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Jonathon Ammon, MArch ’11

Phoenix, Arizona

Founder, JammonStudios

Future Architect/Leader,

I empathize with the anxiety and apprehensions you currently face. A tough deck of cards—a fact of life right now. You've completed an incredibly rigorous program that has primed you for limitless opportunity. Head high, I am excited for you!

Our class graduated in 2011, also a concerning time. My takeaways and suggestions:

Become an ACE in as many softwares as you possibly can (Revit, Navisworks, anything to enable the Architect/Engineer & Builder to more effectively collaborate).

Proficiency and fluency in software does NOT corner you into a specific type of work or production role. It is YOUR responsibility to navigate the circumstances of your passions, career, and positions you will take.

Acquaint yourself with the funding sources for the market sectors in our economy and more specifically, from WHERE will those funding sources originate. This will yield an understanding of where future architectural opportunities exist (for example, medical versus retail).


Georgia Binnington, AB ’63 (Art History and Archaeology)

Georgia Binnington, AB ’63 (Art History and Archaeology)

St. Louis, Missouri

You won't see me like this this year ... but I am so proud of you. You have succeeded. Come back and say hello ... any time.

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Will Bloomer, MArch ’14


Associate, David Baker Architects

Don't fret, 2020. Challenges present unique opportunities for design! You are all now equipped to help and to make the world a better, more efficient, and more equitable place for all. Consider this time a call for action!

Be proud, be patient, and congratulations! I am excited to see your contributions start to take root!

Bernard Bortnick, FAIA, BS ’60 (Architecture)

Bernard Bortnick, FAIA, BS ’60 (Architecture)

Dallas, Texas

Congratulations on your having achieved the status of graduate. I know from my own experience way back in 1960 that it was an arduous goal. At that time, the "inmates" of Givens were struggling to complete their thesis projects including multiple "all-nighters" but miraculously most everyone managed to put together the necessary documentation to finish. At the time, the technology was T-squares, triangles, pen and ink, handmade models, as opposed to the highly computerized processes you currently use. Now, you can be confident that you have received the most advanced tools to enable you to enter professional practice that Washington University and your seasoned professorial staff have enabled. Best wishes for you and your potential contribution to the field of architecture.

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Shuai Cao, MArch ’14

Seattle, Washington

Dear Class of 2020,

I have been in mostly "stay home" life since January this year because of the challenging time. My biggest take away from it is that we can't be isolated by physical distance or barrier; we are eager to connect with others. And nothing could be more cheerful than getting a greeting from a friend or family living far everyday. Please stay strong and support your loved ones, as well as yourself. At the end of the crisis, we will be even closer to each than anytime before.

I'm proud to be a graduate from Sam Fox School, and my friends and professors since then have always been supporting me in many situations. Same to all of you! I will be here if you need any help.

Best wishes and congratulations to your coming graduation!

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Samantha Caplan, BA ’06 (Architecture)


My graduating class ('06) entered the job market during a recession that hit the field of architecture particularly hard. Luckily, our design education at WashU was so well rounded and process-based that it prepared us to enter an uncertain market with skills and perspectives students from other universities didn't have. And while my class did have a graduation ceremony, when you remember or draw on you time at WashU, a sweltering day wearing a black polyester robe to mark your accomplishment isn't what will be important to your success. It's what you will do with your education that matters. So congratulations, Class of 2020. What will help you through this and will make you successful after this you already carry with you.

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Anonymous, Class of 1973, BA ’73 (Architecture), MArch ’76

Architecture grad '73 and '76: recession, stagflation, and no federal attempt to help the economy. Typical job interview back then: "WashU? Where is that? Can you draft?"

Be imaginative in the job hunt and continue the hard work WashU required, especially in design history and delineation. Architecture is about selling/telling stories through recognizable, dependable, and clear technical delineations. Rewards come from providing clients and employers more than they expect.

My early experience had a different kind of wild client, but imagine the opportunity if Joe Exotic or one of the other zoo owners in Tiger King was your client. First, work out a few programmatic items with animal rights, then provide for them the same respect, competence, creative design, and documentation you will later provide to any other individual, corporate, or institutional client. Have an engaged attitude.

Remember to provide good memories for the benefit of the WashU grads that will follow.

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Anonymous, Class of 1987, MArch ’87

I can relate to where you are and your thoughts of uncertainty. Here are some of the adages that I hold dear to my psyche to keep my momentum going forward:

1) Necessity is the mother of invention.

2) When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

3) Think outside the box.

I lost a couple positions at firms due to recessions. My dad happened to be an inventor, so I helped him with an idea during a recession and, admittedly, was subsequently surprised to find my name on a U.S. patent. All I thought I had done was present my drawing to Dad's patent attorney.

Today, the son of my father's patent attorney is my patent attorney. My ideas are the practical result of working at projects, mostly adapting to my environment. One of my inventions came directly from remembering a STRUCTURES class discussion. Resultantly, 30 years later, a simple, revolutionary idea was sparked. Look around your space, details are begging for improvement. Believe in yourself. Good luck!

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Anonymous, Class of 1998, BA ’98 (Architecture)

New York, New York

I live in New York City and have been told one of the epicenters of COVID-19. Although I am homebound now and will be for some time, my open window supplies the laughs of children playing. Be it in their secured backyards, it is a comfort. It makes me smile when often we do not these days. Birds chirp, kids laugh, I have turned off CNN. A new generation is starting despite this little hiccup, and we have a chance for a fresh start. Breath, relax, and look forward to the challenges you will have to face. If not for yourself, then for all of us. Cherish your education: It is so important.

We will all have to make changes in our lives, and I am confident that you will make the right ones. I am counting on it. Congratulations! We will be able to celebrate together soon. Until then, listen out your window, and you will hear the future: It is yours to define.

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Anonymous, Class of 2002, MArch ’02

We are living in unprecedented times, but it won't last forever. Who will you be after? A ceremony has never defined who we are. What defines who we are is what we do with challenges. You have the advantage of great intellect combined with creativity. You can imagine a world, a space, that no one else yet sees, and what you create will shape our world for centuries. Don't let this time get you down. Use it to see a better world that only you can.

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

Anonymous, Class of 2012, BS ’12 (Architecture)

Anonymous, Class of 2012, BS ’12 (Architecture)

A time of crisis is an important time to reflect on your values and goals. Take this opportunity to look inwards. Nothing is more valuable than knowing where you stand and where you are headed.

Remember to give kindness to yourself! And always give kindness to others. Let kindness permeate all that you do.

When faced with difficulty and stress, remember there is always a different way. Recognize that everything can change and takes time to change, sometimes a very long time.

Learn from every step along the way. Nothing you do is futile, especially those that seem decidedly useless or routine. Be open-minded and look harder. There's always something more.

Life can be challenging, but you are never alone! Don't be afraid to ask for help, and try to help others. Bring out the courage in yourself, and all problems will eventually pass.

You have a long bright journey ahead of you. This is just one small step. Think long-term and don't forget the present. I sincerely wish you the very best!

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Robert Dannenbrink, FAICP, AIA, BA ’59 (Architecture)

Irvine, California

Principal, Dannenbrink Design & Planning; Independent Consultant

Be patient, you have plenty of time to do a few significant works in your careers!! I would never have imagined that I would have had all the career work opportunities!!

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Bernard Deffet, BA ’85 (Architecture)

Liege, Wallonia, Belgium

Architect and Founding Partner, Baumans-Deffet Architecture & Urbanism

Dear future graduates,

Specific life circumstances brought me from Belgium to St. Louis in the mid 1980s. I graduated from WashU in 1985 (BA in Architecture). I then received my master's degree from MIT. Back to WashU in 1999 to receive the young alumni award. What a chance! I live, work, and teach in Liege, Belgium (French speaking).

My message to you would be:
- Be grateful. Graduating from such a fine institution is a real advantage in life.
- You have chosen one of the most beautiful, fantastic, challenging, difficult disciplines (architecture). It will be a lifetime investment, and it will take a while before you take hold of the privilege (and the responsibility) it generates. Do not worry. Architecture is a slow adventure.
- Please, never give up. Build!
- Be careful of the environment, and take good measure of the social impact of your spatial decisions.
- This global world needs to find a new balance. Cultivating multiple local conditions will be your challenge.

