From early on, graduate architecture student Spencer Lippert, Assoc. AIA, has been drawn to understanding how buildings work, how they were made, and trying to envision how both designer and builder thought through the challenge. “My dad and I were designing and building various projects, mostly skateboarding ramps, some small and simple, some more than 5 feet tall, and one modular. that could be taken apart and reconfigured,” said Spencer. “This began my understanding of how different materials are used to create forms and various ways of connecting these materials.”
Spencer, who is in the final year of his Dual Masters of Architecture and Urban Design degree program at Lawrence Technological University (LTU), is the 2021 recipient of MAF’s Kenneth Neumann Design Scholarship.
“Being awarded the Kenneth Neumann Scholarship was a recognition of years of hard work and rigorous study,” said Spencer. “The monetary aspect of the scholarship is greatly valued, and I am truly honored to have been selected by Neumann-Smith as a student they believed was deserving of this award. I will continue to try and excel in my education & professional career.”
The MAF scholarship committee judges noted Spencer’s very creative portfolio and evident professional writing skills among the reasons for selecting him for the scholarship. His portfolio included projects developed as part of his undergraduate studies, ranging from exploratory floor plans and novice renderings, to images of material studies (such as concrete and plaster), and well-developed interior and exterior renderings and diagrams that related to passive design techniques.
”In my degree program at LTU, I enjoy the reality of the work we are doing, and being able to use design to better communities,” Spencer says. “Many of my courses have centered around partnering with real world organizations and doing realistic or actual projects. I also have spent the past three years working within a professional practice (as an architectural designer at MAYOTTEgroup Architects), where I continue to be drawn towards furthering my understanding of the practice of architecture, and how localized projects can have an impact on a larger scale.”
In the future, Spencer plans to pursue opportunities both in education and in practice that focus on community growth, promoting equity, and reducing environmental impact. “One of the things I love most about architecture is being able to use design to advance an organization’s mission, help heal a community through a design process and project, and have the opportunity to give back to an organization or a community that impacted you in the past,” he says.
“To boil it down to one thing – it is about being able to have an impact.”
How does Spencer think architecture enriches life? “I think good architecture enriches our lives by providing beautiful buildings to see, to study, and to inhabit,” he says.
“But I believe great architecture enriches our lives by providing spaces that understand our needs: a well-designed patient room that actually improves recovery time; a common area in a recovery home that makes someone feel comfort; a courtyard in a nursing home that reminds an elder of their home.”
“In these ways, architecture and design can give us something, rather than simply dressing up a skyline.”
Photos, top to bottom: Spencer Lippert; a selection of images from Spencer’s portfolio; and Gehry House (r) in Santa Monica, CA, one of Spencer’s favorite works of architecture (photo courtesy of Architectural Record).