LAWRENCE — The work of two School of Architecture, Design and Planning faculty members was recognized recently when they received the School’s first-ever Research Impact Awards.
“Even in a relatively small school like ours we felt we could do a much better job of recognizing our peers,” said Keith Diaz Moore, the school’s associate dean for graduate studies. “So last year we started the Research Impact Award. We wanted to make our own faculty and students appreciate the great work that is done right here.”
Professor Kirk McClure of the Department of Urban Planning (right in photo) was recognized for his affordable housing research. Greg Thomas, director of the Center For Design Research and professor of design (left), was recognized for a variety of projects that use design to improve such things as driver safety and the way health care products are used.
Nominations were solicited from the faculty and vetted by the School’s Graduate Studies and Research Committee.
“Issues like affordable housing and the design of products that attack diabetes and make driving safer somehow touch the lives of almost everyone,” said Diaz Moore. “The dedication to high-quality inquiry that Greg and Kirk have displayed demonstrates the societal importance of what we do at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning.”
McClure explained that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds much of his affordable housing research. HUD and members of Congress consider his assessments of whether the billions of dollars spent on affordable housing create positive outcomes.
“Congress is no longer interested in supporting housing programs that just provide shelter,” McClure said. “If we are helping someone gain affordable housing, are they also locating so they can gain access to safer neighborhoods? If they have kids, are they getting in better schools? If they are unemployed, do they have access to equal opportunity?”
Thomas presented outcomes from a wide variety of projects he and his students have been doing at the Center for Design Research. In the past year alone he has partnered with Voice Assist, Bayer HealthCare and Garmin International.
Center for Design Research is on KU’s West Campus. It is composed of the Chamney Farm’s recently renovated house and barn, and a conference center built by Studio 804, went into full operation last year. “In the past year the CDR has done even more than we anticipated it would do,” Thomas said.
“Our students are using these spaces as a laboratory to work on health and wellness initiatives, smart grid building technology, vehicular transportation safety, connected vehicles, adaptive information displays and distracted driving.
“Ford even provided the front half of a car for the project we’re doing this semester, so we can conceptualize new internal controls, which is in the Chamney Barn,” he said.
The event was last month at the Center for Design Research.