Best to all!

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Jared Della Valle, MArch ’96, MCM ’96

Brooklyn, New York

CEO, Alloy

After many hours and sleepless nights learning to design buildings, spaces, and cities, it's now time to focus on designing your career. The education I received at WashU prepared me for life well beyond the corners of the profession. It's time to leverage your imagination and confidence to define your own outcome. Survival instigates entrepreneurship, and now is the time to revel in the opportunity in front of you. Spend your time wisely, invest in yourself, and take risks. At the end of the day, luck is a skill.

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Neal Edward Downing, AIA, BA ’82 (Architecture)

Bowling Green, Kentucky

CONGRATULATIONS on your achievements, especially in these challenging times. Be mindful of Dr. Martin Luther King's remarkable insight on adversity: "If not for the wind in our face, we would be unable to fly." I say, live your dreams and soar to the edge of your ambitions. You are our future. Be well and make us proud.

Neal Downing, AIA
Class of 1982

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Jonathan Fischel, BA ’73 (Architecture)

Washington, D.C.

Director, Shalom Baranes Associates

Greeting, WashU 2020 Classes. My career has seen many changes in the world, from graduation in 1973 to today. As a freshman 50 years ago in April 1970, in the Quad on the 1st Earth Day, I listened to Pete Seeger sing. He inspired us and continued to advocate for the environment for the rest of his life.

Today you face, along with much of the world and especially our country, challenges to your health, your professional future, your livelihood. Our hearts go out to you during this unworldly time in your lives, when the present seems stolen, and the future is murky. When participation in a physical graduation ceremony is taken away. We applaud your perseverance and extend a hand to provide support, advice, or simply share thoughts. You are the future, know we believe in you: your dreams, drive, and determination. Society needs your engagement, voice, and contributions. Pursue what you love, search out challenges, get involved. Get licensed. Give back. And welcome to the profession!

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Eric Gilbert

St. Louis, Missouri

CEO, Anova Furnishings

Congratulations to the 2020 Graduating MLA Class of the Sam Fox School of Art & Design.

At its roots, your chosen profession is about problem solving, and you are now fully equipped to help make our world a better place at a time when it absolutely needs it. I hope you are sincerely proud of the skills you've gained and the accomplishments you've attained through this rigorous program. From what I've seen, entering your profession with a degree from this school positions you uniquely to blend the art and science of design. You will bring disparate sets of ideas together into amazing unified landscapes and experiences for countless members of our society. We're all lucky to have you out in the professional world making an impact. I can't wait to see the improvements your class brings our world in the coming decades!!

With Deep Respect and Admiration,

Eric Gilbert

Alan Goldberg, BA ’54 (Architecture)

Alan Goldberg, BA ’54 (Architecture)

New Canaan, Connecticut

Architecture is a profession that can be practiced well into your 80s and beyond. We were taught to believe that tomorrow would be better than today. So think of the coronavirus as a terrifying epic storm that, although seemingly bleak and hopeless, can build character, making you a stronger, more caring, and thoughtful person. That was my experience when my architectural career was interrupted after graduation, and I was drafted into the army to serve two years in the Korean War.

The architecture curriculum is fraught with creative and physical challenges. If you made it to graduation, you probably have what it takes to be an architect. It's a long journey, but one you will never regret taking.

Alan Eliot Goldberg BA '54

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Geoff Graff, MArch ’04

On the occasion of my WashU commencement, I recall Peter MacKeith noting the inherently optimistic nature of the practice of architecture.
This fundamental characteristic of what we do is good to reflect on under normal circumstances, and I hope it can resonate for you in these challenging times as well. Architecture always has the potential to make a positive contribution. Our work seeking to manifest that potential takes intent and commitment, but it is literally crafting things to be better.

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Valerie Greer, MArch ’02

To the Class of 2020, congratulations! An old Irish blessing and prayer sums up our wishes for you:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.

