Retirement Congratulations to Professor Kathleen Lugosch
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Professor Kathleen Lugosch FAIA retired in May 2020 after 32 years of teaching. We miss the wisdom and enthusiasm that she brought to the everything she did, whether it was a studio, lecture, or a faculty meeting, and thought it would be nice to share a few reflections on her time at UMass.
A November 6, 2021 Homecoming event to celebrate 50 years of design education at UMass and to honor her retirement was attended by about 80 colleagues, former students, and friends. There we were delighted to hear from some of Kathleen’s first students, and those who had the pleasure of learning from her just a few years ago. Many of those who spoke at the event shared their memories of Kathleen's thoughtful encouragement and patient wisdom whether offering critique for design projects or about career choices.
Kathleen's excellence has been recognized by her students and affirmed though numerous awards including: American Institute of Architects College of Fellows (FAIA), Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Research and Creativity, UMass Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, Boston Society of Architects Women in Design Award of Excellence, University of Massachusetts Graduate Mentor Award, and United States Green Building Council (USGBC) West Branch “Green Giants” Award.
Kathleen taught her first studio in 1988, and continued to teach occasionally through 1995, when she was hired on a tenure track position along with two others. Upon her faculty appointment she was asked to direct the Area of Interior Design in the Department of Art. Her dream was to grow this education into an accredited, licensable degree in architecture, creating a path for students who could not afford a private education. Over the next 10 years Kathleen and her colleagues built a small but mighty coalition of faculty from departments across the campus to organize the University of Massachusetts Program in Architecture + Design, and received university and state approvals for the Master of Architecture degree in 2004. This program grew into the Department of Architecture and established the University of Massachusetts as the first public university in New England to offer a National Architecture Accrediting Board-accredited Master of Architecture degree in 2007. Fittingly, under Kathleen’s stewardship, the program embodied the ideals of a public institution, creating an accessible pathway to the profession.
Kathleen has touched the lives of nearly every student who has passed through the program. She regularly taught both undergraduate and graduate-level design studios. She was the regular instructor of the Architecture + Landscape Architecture joint graduate studio and was also thesis director for many years. She also served as Graduate Program Director.
During all her years of teaching Kathleen maintained an architectural practice, Lugosch Architect, focused on residential design. She has designed many custom homes as well as additions/renovations, striving to integrate the aesthetics of architecture with research and the application of environmental technology. In her UMass classes students were encouraged to recognize how their design ideas engaged with real world issues of both habitation and environmental sustainability. Kathleen spoke often about the value of connecting practice and academia. She noted that, “Architecture is complex, made of dreams and challenging realities. Running a practice while teaching allowed me to help students think about how you start to connect the many complexities of architecture.” She put these ideas to work on a number of projects including the design and development of a workforce duplex on Henry Street in Amherst, and she was co-founder of the Center for Design Engagement, a nonprofit community design organization based in Holyoke.
When asked to identify what she feels are the most pressing challenges and opportunities ahead for the UMass Architecture program, Kathleen pointed to the need to increase the participation by People of Color in the profession. The Department of Architecture should look like America. As Kathleen said during her Homecoming speech, “There is still a question as to who has access to an architectural education. As a department, we recognize that we have fallen short of providing that access to minority communities. The Department of Architecture here at UMass is actively working to address this shortfall. During the remote year of COVID architecture faculty and students undertook a deep self-critique about racial equity, exploring ways to achieve greater inclusion. Opening paths to BIPOC students is an important promise this department has made, one that continues to build on the ethos of inclusion. The greater the diversity among architects, the more minds from different backgrounds that are participating in the world of design, the more possibilities we will have for creative innovation.”
Admiration for Kathleen's impact inspired UMass class of 1964 alumnus Charles Hadley to establish the Kathleen Lugosch Architecture Award Fund, an endowed scholarship to support students in the Master of Architecture program. The scholarship will be given annually and aims to provide financial assistance to socioeconomically disadvantaged students who are disproportionately impacted by the lack of resoures to continue their educational pursuits.
Asked to comment on what she’s enjoying about retirement, Kathleen said, “There is the tried and also very true answer is that I have more time for my family, my children and grandchildren, more time for my friends and time to pursue other interests in my life. For me, so far, that is the gift of more time to be immersed in the world around me, to play with things I haven’t previously had time for, to design my landscape and gardens, to learn the forests that surround my house, and to think about what I will next want to explore and where I will invest my energy.” As to why she felt the time was right, she said, “I am leaving now in large part because I know this department, the future of architecture and of design education at UMass is secure. I am retiring now because there are strong, admirable and dedicated people, faculty and staff, alumni and students, whose turn it is to make sure this department and this education remain true to the mission of accessibility, environmental responsibility and great architecture in new and creative ways that have yet to be imagined.”
Kathleen’s parting wish for each of us, of course, a lesson unto itself: “Remain curious, keep asking questions, be creative, pursue your dreams, be open to the possibilities, and the adventures, that come your way.”