The Original: Kathryn Anthony Guides Architects to Think Big Picture
By Edward Keegan
The Journal of the American Institute of Architects
11 January 2018
Photo courtesy of University of Illinois
College of Environmental Design alumna Kathryn Anthony (Ph.D. Architecture ‘81) is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign whose courses in design entrepreneurship attract students from around the world. Anthony, who is also the longest-serving female faculty member at the Illinois School of Architecture, has supported the role of architects in everything “from starting a business to tackling gender, race, and social issues” through her teachings and books.
Anthony's class called “Entrepreneurship in Design, Diversity, Environment, and Behavior” seeks to find the intersectionality of the above topics while equipping students “with the tools to [become] more effective leaders in the profession and to become more influential citizens whose work can have a significant impact on society,” Anthony explained.
Students are required to step out of the design studio bubble and “interface with the university’s Gies College of Business and the College of Engineering Technology Entrepreneur Center, as well as enterprising peers and alumni in Illinois and around the globe.”
“This class provides a vehicle for students to jump-start alternative careers related to design,” Anthony said.
For example, course alumnus Jordan Buckner recently launched a company that makes tea-infused energy snacks dubbed TeaSquares, which made the cut for Forbes’ 2018 edition of its “30 Under 30, Food and Drink” list.
“Studying architecture was crucial to my success as an entrepreneur, and participating in this class helped me identify how to translate those skills into the business world,” Buckner says.
The class not only hopes to encourage architecture students to consider alternative fields, but also benefits those who choose to stay within architecture, giving students “an opportunity to see themselves as entrepreneurs in designing their own career trajectories,” Anthony said.
Course alumna and CannonDesign senior associate Annie Sit, AIA, says that Anthony challenges architectural education to “emphasize design in a physical sense” and demonstrates to students how entrepreneurial leaders “observe problems from their daily lives, utilize their skills to solve problems, and improve lives and create value for society.”
Anthony also provides students with career-applicable skills, such as networking. Networking is highly emphasized in business-oriented schools but is rarely mentioned in design schools.
“You can help [others], they can help you,” Anthony said. “It’s important to have good friends.”
To maintain this focus on networking, Anthony has established a Facebook group for course alumni to expand their communities. Anthony reminds all the graduates from her course: “Don’t go back to your architectural cocoon. And lend a hand to people who aren’t like you.”