Anne Taylor, Hon. AIA, president of Albuquerque, N.M.–based School Zone Institute, and a professor emerita at the University of New Mexico’s School of Architecture and Planning, has advocated for design education as a requirement for every child. One of the winners of this year's Collaborative Achievement Award, she responds to our architect's version of the Proust questionnaire here.
What is your greatest achievement?
I have a few great achievements: incubating and birthing three beautiful daughters; struggling with and completing the challenge of a Ph.D.; writing and publishing innovative books on design education and learning environment design; being one of three women deans in the graduate school at the University of New Mexico in the 1970s; playing the piano; and learning jazz.
What is the most memorable moment of your career?
The most memorable moment in my career was the opening of a large phantasmagoria exhibition for children on architecture and design at the Museum of History and Art in Anchorage, Alaska. Ultimately there were over 200,000 visitors to this exhibition.
When did you know you wanted to get involved in architectural education?
In 1966, after a beach walk in Mexico with 12 children who were making critical aesthetic judgments about the environment (shells), as well as a pilot study on the non-functional and aesthetic quality of 47 classrooms (while supervising student teachers).
What is the one thing you wish everyone knew about architectural education?
I wish there was a comprehensive interdisciplinary educational program in design thinking to help future generations have better knowledge and wisdom about the built environment.
What is the greatest challenge in the field today?
A lack of prioritized support for architects to do innovative sustainable design, reduce pollution, and be properly funded by society for their creative efforts.
What is the most promising aspect?
The AIA’s support for design education to prepare a new generation that demands a qualitative, aesthetic, and sustainable built environment.
What was your most rewarding collaboration?
Working with 10 architecture students and George Vlastos (lifetime collaborator) at Arizona State University to create an architectonic learning environment for preschool children based on their developmental needs, and to test and research its effect on four-year-olds in a study with control and experimental environments. Findings showed increase in concept and language development, creativity, sustained interest in play, and moving from isolated play to integrated play (socialization) in the experimental learning environment.
What project best represents your vision for pre-college architectural education?
Elementary, middle, and high schools need to integrate design thinking and design education as a required subject in all subjects. This will demand that colleges of education partner with schools of design to give professional development in design thinking to teachers and pre-service teachers. We can’t depend on architects to do all the teaching. They are busy running businesses.
What is the greatest ambition you have yet to achieve?
The establishment of a Design Center at the University of New Mexico or elsewhere to foster research and furtherance of design education for the schools of America and globally.
What is your greatest regret?
My greatest regret is not being able to split my time fairly between family and career, and not having enough money to make the Design Center dream come true.
What do you hope your legacy will be?
A critical mass of people teaching and learning about integrated design thinking and its impact on better student academic achievement for all students globally. I also hope to see newer designs for classrooms as studios.
What is the greatest challenge facing architects today?
The greatest challenges for architects today include innovative design, new use of new building materials, sustainability, and reduction of pollution in the environment.
What jobs did your parents have?
My father was a Shakespearean scholar, principal, and superintendent of schools. My mother was a home economics teacher, excellent gardener, and esthetician.
What would you have been if you weren’t an architect?
I would be just what I am now, a collaborator with architects for school design where the built and natural environment act as a learning tool. I am a curriculum innovator that integrates design into science, engineering, technology, arts, architecture, and more (STEAM) to teach architecture and design to students P-K to 12-plus.
What keeps you up at night?
I’m quite often thinking of work and hurting from carpal tunnel syndrome.
What is your favorite building?
My favorite building is Frank Gehry, FAIA’s Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles.
What is you most treasured possession?
My most treasured possession is my Czechoslovakian Petrof Grand piano.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My greatest extravagance is my art collection and mid-century modern furniture.
When and where were you the happiest?
I was happiest living in the desert in Scottsdale, Ariz., as a young mother collaborating with my children to do many creative projects and the intensity of working on a doctorate degree and the innovative research it generated.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is global warming and war from afar.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to draw well and play jazz well.
What does architectural misery mean?
To me, architectural misery means buildings that don’t work (schools), those that are ugly (schools), and the streets of America filled with homeless people (cluttered, ugly tents on the sidewalk).
What does architectural happiness mean?
Architectural happiness is the natural environment undisturbed, urban well-designed green space, and an aesthetically pleasing designed environment everywhere. An example of architectural happiness is my own home designed by Antoine Predock, FAIA, at La Luz in Albuquerque, N.M., and a view of the Sandia Mountains and blue sky.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I deplore being critical about surroundings and some people. Frequently I feel like I know too much.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
The trait that I deplore the most in others is talking too much, nonstop. I also deplore hate, unkindness, selfishness, and greed.
Which artists do you most admire?
I admire Leonardo da Vinci because he was a superior artist, architect, inventor, and more. I also like the honesty, simplicity, and technical ability of Native American artists.
What’s the last drawing you did?
The last drawing I did was of a Native American dance at Santa Clara Pueblo from memory (Feast Day) and natural objects like leaves and plants that show design principals and geometry.
Which five architects, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?
I would like to have dinner with Luis Barragan, Ricardo Legorreta, Antoine Predock (have done that), John Gaw Meem, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Which living person do you most admire?
I most admire Mary Baker Eddy (deceased) because when she was 90 years old, she created the Christian Science Monitor. I also admire my daughter Susan Stilley. She exudes love to everyone and survived a fall from the 5th floor of a hotel balcony in Mexico, but continues her good work for humanity.
Which book(s) are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Educated by Tara Westover, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope, Philosophy for Architects by Branko Mitrovic, and Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.
What’s the one question you wish we had asked (and answer to that question)?
How can we improve our educational system in America and elsewhere? I would redesign the American classroom as a studio to give more power to students to do some of their own creative work, more like the architectural design studios by which architects are trained. This would take the AIA and more architects becoming interested in teaching and using what they know to share with generations of the future. In the past architects have kept design as a carefully guarded secret.
What does winning the Collaborative Achievement Award mean to you?
I am humble about the award, but very proud of the collaborative work as a contribution and legacy by a woman (and others) for all children P-K through 12-plus worldwide. The question is, “Will the world of educators listen?”