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Strategic Initiatives Director Nilou Vakil among 25 most admired architecture educators in U.S.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

LAWRENCE — America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools 2017-2018 recently named Nilou Vakil, University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design’s Interdisciplinary Innovation Fellow and Director of Strategic Initiatives, as one of its 25 Most Admired Educators.

The list was published by DesignIntelligence, an Atlanta-based publisher that produces an annual Best Architecture and Design Schools report, along with a host of other journals and reports that serve the architecture and design professions.

DesignIntelligence said its staff selected these education role models with input from thousands of design professionals, academic department heads and students. Educators and administrators from the disciplines of architecture, interior design and landscape architecture are considered for inclusion.

They wrote of her, “Vakil’s ability to explain how studio translates into the real world is not lost on her students. Deeply dedicated to the field of architecture and the university, she fosters an atmosphere of perseverance and excellence. She is well-regarded for her constructive feedback and passion.”

"What is so rewarding about teaching,” Vakil said, "is seeing that moment of understanding in a student’s eyes when they look at the world and know the impact that design has on all of our lives. When students see the power designers wield have to organize the way people live and work, that they can elicit emotional responses, that is a very empowering moment.

“I also appreciate how grounded and hardworking KU students are,” she said. “They appreciate it when we approach their education with rigor, excellence and high expectations.”

Of her Arc/D colleagues Vakil said, “I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by people who care so deeply about elevating their environment, quality of their work and their students’ success.

“And I’m impressed with the alumni who come back often to engage the school, and how important this place is to them. It feels good to be a part of that,” she said.

“Vakil’s absolute dedication to student success and excellence in studio-based learning places her among the best in the country as demonstrated by this national recognition,” said Arc/D Dean Mahesh Daas. “She has been a tremendous asset to our school.”

Vakil joined Arc/D as a lecturer in 2013 and teaches architectural design studio and seminars in digital media. In her current role, she creates new design programs for Arc/D. 

She is a registered architect and has worked in the design industry for over 18 years, specializing in civic, museum and cultural facilities projects in the U.S. and abroad. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design from the University of the Arts in Tehran, she earned a Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado at Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning.

In previous years, KU Architecture Department faculty members included in DesignIntelligence's 25 Most Admired Educators lists were Lecturer Anne Patterson, Professor Dan Rockhill and Associate Professor Paola Sanguinetti.