Bouchard wins national teaching award

And the 2018 award for “demonstrated excellence in teaching performance during the formative years of an architectural teaching career” goes to Nikole Bouchard, assistant professor in the School of Architecture & Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture announced the winners of its annual architectural education awards in February. ACSA members will honor Bouchard and fellow awardees at the association’s 107th annual conference in Pittsburgh March 28-30.

A teacher and several students look at a numerous sketches attached to a wall.
Nikole Bouchard (center, in stripes) works with students in a studio class at UWM. (UWM Photo/Troye Fox)

ACSA teaching award-winners “inspire and challenge students,” the association said.

According to colleagues in the department of architecture, Bouchard made an immediate impression on the school’s graduate and undergraduate students when she arrived at UWM in 2014 from Syracuse University. By fall of 2015, seven thesis and three undergraduate students had asked to work with Bouchard, in addition to her work with students in studios including: Fundamentals of Architectural Design, From Waste to Wonder and Wet Dreams -Imagineering Freshwater Future Scenarios.

“In all of my courses, despite the type or level, I encourage students to get out of the building and into the city as part of the learning and creativeprocess,” Bouchard said. “This might mean photographing a physical model in Milwaukee’s postindustrial environments, touring foreclosed homes slated for de-construction with WasteCap Resource Solutions or working with Sixteenth Street Community Health Center on planning for the multiyear re-naturalization process of the Kinnickinnic River.”

 With a dual distinguishing role as Wisconsin’s only accredited architecture program and one of the only urban architectural schools in the Midwest, School of Architecture & Urban Planning students, faculty and alumni forge close ties with designers, planners and civic leaders across southeastern Wisconsin.

For Bouchard’s independent study students, this orientation has led to research projects focused on post-industrial cities, foreclosures, urban wood waste and social sustainability. Graduate students in her 2017 Urban Edge Award Seminar participated in workshops on urban vacancy, adaptive re-use, productive landscapes and other topics leading to collaborative design work from the inner harbor of Lake Michigan to the Sixteenth Street corridor spanning Milwaukee’s diverse, historic downtown and south side neighborhoods.

Taken together, these courses and sites are representative of Bouchard’s drive to “instill her high expectations and tenacity for tackling tough and complex design ideas with her students at all levels of the curriculum,” says Mo Zell, chair of the department of architecture. “I have been teaching for almost 20 years and have not come across another faculty member who is more dedicated to her students and the school than Nikole Bouchard.”

Bouchard is the fourth professor in the School of Architecture & Urban Planning to receive the ACSA New Faculty Teaching Award since it was first awarded in 1991.

Additionally, Bouchard has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony (2015), an artist in residence at Baer Art Center in Hofsós, Iceland (2015), and was awarded the Steedman Travel Fellowship Prize from Washington University – an award that took Bouchard to 14 countries and 87 cities worldwide in 2009.

“Amazing things can happen when we step outside of our comfort zones,” said Bouchard. “This is one of my favorite things about teaching and practicing design. This might mean making physical models with materials and methods we’ve never worked with, using digital technologies we’ve never touched or chatting with a stranger on the street during a site visit.”

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