Poerschke, at left, with a student in graduation garb.

Architecture’s Poerschke wins Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools teaching award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ute Poerschke, the Stuckeman Professor of Advanced Design Studies and a Department of Architecture faculty member in the Stuckeman School, was recently recognized for her excellence in graduate education as the 2020 recipient of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) Master’s Level Graduate Faculty Teaching Award. The award recognizes excellence and creativity with an emphasis on pedagogy, including classroom-based and/or distance learning instruction.

Poerschke, who joined the Department of Architecture in 2006 and served as its Director of Graduate Studies from 2014–2018, was integral in expanding the department’s graduate offerings to include the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, as well as the professional Master of Architecture degree.

She has coordinated and led the “integrative” design studio, which teaches fourth-semester M.Arch. students a comprehensive approach to building design that integrates systems such as building assemblies, structure, environmental systems, energy efficiency, day and artificial lighting, acoustics and life safety systems. She has designed the curriculum of that semester to have two parallel courses, one a six-credit architectural design studio and the other a three-credit seminar on the integration of technical systems, each with its own emphasis yet both concentrating on the same design project. While the architecture studio’s aim is the production of meaning within the built environment, the technical seminar asks how diverse and incongruent building systems — beyond fulfilling requirements for structural soundness, thermal comfort, daylighting and electrical lighting, room acoustic and noise control, and egress — can support that meaning.

“Professor Poerschke’s commitment to teaching and the success of our graduate students is unparalleled,” said Mehrdad Hadighi, head of the Department of Architecture and Stuckeman Chair of Integrative Design. “Her dedication to the graduate program and her innovations in teaching place her above and beyond any faculty with whom I have worked in my 15 years of academic leadership.”

In addition to her teaching and research at Penn State, Poerschke is a licensed architect and licensed urban planner in Germany, an associate member of the American Institute of Architects and a LEED-accredited professional. She is a principal of the firm Friedrich-Poerschke-Zwink Architekten | Stadtplaner in Munich, Germany, and co-editor of the architectural journal Wolkenkuckucksheim | Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.

Founded in 1975, NAGS is one of four regional affiliates of the Council of Graduate Schools and draws institutional membership from the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C. and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. The organization issues two awards to faculty for teaching excellence each year, one at the master’s level and the other at the doctoral level, and one award for mentorship.