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Arc/D announces Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Friday, September 08, 2017

LAWRENCE — Mahesh Daas, dean of the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design (Arc/D), and the school's Dean’s Advisory Board have announced the names of Arc/D's inaugural Distinguished Alumni Awards. They are furniture designer Wendell Castle, designer and community planner Silvia Vargas, and architect Jim Walters.

In addition, the Young Architect-Designer Award honors architects and designers who graduated from KU less than a decade ago who have already demonstrated leadership and significant contributions to their profession. Those recipients are architects Justin Cratty and Kenneth Simmons.

A jury chose the winners from nominations, submitted by Arc/D alumni and friends, which detailed the nominees' accomplishments in leadership, public service and their professional achievements. The awards framework was developed by the Alumni Experience Committee of the Dean’s Advisory Board.

“Among our 11,000 alumni there are innumerable people whose achievements are extraordinary,” Daas said. “And our honorees’ accomplishments personify our vision to be ‘the pioneering force for global impact through design.’”

The awards will be given at Arc/D’s Fly High Banquet on Oct. 27. That celebration follows the school’s second annual Alumni Symposium, a daylong campus event when alumni will make presentations on the theme of “The 12,000 Who Transform.” Details may be found at https://arcd.ku.edu/12ku.

Arc/D’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients:

Wendell Castle (B.F.A., industrial design, 1958; M.F.A. 1960), furniture designer. Castle has been called “the father of the art-furniture movement.” His furniture seamlessly merges the industrial design and sculpture he studied at KU, earning him a Gold Medal from the American Craft Council and many other awards. Examples of his work are held in the collections of more than 50 museums and some 20 corporations.

Silvia Vargas (B.A., architectural studies, 1991; M.U.P., 1993) president, Silva Vargas-Community Planning. Vargas’ focus has been on the creation of urban plans that represent the consensus of a community’s priorities. She has been a project manager and team leader for more than 15 years, directing the creation of plans and implementation tools such as urban design guidelines and zoning code updates, in the U.S. and abroad.

Jim Walters (B.E.D. 1975, B. Arch., 1977) founding partner, Populous. During his 25-year career at Populous, which was formerly HOK Sport Venue Event, he led the design of more than 20 major stadium projects. He is on the Board of Commissioners on the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, and serves on the Mid-America Regional Council Board of Directors.

Young Distinguished Architect-Designer Award recipients

Justin Cratty (M.Arch., 2008), senior associate, Gensler, laboratory designer. Based in the United Kingdom, Cratty has worked on millions of square feet of laboratory space in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East; data centers; skyscrapers; and retail and hospitality projects. He was also the president of the American Institute of Architects’ U.K. chapter.

Kenneth Simmons (M.Arch., 2007), architect, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). During his time at the Corps of Engineers, Simmons has helped develop technical policy, guidance and criteria for USACE construction activities, and he led technical advancements in construction. He has served both the nation and profession as a public-sector architect by managing critical infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars.