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KieranTimberlake supports UB future architects with undergraduate scholarship

Architecture and design firm KieranTimberlake has established a scholarship to improve access to architectural education. The fund is named for firm partner and UB architecture alumnus Matthew Krissel (BPS ‘97). 

By Rachel Teaman

Published August 21, 2017

Architecture and design firm KieranTimberlake has established a scholarship to help aspiring architects at UB take their first step into architectural education.

Through a $100,000 endowment gift to the School of Architecture and Planning, the firm will award two $1,000 scholarships to incoming freshman architecture students with academic promise and demonstrated financial need. The four-year renewable scholarship provides the potential for sustained support over the course of the awardee’s undergraduate tenure.

Named after KieranTimberlake and firm partner, UB architecture graduate Matthew Krissel (BPS ‘97), the UB scholarship is part of KieranTimberlake’s broader commitment to accessible architectural education. This past year the firm created seven such scholarships at the alma maters of each partner.

“Higher education is becoming increasingly inaccessible, especially for those who want to pursue architecture degrees,” says Krissel, noting the nation-wide trend in rising tuition and student living costs. “We see an opportunity to make a difference for people with great potential and great need. We hope these students go on and do great things.”

Dean Robert G. Shibley says such support is critical to reinforcing the pipeline of top talent into the School of Architecture and Planning and, ultimately, the profession. “We are extremely grateful for KieranTimberlake’s investment in our students. That the firm has extended its support to not one but seven programs across the U.S. shows the depth of its commitment to advanced education in our field.”

This year’s UB recipients are Michelle Chen and Hunter Perez.

KieranTimberlake thrives on a research-based approach to practice and a culture of “perpetual questioning.” Such openness to experimentation and collaborative problem-solving are among the “soft skills” Krissel says are critical to the aspiring architect,

Krissel says he is particularly proud to extend access to the UB architecture experience. Graduating in 1997 with his BPS, or Bachelor of Professional Studies, as UB’s undergraduate degree was then known, Krissel says he underwent a personal and intellectual transformation while at UB.

“The program at UB challenged me and provoked a curiosity and appreciation for the potential of design that I didn’t know existed,” says Krissel, who entered UB as a junior, after earning his two-year architectural technology degree from Alfred State. “It oriented me toward many of the things I’m interested in today.”

After graduating from UB, Krissel began his career with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Kohn Pedersen Fox in New York City.  He went on to earn his Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, where he pursued his research interests in design computation before joining KieranTimberlake in 2005.

As partner of the Philadelphia-based firm, known worldwide for its research-driven practice and environmental ethos, Krissel leads building projects as well as the Digital Design Visioning Group, a creative collaborative that engages the firm’s cross-disciplinary perspectives to foster digital innovation.

He has worked on projects for prominent institutions including the U.S. Department of State, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. His current projects include the new U.S. Embassy in London and a new multi-use facility for New York University.

Krissel has also participated in seminal research projects such as the Urban Loft Initiative, an exploration of high-rise modular housing, a Department of Energy-funded study of energy consumption in the average American home and the Dhaka Design-Research Laboratory, a cross-disciplinary design studio held at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Reflecting on the preparation of tomorrow’s architectural leaders, Krissel says soft skills are among the most in need: facility with giving and receiving constructive criticism, working with others, a willingness to take risks, and a thirst for problem-solving.

In a recent interview with Archinect on working for KieranTimberlake, Krissel says its culture of “perpetual questioning” is both the challenge and reward.

“There is a real belief in the power of collective intelligence and the concept that good ideas can come from every part of the room,” he says. “To foster this culture of participation, we also provide our staff with software and fabrication tools to explore ideas, and we hold them accountable in sharing their discoveries with others. Some people may find perpetual questioning, researching, and questioning again to be challenging, but the people who thrive here generally like to solve problems.”

The firm has received hundreds of design citations, including the American Institute of Architects 2008 Firm Award and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture from the Smithsonian Institution in 2010. It was selected by Metropolis Magazine as one of architecture and design’s “Game Changers” for 2016.