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PennDesign Teaching Awards

May 8, 2012, Volume 58, No. 33

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design is pleased to announce three recipients of the 2012 G. Holmes Perkins Awards for Distinguished Teaching.

These awards are named in honor of the late G. Holmes Perkins, dean from 1951-71 of the Graduate School of Fine Arts (now the School of Design), and are given in recognition of distinguished teaching and innovation in the methods of instruction in the classroom, seminar, or studio. Dean Perkins passed away in 2004 (Almanac September 7, 2004) at the age of 99. The Perkins Award was established in 1993 by former Dean and Paley Professor Patricia Conway. The undergraduate award was established by the School.

The awards will be presented at the PennDesign ceremony on Sunday, May 13, at 4 p.m. in Meyerson Hall, as part of the School’s graduation activities.

LandisThe 2012 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching will be awarded to Dr. John Landis, chairman and Crossways Professor of City and Regional Planning. Dr. Landis’ teaching brief includes courses in urban and planning theory, planning methods and public and private development. He also directs the Master of Urban Spatial Analytics Program. 

Students were enthusiastic in their praise, noting that Dr. Landis is “a very skilled teacher” and that “it is obvious that teaching is his passion.”

As one current student described, “He really cares about making sure his students understand all of the necessary information, history, facts, Excel functions, and so forth to do well, but more importantly, he asks the big questions and challenges his students to think creatively and comprehensively about society’s biggest problems.”

Another noted, “He is an outstanding professor because he really puts effort and thought into each one of his lectures, and that shines through incredibly clearly and makes all the information that much more digestible.”  

Dr. Landis’ current research efforts focus on urban and environmental modeling with an eye toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions; development of smartphone apps for urban planning; national housing policy; and identifying best practices in progressive real estate development. 

Dr. Landis received his PhD in city and regional planning from the University of California-Berkeley in 1983; and his BS in civil engineering from MIT in 1978.  Prior to coming to Penn in 2007, he taught city planning at UC-Berkeley, Georgia Tech and the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Landis’ most recent policy-oriented publications include “Rethinking Federal Housing Policy” (co-authored with Kirk McClure); and “Planning for Climate Change: Assessing Progress and Challenges” (co-authored with Randall Crane). Both appeared in 2010 in the Journal of the American Planning Association.

HenryThe 2012 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching by a member of the associated faculty will be awarded to Michael C. Henry, lecturer and adjunct professor of architecture.  Mr. Henry teaches courses in Building Pathology and Building Diagnostics and Monitoring in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. 

Mr. Henry consults throughout the United States and abroad on low-energy, sustainable approaches to providing conservation environments for cultural collections in museums and archives, focusing on historic buildings in challenging climates. Mr. Henry received a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar award in 2005-2006 to research and teach on this topic at the Centre for Sustainable Heritage at University College London. His engineering and architectural practice, Watson & Henry Associates, specializes in investigation and preservation of historic buildings throughout the United States.

Students praise Mr. Henry for being an enthusiastic educator genuinely interested in the success of his students, and inspiring with his ability to help them understand buildings in a new and exciting way.

He received a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston and a master of science in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. 

DahlgrenThe 2012 G. Holmes Perkins Undergraduate Teaching Award will be awarded to Andrew Dahlgren, lecturer of architecture. Mr. Dahlgren, who describes himself as a designer, organizer, maker and teacher, teaches studio in undergraduate architecture.

Students note Mr. Dahlgren teaches material “both relevant to our class and to our future careers as architects.” Another describes his method of instruction as “very clear and direct. He is extremely efficient at connecting concepts used in class to underlying concepts in architecture and greater design in the world.” 

Outside of his formal education, Mr. Dahlgren has worked as a woodworker and metal fabricator. He has produced custom furniture, architectural specialties, artwork, taking on each step of the process from designer to producer to project manager, including products developed for his own home furnishings product line.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Dahlgren has been involved with organizing several projects and events: Philly Works, Made in Philly, and Urban Studio. These projects focus on helping independent designers and makers gain exposure for their work and expanding the audiences who have access to design.

He received his BS in industrial design from North Carolina State University and his masters of industrial design from the University of the Arts.


Almanac - May 8, 2012, Volume 58, No. 33