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College of Design

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rolf M. Kemen

University of Minnesota - B.LArch '73, BED '74, B.Arch '76
Harvard University - M.Arch '79
New York University - MBA '85

What was the most important thing/skill/concept you learned at the School of Architecture?
The most important learned skill was the development of a process oriented approach to solving design problems and identifying solutions. I applied this process orientation to many different types of non-design problems to generate rational alternatives and optimal solutions.

Who made the most lasting impression (most influenced you) and why?
Design critics as a group. Their focus was to develop the ideas and concepts that you were working on, however rudimentary and poorly conceived, into a rational and well-developed design.

What is your favorite memory from your studio days?
All-nighters. Fun at the time, but realizing today how productivity drops exponentially during all night. Design charrettes helped me develop a more result-oriented work discipline so I could avoid all-nighters during my career.

Please identify one (or more) memorable design project that you worked on while a student at the School of Architecture.
Architectural thesis on the Coca-Cola site on the riverfront in Minneapolis. It has been fun to see the riverfront develop over the past 30 years.

What major forces (such as individual architects, design philosophies, rendering styles, research methods, etc.) do you remember influencing you significantly as a student?
Working in a studio setting. The role of collaborative work and exchange of ideas in a studio setting fosters new concepts and improved strategies for implementation. I have used this experience to my benefit many times throughout my career.

Cite an example (be specific) that illustrates how you used the education you received at the School of Architecture to positively impact (or better) your community, city, nation or the world.
I developed the methodology and analysis that enabled the administration of the Minneapolis Public Schools, after 40 years of trying, to confirm to the Board and the taxpayers of Minneapolis that it was more cost effective to build a new headquarters facility than remain in the four locations that were being used to house HQ functions.

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