Welcome to the distinguished privilege of calling yourself an alumni of Washington University!

Jeff and Valerie Greer (MArch 2002) + Isla Greer (WU Cub Bear)

Pierre-Henri Hoppenot, BA ’09 (Architecture); MArch ’12

Pierre-Henri Hoppenot, BA ’09 (Architecture); MArch ’12

Brooklyn, New York

Founder, Studio PHH Architects

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Maybe not in this case but I believe this moment affords us a chance to re-evaluate our goals and to gain the perspective required for happiness and success; a rare break in the rat race that most graduating seniors from a top school like Wash U (me included) are likely to join.

Spend the free time that is forced upon each of us by this event to focus on what does make you stronger. For me these are as follows and each is actionable:

  1. Strengthen the relationships made over the last several years and remember that each plays a critical yet often unpredictable role in our lives.
  2. Write down life goals: create "mantras" that allow you to look back at the past and look forward to your future with certainty that you are working towards the goals you wanted for yourself.
  3. Giving is the most rewarding, and the rewards come in many forms. The world is big and we are in this together.
  4. Invest in knowledge. Your head is your greatest asset.
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Casey Hyland, BA ’95 (Architecture)

Louisville, Kentucky

"If there is no happy ending, make one out of cookie dough."
—Cooper Edens

As a father with twins graduating high school this spring, I very much sympathize with the absurdity that you may be feeling. Cooper Edens was shared by my favorite instructor, Sheldon Helfman, a color theorist at the Sam Fox School. I used many of Eden's illustrations in my presentations. Though I enjoyed critiques as much as anyone, it is my instructors/critics that I remember: Laura Miller, Richard Sommer, Adrian Luchini, James Harrison, Bob Hansman, Ian Frazier, Udo Kultermann, and Dean Michaelides. Even as a hot glassmaker, I lean on their lessons everyday. I am so very happy that they are a part of my story. Fortunately, you have much time for designing and making. Givens Hall is a magical place with magical people. And who doesn't like cookies?

Casey Hyland, Class of 1995

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Donald Kaliszewski, MArch ’83

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Partner, 1/1 Studio

Dear Class of 2020,

I can only imagine how disheartening it must be for you to have your final semester and graduation festivities so abruptly cut short in these unprecedented times. And I am sorry for your loss. Please take comfort in knowing that it always feels too soon to leave the Washington University community, regardless of circumstance.

Let me have the honor of being one of the first to welcome you to the community of architecture and the fine arts. You have earned a place in this community by virtue of your dedication and talent. I heartily and sincerely congratulate you.

Having graduated during a recession myself, I know the world can look dauntingly difficult right now. No doubt you will doubt yourself. But know that you have the talent and the education to succeed. Hold your beliefs steady in your heart and take action without fear of failing. This is but a brief moment in time. It just so happens it is your time. There is much to be done!

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Stephen Kim, MArch ’11

Seattle, Washington

Associate, SKB Architects

I graduated at the end of 2011 when the global economy began to recover from the Great Recession of 2008. Design services and construction were still impacted, and layoffs were all too common to be considered news. It was a daunting time to be graduating since many alumni a year or two ahead had yet to find a job or left the architecture field altogether. And a little more then a decade later, the architecture world is experiencing deja vu.

As someone who survived the 2008 crisis, I say, you will survive, too. Think of bad economical times as a design problem and what ways the architecture industry can be more resilient. Use this opportunity to equip yourself with the learned academic skills because design and critical thinking are tools that can be used beyond the architectural field. Architecture is bigger than what you mind think it is.

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John Kleinschmidt, BA ’08 (Architecture)

New Orleans, Louisiana

Architect & Urban Designer, Waggonner & Ball Architecture/Environment

Hunter S. Thompson once said, "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." There's no doubt that the going is getting weird... but think about how you are prepared for the challenges ahead! Spatial thinking, holistic problem solving, and envisioning a compelling future—these are core skills and practices that you have and the world needs. Normative practices of design will continue to shift in response to global health and climate challenges, and you are well positioned to be right in the middle of it all. Stick with it and think of this all as a "difficult site" that demands ingenious design thinking.

