ArcD teaching professors bring professional perspectives to KU architecture and design students

LAWRENCE — Key to offering architecture and design students at the University of Kansas the widest range of career perspectives possible are the professionals who bring specialized expertise into studios as lecturers.  

The school has invested in strengthening the connection between education and practice by promoting eight long-term lecturers to teaching professors. This new designation will enhance continuity of academic offerings and allow students to more fully engage with the teaching and mentorship these professionals offer.   

Teaching Professors of Architecture

  • Thom Allen was a Research and Engagement Fellow from the Kansas City Design Center. His experience also includes the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning and New York City Department of Design and Construction.  

  • Alejandro Aptilon, who has designed projects in Mexico, Israel, and in the United States. He has practices in Kansas City and Mexico City. He was the 1997 recipient of the Young Creators National Award from the National Endowment for Culture and Arts in Mexico and has been internationally published. 

  • John Trefry has designed such projects as a United States courthouse for Austin, TX, a music library for the University of California Berkeley, and the School of Architecture building at Ohio State University. He gained academic experience across prestigious universities, including the University of North Carolina Charlotte, the University of Texas, the University of Oregon, Southern Polytechnic State University, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture.  

  • Amy Van de Riet is highly experienced in the work of historical preservation. In her career as a preservation architect, she’s worked on historic landmarks including Columbia University and the Brooklyn Bridge and has earned grants for numerous projects across New York City and New Jersey.  

  • Abbey Ockinga teaches foundational design skills and visual communications through the lends of an experienced Interior Design and Urban Planning professional. She specializes in materiality, space planning, and building information modeling and is a LEED accredited professional.   

“We are excited to have Professor Thom Allen, Alejandro Aptilon, John Trefry, Amy Van de Riet, and Abbey Ockinga join us as Assistant Teaching Professors,” said Hui Cai, chairperson for the KU Department of Architecture. “They each bring in unique expertise in urban design, cross-cultural architecture theory and criticism, creative and critical design thinking, historic preservation, inter-disciplinary human-centered design, and communication to our department. They also bring in rich architecture practice experience that our students will greatly benefit from. Their roles as Teaching Professors will allow the department to leverage their expertise and engage them in all aspects of teaching and mentoring, and will provide better continuity of their interactions with our students.” 

Teaching Professors of Design

  • Kent Smith, who is an illustrator, designer, sculptor, and maker whose work is found on toys, beer labels, masks, woodblocks, and more. He helps build creative community in Lawrence and works alongside the Lawrence Arts Center, The Percolator, and VanGo. 

  • Alex Anderson is a Kansas City-based designer and illustrator who has worked for Willoughby Design, Carpenter Collective, and Contraband. His list of clients includes Kansas City’s Stockyards District, WIRED, ESPN, the National Hockey League, and KU. 

  • Sam Yates is a Kansas City designer who has worked for PBS, Dimensional Innovations, D.C. firm Beveridge Seay, and Hallmark. She’s an award-winning designer who is active in the Kansas City design community and who owns a studio, Yup Yup Design. 

"Kent, Alex, and Sam have already been great contributors to our department,” said Tim Hossler, chairperson for the KU Design Department. “I’m happy we are able to reciprocate their hard work with a stronger commitment. We are honored to have them as colleagues.”