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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Aki Ishida


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Aki Ishida, assistant professor of Architecture + Design, for engaging students in cognitive and sensory learning opportunities that foster student-driven discoveries.

Professor Ishida’s primary teaching responsibilities are centered on the second year of Bachelor of Architecture professional degree program. She encourages her students to build upon the abstract thinking and making skills from their first year lab. Through the process, the students are challenged to design architecture that embodies the spirit of the time and place while responding to the complexities of the site and functional requirements. She engages students in a range of activities, including multiple modes of drawing and modeling, theoretical readings on the basic elements of architecture, debates around recently completed buildings and editorials by architecture critics, interdisciplinary collaborations with engineers, and hands-on material experimentation. These opportunities recognize that discoveries occur in different times and contexts for different students.

Over 16 years of professional practice brings valuable knowledge and perspectives to her teaching. ARCH 2044 Building Materials, a new course she has developed since 2012, is a required class in which second year students are introduced to the physical attributes of basic building materials. She draws on her professional experience to inform which information to teach and how. In a society in which vision dominates over all other senses, she believes there is a place in architecture education for tactile exercises to manipulate materials with our hands. In Wintermester 2016, she led a study abroad course to take 17 architecture and design students to Japan for two weeks of intensive study. Witnessing a different thread of Modernism in a non-European country is a lesson in diversity and a way to critically reflect upon the more familiar modern architecture of the West. A SPOT comment says, “This course in Japan has helped me see a new culture, a new way of living, and most importantly, view Japanese architecture a completely different way. Having our professor Aki gave us the opportunity to see Japan through her lens.”

Professor Ishida was nationally recognized by DesignIntelligence as one of 25 Most Admired Educators for 2016. The report says, “Aki Ishida is invested in and encourages independent exploration by pushing the students of her studio to consider all factors in design by developing unique prompts to build focus on different aspects of design.” Her creative scholarship and research have been supported by grants from the Japan Foundation New York, the Graduate Kinne Traveling Fellowship from Columbia University, Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant from the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and the Baer Art Center. She has twice served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts ART WORKS grants. A SPOT comment for her ARCH 2015 Architecture II Design Lab says, “Aki organized a wide range of things and will not give you the solution or an explicit feedback. That forces the student to…keep working until a solution is found. To reach that point may take a week or a month, but the amount of things learned throughout the process is invaluable.”


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