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Mike Konzen, MArch ’86

St. Louis, Missouri

Chairman and Principal, PGAV

To the class of 2020:

You are the future.  That makes you very important to me, and to the world that will soon become yours to shape with your ideas, your talent, and your persistence.

And the world will shape you, too.  You are starting out in unique circumstances, and I greatly regret that you will not have a graduation celebration nor the fortune of a robust job market.  No one would blame you for being a bit discouraged.

But I predict that transcending discouragement will become one of your generations' superpowers. I believe that you will tackle creative challenges with greater determination and energy than we preceding generations.  Perhaps most importantly, your creativity will be fueled by a higher sense of empathy for the challenges of others.  I consider this last trait to be critical in any designer.

Stay close and encourage each other. If I can offer advice, reach out to me:

Be safe, healthy, and successful.  We believe in you.

David Kromm, MArch ’72

David Kromm, MArch ’72

St. Louis, Missouri

President, KRJ Planning and Research

The human race has dealt itself a terrible blow with the coronavirus. My heart goes out to each and every one of you for having this happen at a time that should be of joyful fellowship with classmates.

I have been privileged to see the efforts of Hongxi Yin's class towards completing the entry to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Solar Design Decathlon. Once classes resumed after spring break, we kept communicating with one another in a team relationship through the Internet. This team of architecture and engineering students continued their teamwork and are now, five days before the deadline, nearing completion. Best of luck as you approach the finish line!

It is certain that this is only one example of a class that quickly adjusted to electronic communication only and are making progress towards the finish line and beyond.

David Kromm

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Richard Leaf, BA ’80 (Architecture), MArch ’83

Winchester, Massachusetts

Owner, Leaf Design Associates

I graduated in 1980 from the School of Architecture (and again in 1983 with a master's degree) and was planning to attend our 40th reunion in April. I am so disappointed to not see WashU, as it would have been my first time in 30 years. So I can't imagine the disappointment all of you graduates are feeling, but I do have a few words of ADVICE:
1. Take chances with your life.
2. Take chances with your architecture career.
3. Be bold.
4. Work hard AND play hard.
5. Recognize the key moments in your life—"decision points"—if you can. These are the doors to new phases.
6. Find someone to love, a "partner" to share your life and make decisions with.
7. This is a crazy and surreal time not just for you, but for EVERYONE in the entire world, of any age, and experience in any country. As with all things, this, too, shall pass...
8. When you are on the other side of this experience, go give 'em hell!

Best to all!
Richard Leaf

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Richard Lorch, BA ’77 (Architecture)

London, United Kingdom

My thoughts are with the graduating class of 2020. You graduate into a world that is recognizably more fragile. The key challenge for you (and all of us) is to not revert to business as usual after the pandemic is over.  Instead, we need your knowledge, curiosity, energy, and perseverance to challenge the status quo and create a new normal that protects life and the planet. You have learned to think and we need fresh thinking and new practices to transform our cities, buildings, and lives.


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Erica Loynd, BA ’00 (Architecture)

Seattle, Washington

Principal, DLR Group

CHEERS TO YOU ALL! You are all such strong people, giving up the end of your college experience. Being part of the Class of 2020 under these conditions is going to make you all closer, lifelong friends. More than anyone else will ever understand. You are (hopefully) the only class that will ever have this experience. You are ready to take on the world and prove that this experience has made you a better citizen. You will succeed more than we can imagine. I look forward to you joining our community of design professionals.

Cheers to you and may your successes start immediately. Travel together often and far. Take the world by storm, and show them you are the best to come in.

Similar to when a child is born early, "And though she be but little, she is fierce," you are sent away from school early, but you are going to succeed more than we can imagine.
Congrats and best wishes to you,

Andrew Malick, MArch/MUD ’09

Andrew Malick, MArch/MUD ’09

San Diego, California

President & CEO, Malick Infill Corp

I graduated with two master's degrees from WashU in 2009. With job prospects non-existent, I was forced to find my own way. Having invested years in my professional development, I wasn't willing to give up on architecture and urban design as a career path. More than 10 years later, I look back at my situation at graduation and am grateful I graduated during a recession. I now have my own design and development company. Had I been given a job out of school, I likely wouldn't have chosen this path. Remember, put yourself in a place where you have no option but to succeed, and you will surpass your expectations.

