workshop. Kauffman Foundation, Kansas City, MO

Criss, S. (10/31/2016). What is HCF's Healthy Communities Leadership Academy? Healthy Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City Online Video. Available Here

Criss, S. & Gore, N. (10/21/2016). Taking "Engagement" Seriously: Mobilizing Community for Better Parks and Public Health. Scholarship of Social Engagement Symposium. Lawrence, KS

Criss, S. & Gore, N. (10/14/2016). Dotte Agency: A Community Outreach Center that Connects and Tackles Problems through Design. University of Kansas Campus to Community Workshop. Lawrence, KS

Criss, S. (09/24/2016). Access to Healthy Food and Neighborhood Walkability: Insights through Inter-Professional Curricula. Building for Health and Well-Being, ACSA Annual Meeting. Honolulu, Hawaii

Criss, S. & Gore, N. (09/23/2016). Mobilizing for Better Health through Prototyping Park Infrastructure. Building for Health and Well-Being, ACSA Annual Meeting. Honolulu, Hawaii

Criss, S., Ramaswamy, M. & Kleinmann, M. (06/14/2016). Access to Healthy Food and Neighborhood Walkability: insights through Inter-Professional Curricula. ASPPH Presents Webinar: Public Health and Architecture Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Available Here

Criss, S. (04/12/2016). "How Are You Building Value in Your Community?". AIA Design + Health Consortium. Washington, DC

Criss, S. & Zell, M. (03/01/2016 - 03/31/2016). "Partnerships with Community Colleges". Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Seattle, Washington

Criss, S. & Kleinmann, M. (02/28/2016). Access to Healthy Food and Neighborhood Walkability: Insights through Inter-Professional Curriculu. SADP Research Symposium. Lawrence, KS

Criss, S. & Gore, N. (02/28/2016). Connecting Through Mobility. SADP Research Symposium. Lawrence, KS

Criss, S., Gore, N. & Kleinmann, M. (02/28/2016). Transforming Scholarship through Community-Based Research and Service Learning. SADP Research Symposium. Lawrence, KS

Criss, S. (01/01/2015 - 12/31/2015). "Getting Students to Practice What You Teach: Best Practices in Experiential Learning". Center for Teaching Excellence KU Summit. Budig Hall

Criss, S. & Gore, N. (10/09/2014). Going Mobile. Imagining America National Conference. Atlanta, GA

Criss, S. (10/01/2014). "Trends in Architecture Practice". American Institute of Architecture Annual Meeting. Wichita, KS

Criss, S. & Gore, N. (06/06/2014). "Public Interest Design at University of Kansas". Design Futures Public Interest Design Student Leadership Forum. New Orleans, LA

Criss, S. (03/31/2014). Studies in Urban Acupuncture. SADP Research Topics Series. Marvin Hall

Criss, S., MacNamara, S., Luce, B., Bowne, L. & Gore, N. (10/04/2013 - 12/31/2013). Performative Infastructures. Workshop presentation, 2013 National Imagining America: Artists, Scholars and Designers in Public Life Conference.

Selected Grants

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Gore, Nils, (Co-Investigator), Community Development Investments on Resident Health, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, $31,790, Submitted 10/01/2016 . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Proposal Submitted.

Criss, Shannon , (Principal), Gore, Nils, (Co-Investigator), Kleinmann, Matt, (Co-Investigator), Exploring the Jersey Creek Watershed through a Mobile, Interactive Toolkit, Mid-America Regional Council: Water Quality Education Grant, $2,000, Submitted 12/01/2016 . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Proposal Submitted.

Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), Criss, Shannon, (Co-Principal), Developing a Mobile Bike Kitchen Prototype for Cooking Demonstrations, 1422 Grant sponsored by Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, $5,000, (07/01/2016 . Federal. Status: Funded.

Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), Criss, Shannon, (Co-Principal), Developing Park Signage Prototypes to Promote Walkability in Wyandotte County, 1422 Grant sponsored by Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, $7,500, (06/01/2016 . Federal. Status: Funded.

Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), Criss, Shannon, (Co-Principal), Developing Bike Rack Prototypes to Promote Physical Activity in KCK, 1422 Grant sponsored by Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, $2,000, (09/01/2015 . Federal. Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), , Mobilizing the Dottes for Better Health Through Design, The Health Care Foundation of Greater KC, $131,000, Submitted 02/18/2017 (07/01/2017 - 06/30/2019) . Foundation. Status: Proposal Submitted.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1422 Grant: State and Local Public Health Actions to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease and Stroke Program, 1422, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, $35,000, Submitted 10/01/2016 (01/01/2016 - 09/30/2017) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Gore, Nils, (Co-Investigator), Kleinmann, Matt, (Co-Investigator), Fabrication of Mobile Market Phase II, Menorah Heritage Foundation, $20,000, Submitted 01/01/2017 (06/01/2017 - 06/30/2017) . Foundation. Status: Proposal Submitted.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), , (Co-Principal), Connecting the Dottes: Finding and Building Intersections Between Access to Healthy Food & Walkable Neighborhoods, The Health Care Foundation of Greater KC, $89,472, Submitted 02/18/2015 (07/10/2016 - 06/30/2017) . Foundation. Status: Funded.

Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), Criss, Shannon, (Co-Principal), Developing Bike Rack Prototypes for Wyandotte County, 1422 Grant sponsored by Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, $1,500, (07/01/2016 - 06/30/2017) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Nollen, Nikki, Access to Healthy Food and Neighborhood Walkability, Univ of KS Med Ctr Research Institute, $7,000, Submitted 12/11/2015 (08/08/2015 - 01/07/2017) . University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, Gore, Nils, "Mapping the Grandview Boulevard Neighborhood", Local Initiatives Support Corporation, $10,000, Submitted 01/01/2015 (01/01/2015 - 12/31/2016) . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1422 Grant: State and Local Public Health Actions to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease and Stroke Program, 1422, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, $35,000, (10/01/2015 - 09/29/2016) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Connecting the Dottes through Project-Based Prototyping, Wyandotte Health Foundation, $25,000, Submitted 08/12/2015 (09/01/2015 - 08/31/2016) . Foundation. Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Principal), Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), , (Co-Principal), Connecting the Dottes: Finding and Building Intersections Between Access to Healthy Food & Walkable Neighborhoods, The Health Care Foundation of Greater KC, $51,025, Submitted 02/18/2015 (07/10/2015 - 06/30/2016) . Foundation. Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, Gore, Nils, Kleinmann, Matt, Mobile Infrastructure for Participatory Design Ethnography, Hall Center for the Humanities (Scholars on Site), $9,950, Submitted 05/01/2015 (05/01/2015 - 05/31/2016) . University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, Sanguinetti, Paola , Chang, Jae , "Diagramming, Scaffolding and Transforming the Architecture Curriculum", Center for Teaching Excellence, $5,000, Submitted 01/01/2014 (01/01/2014 - 12/31/2015) . University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

, , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1422 Grant: State and Local Public Health Actions to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease and Stroke Program, 1422, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, $35,000, Submitted 01/01/2014 (01/01/2014 - 09/30/2015) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Co-Investigator), Sanguinetti, Paola , (Co-Investigator), "Integrating Basic Principles, Visualization and Computational Skills in Architectural Education, University of Kansas, $5,000, Submitted 02/01/2014 (05/01/2014 - 03/31/2015) . University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, (Co-Principal), Gore, Nils, (Co-Principal), Witczak, Andrea, (Co-Principal), KU Strategic Initiative Grant, Level II: Developing a Mobile Collaboratory for Civic Engagement, $31,000, (08/15/2013 - 01/31/2015) . University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

Criss, Shannon, Shellhorn, Jeremy , KU Commons Mind Body Machine: Human Design Space, $775, (01/01/2010 - 12/31/2011) . University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

Research

Global flows of goods, services and capital have wrought tremendous changes in our culture. Amidst these sweeping transformations, which seem destined to continue, we tend to lose interest in local or regional marketplaces, and lapse in our commitment to locally shared values and our own sense of place. Community life suffers; we neglect the public realm. The architectural profession is likewise affected by these changes, as it seeks to secure its future in this changed landscape. If architecture can’t serve the greater good, what value does it have? Can we really be satisfied by serving the 2% of the market that can afford “design”?

My research works to catalyze means and resources in order to create an architecture that serves the greater good. To do so, my research investigates how we make buildings and communities, and develops processes and strategies to enable an entity—whether an individual or institutional client, a neighborhood, or a community—to build for itself what it could not do on its own. Architecture can promote the larger public welfare at a variety of scales: from the scale of the materials we choose to build with, to the ways in which we consider new (and re-used) individual buildings, to the means by which we form the larger public realm.

In each of these scales of development, establishing an enduring design is essential.  The endeavor requires that we think beyond the singular architectural object and develop deep, long-term, loose-fitting principles to guide the work we do as architects; developing strategies that make the architectural object the right fit, for many people, for a long time.  Good design is enduring design.

This premise requires collaborative thought and work.  Unfortunately, in academia we give priority to single-minded approaches and design solutions.  We praise the novel, individual genius at the expense of collaborative, holistic, diverse design solutions.  In practice, we mostly build for single clients, (individual or institutional committees), concerned for the architectural object within defined, property-line boundaries.  This insulated thinking and action (perhaps unconscious for many) limits the potential of architecture to act in useful and productive ways in society.  In almost every research project, I attempt to include others, be interdisciplinary, and be public.  The research is strengthened by dialogue, diversity of view, and by the less-tangible elements that test the physical object (whether efficiency, durability, healthy human relationships, or possession).  Along with working in collaborative ways, I have felt it critical to make my work, our work, as architects, public.

Since beginning this inquiry in graduate school, my research has continually evolved, starting with understanding the public realm—at the larger community scale.  Much of this work has been an attempt to understand how the public realm, with individual buildings placed within this realm (places of commerce, housing, daycare) can best support an inspired and enduring community life and making those efforts public.  Directly working with the citizens in a community and building actual constructions has tested design methodologies by working directly with materials, on actual sites and with real people. Through these sorts of public-realm projects in fringe communities, I have found a great need for infill housing, affordable housing and childcare as part of the larger community-life matrix.  My research attempts to fill this need.  So much housing, particularly the nominally “affordable,” is plunked into neighborhood without considering non-traditional family life, work/living arrangements, affordability as defined by durability maintainability, limiting energy consumption, lasting and healthy materials, connection to public transportation, and the like.  Current research and proposals indicate a strong future in this area. And finally, this research challenges my teaching methodologies and has contributed to a national discourse on the value of teaching community design and service learned.

Academic Areas

  • Architecture

Areas of Expertise

  • Sustainable Design
  • Community Design
  • Recycled-Content Architectural Products

Courses Taught

  • ARCH 201, Undergraduate Architectural Design II
  • ARCH 500, Undergraduate Design Studio VII
  • ARCH 703, Graduate Architectural Design III
  • ARCH 680, Building with Intelligence: An Introduction to Sustainable Design
  • ARCH 681, Defining Community

Education

  • B.Arch., Kansas State, 1985
  • M.Arch., Harvard, 1992

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