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Chris Manzo, BA ’90 (Architecture)

Louisville, Kentucky

Principal, SNDBX Design and Architecture

Greetings and well wishes!

Liz and I will sorely miss seeing you all this April at Reunion. WashU holds a special place in our hearts—not only for the nurturing of a lifelong curiosity about the world, but for providing the opportunity for us to meet and be together! Having met at our 20th, we were greatly looking forward to reconnecting with you all here on our 30th! This year leadership and safety take precedence over our desire to gather.  Please be safe with each of your families as we weather the COVID pandemic (#HealthyAtHome). We will get through this together. VERY much looking forward to the next available opportunity to meet up and reconnect! Be safe and well.

John P. Margolis, AIA, BA ’82 (Architecture)

John P. Margolis, AIA, BA ’82 (Architecture)

Santa Barbara, California

Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

While these are turbulent times, may your creativity and passion long outlive this pandemic. You have been well prepared by the Washington University Family and represent excellence at all levels.

Best wishes and may you soar in the weeks and months ahead!

With admiration and accolades,

John P. Margolis, AIA

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Nahoum Matsas, BA ’73 (Architecture), MArch ’76

Fellow Alumni,

You are really graduating under very harsh conditions. But my message to you is to try and place the crucial situation you are experiencing in a broader perspective. Almost the entire human world as we know it is experiencing the same harsh conditions. Think that you are living in one of the richest countries of the world, and you have better chances to overcome this menace compared to people in very poor countries. Be grateful for having acquired good quality education in a distinguished school and have been given the skills to overcome difficulties and challenges. Have confidence in yourselves but be modest. And every time you may face a difficult situation like the one we are going through, fight and always think that things could have been worse.

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Howard Mock, MArch ’76

Chicago, Illinois

Owner, mphpm design

Dear Graduates,

As an alum, I am with you in your challenge to graduate without pomp and circumstance. The real benefit of student life and education are the experiences, and the application and continued flowering of those into new beginnings. So while I cannot imagine your emotions during these trying times, the proud achievement of completion of your studies even without public celebration is recognized by those of us who proceeded you.

Best of luck to all,

Howard Mock - Chicago
Founder mphpmdesign
BA 1974, MArch 1976

James Morgan, MArch ’11

James Morgan, MArch ’11

Austin, Texas

Go Bears! Rawrr!
If you have any free time in this once-in-a-generation situation, do whatever you can to address the issue of student loan forgiveness; that is the true fight of our generation. There were a bunch of us who graduated during the last recession, and we have turned out ok. Well, turned out ok, meaning we could all at least afford a trip back to St Louis in 2018.

Just remember that, as artists and architects, we use our creativity best when in context. So use the knowledge the faculty has shared and the skills and resources the Sam Fox School has provided, and go forth! Go forth in this unique context. Pencils Down!


Nancy (Forgy) Mullen, BA ’78 (Architecture)

Nancy (Forgy) Mullen, BA ’78 (Architecture)


My dad, my cousin, and I were all architecture grads from WashU. John Forgy became a partner of the Wittenberg, Deloney, and Davidson firm in Arkansas. I worked for his and another firm, Modulation Designs in Massachusetts. Later, I went another direction and homeschooled my sons for 13 years.  Afterwards, I had a construction-related job I enjoyed very much. Allison Conley is currently leading the design team of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture for the Al Wasl Plaza, the center of the Dubai Expo 2020 masterplan.  I also didn't get to attend my graduation ceremony.  A little sad but there were exciting days ahead with my new job.  Also, WashU's excellent training and reputation still remained with me.  Congratulations.

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Michael Offerman, BA ’12 (Architecture), MBA ’13 (Brand Strategy)

Strategy Director, Redscout

Class of 2020:

You are entering a wild world, and while it may seen daunting, I'd argue you are better prepared for it than many of your peers who studied in other fields. A design background has taught you how to think laterally, solve problems from many angles, and find elegant solutions to challenging contexts.

This isn't going to be an easy few months, but have the confidence in your own creativity—both in the work you create and your approach to finding your next challenge. Know that you have the support of the Sam Fox network at your back.

Go try something crazy and take some career risks in the midst of this uncertainty. You'll undoubtably make something brilliant out of it!

Xopher Pollard, BFA ’05 (Sculpture, Film and Media Studies), MArch ’05 (Industrial and Office Architecture)

Xopher Pollard, BFA ’05 (Sculpture, Film and Media Studies), MArch ’05 (Industrial and Office Architecture)

Chicago, Illinois

Project Architect, Heitman Architects Inc.

Class of 2020, I'm mourning with you. My 15th reunion was also canceled this year, but building community with you is one way to reclaim what I lost. My BFA is in Sculpture & Film + Media Studies, & I also have a Master's of Architecture, so I love connecting with all Sam Fox students.

I know well wishes will only go so far in a time like this, so I'm going to try to give some really practical advice.

* Put photos of campus/classmates on your many screens, cuz visuals communicate!  (I jazzed up my work-from-home monitors & love it.)

* Make sure to update WashU with your current/next address and contact info. This is the best way to connect with the WONDERFUL & SUPPORTIVE alumni community.  We will be more eager to help you than ever.

* Use the Career Center.  (One of my biggest fails!)

* See if there's an alumni professionals network in your area, great networking.

* Join professional organizations, some are free to start.

* Use all your resources & ask for help without shame!

Kenneth K Y Poon, MArch ’06

Kenneth K Y Poon, MArch ’06

Hong Kong

Chairman, Philia Earth Limited

Dear Class of 2020,

This is a challenging year to graduate as our world faces a global pandemic of COVID-19. As architecture graduates, you have the talents and trainings to imagine and create spaces. The world requires architects who are able to think more creatively in re-imagining spatial environments to meet the paradigm shift of the way people work and live in the 21st Century. Climate change and un-equal development in the built environment require a lot of collaborative efforts to push the boundary of green architecture. In a difficult time like this, ask yourself what you can do to utilize your talents and trainings to create a healthier and greener built environment. I hope in the next decades you will be able to look back and take pride in your contributions to make our world a better place to live.


Kenneth K.Y. Poon
Chairman of Philia Earth Limited

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Erin Que, BA ’08 (Architecture)

St. Paul, Minnesota

Sr. Architectual Historian, 106 Group

Keep dreaming and keep making—you are creative problem-solvers, and you will change our world! As you enter the workforce, your first job may not be what you planned, but make the most of it. Each job will prepare you for the next one. Make time to create and connect. You never know where it may lead you. I've run into WashU alumni everywhere, whether on vacation and at the Y. We're here to support you, we're proud of you, and we can't wait to see what you'll do next!

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Megan Riera, BA ’84 (Architecture)

Los Angeles, California

Fine Artist, Designer, Architect

OK, so probably you are sensing that it won't be so easy for you. It was honestly already tricky to transfer from the grueling-but-exciting realm of school to the "work" world of architecture, but it is going to be harder for you. Yup. Jobs will be harder to come by, and there is so much general uncertainty. Recessions are lousy.

That said, you are prepared. You are creative, thoughtful, energetic, unbelievably hardworking, and adaptive problem-solvers. Washington University helped make you all that.

Try to be problem-seers. When you can spot something, you can name it, break it down, and find things to handle, to fix, to make better, to make fantastic. You won't be able to fix it all, so be patient. Be patient and kind with others. On kindness, some of you will have or find privilege in engaging work right away. For others of you, it will take longer. Don't boast, because it is obnoxious, and don't be envious, because it is toxic. Be there for each other, encourage each other. Go forth!

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Patricia Sanchez de Andrei, MArch ’11

St. Louis, Missouri

Architect, Christner Architects

Class of 2020—CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve accomplished so much, and I am proud of you.

We are here for you and celebrate you despite these difficult times. It’s unfortunate that we cannot be together in person to celebrate you, but your accomplishments do not go unnoticed. To complete this prestigious degree, you had to have a lot of resilience, endurance, and perseverance—all skills necessary now and throughout your career. Starting your careers this way is not ideal, obviously, but your Sam Fox community is here for you. Those of you still in St. Louis, do not hesitate to contact me for anything. If I can’t help, I can find someone who will. The design community is very tight, and we have each other’s back. You’re our colleagues now and know that we have your back, too.

Much love to the Class of 2020.  Wishing you continued strength.

Patricia Sanchez de Andrei, AIA, EDAC
MArch, Class of 2011

Stephen Saunders, BA ’72 (Architecture)

Stephen Saunders, BA ’72 (Architecture)

Chicago, Illinois


Fellow Architects, it's a scary time to be graduating, but remember the world has survived World Wars, 9/11, and Pandemics (1957-58) and returned with vigor and innovation to build the next generation. If your immediate fear is finding a job, then you will be tested on your ability to improvise and persevere; both are qualities that will serve you well and may not have come your way in normal times. There is value in struggling, and you will find determination that you didn't know you had. When I graduated, I felt lost and frightened: it was 1972, the Vietnam War was raging, with social unrest and riots on college campuses, my Father had recently died, two of my best friends had also died within weeks of graduation, and I was carrying college debt. I tried in vain to find a job in St. Louis, but never even got an interview. Alas, I moved back home to Little Rock, a choice of last resort. Within 18 months, I moved to Chicago, went to work for SOM, and later founded a firm that grew to 50 people.


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Dale Schilke, MArch ’09, MCM ’09 (Construction Management)


Dear Graduating Class of 2020,

Though it might seem like this is not fair or you ask yourself why us, why our class?, just remember you are stronger and more resilient than you know. You're graduating during this troubling time will not be lost on your family, friends, colleagues, or future employers. It certainly is not lost on me. As a fellow alumnus, I know how committed each one of you are, and I have no doubt you will succeed in all your endeavors!

Blessings and Godspeed, Sam Fox School Class of 2020!

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Sharad Sheth, MArch ’73

Gujarat, India

Good morning, young graduates! I am living and working as an architect-sculptor-educator at Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Like you all, we are also facing very difficult days. Unlike your country, which is advanced and has a literate and economically stable population, we are far from it, and most of our population are not aware of the grim situation around the world. So please try and understand that you are slightly better off and wait for your glorious rewarding days. The wait will provide you enough time and energy to work  creatively for a better, safer world!

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Shannon Slade, BS ’15 (Architecture)

Congrats Class of 2020!! Happy for you and proud of you, and hope you have a wonderful graduation day.

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Chad Smith, BA ’93 (Architecture)

New York, New York

Owner, Smith & Architects

Whatever you do, trust your artistic instincts.  They're the one thing you have that no one else has, and over the course of your career, they'll take you a great many places.

Eli Sokol, BA ’12 (Architecture)

Eli Sokol, BA ’12 (Architecture)


Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

This has been a challenging few months for everyone, I am sure. Interestingly, the thing that has brought me the most comfort and calm these days has been to reopen my sketchbook and draw. I've been doing this far more than any other time since when I was at Sam Fox, and it brings me a lot of pleasure. Many times that I pick up the pen, I think of different moments from school where I was taught a certain technique and think how cool it is that moments like that have had a lasting impact on my abilities.

No matter what happens going forward, embrace the lessons you've learned and passion you've found in school. It can help you in unexpected ways!

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Ana Stein, MArch ’94


To the Class of 2020,

I know in this crazy time, it's challenging to stay committed, hopeful, and positive. Take a deep breath and know that we are your biggest cheerleaders, so go ahead and dream big. Dream forward.

Create a new tomorrow with what you learned today. Remember that your footprint will matter greatly and impact all aspects of our social, emotional, and built environment, so make your mark and make it count.

Congratulations to the Washington University Class of 2020!