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Kathryn Anthony

Kathryn Anthony

ACSA Distinguished Professor | Recipient of 2021 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education

Should Admissions ever run short of campus tour guides, may we recommend placing a call to the old Architecture Building, home to longtime professor and Illini ambassador Kathryn Anthony.

“Over my nearly four decades at U of I, I’ve had the pleasure to show off our beautiful campus to many visitors from far and wide,” says the longest-serving female faculty member in the history of the UI’s School of Architecture and one of the first women to be promoted to full professor.

A two-degree Cal-Berkeley alumna and this year’s recipient of the American Institute of Architects/Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, Anthony took us for a virtual guided tour of some of her favorite spaces and places on and off campus.

The first spot I’d take a newcomer I wanted to impress

No matter what the weather, the first must-see is a walk all the way around the Quad, followed by a walk through the Illini Union with detours to visit portraits of famous alumni as well as some other lovely architectural spaces: the General Lounge, the Pine Lounge and the Illini Union Art Gallery.

We also take a stroll through the Reading Room in the Main Library — always very impressive. It reminds me of Doe Library at UC Berkeley, where I had spent many hours writing my dissertation.

I also make it a point to showcase the original Architecture Building, built in 1926, celebrating its 95th birthday this year. I just wish we’d give it a birthday party. It’s one of my favorite buildings on campus and where my office, my home away from home, is located.

Here we visit one of our university’s hidden gems: our Temple Buell Architecture Gallery with sculptor Lorado Taft’s plaster cast reproduction of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, depicting scenes from the New Testament. The originals, completed in 1452, are located in Florence, Italy, and are among the city’s most beloved landmarks, a masterpiece of Renaissance art. Another reproduction is found at the entrance to Grace Cathedral atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill.

Also on our tour is the interior of Temple Buell Hall, housing the headquarters of our School of Architecture, Department of Landscape Architecture and Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

We visit the impressive atrium and, if we have time, the Eagle’s Nest, which offers a bird’s eye view of the entire building.

Finally, another one of my favorite must-sees is the atrium of the Business Instructional Facility, one of the greatest architectural spaces on campus, and in my opinion, one of the most successful by far.

Where I went while in town for my job interview

One of my presentations occurred in Room 415 Architecture.

On my first night in Champaign-Urbana, my host, the chair of the faculty search committee, and his family had taken me out to dinner to a popular restaurant in downtown Champaign — The Great Impasta.

At the end of the evening, I received a marriage proposal from his young daughter.

I had to break the news to her that I was already married, so I was unavailable.

Favorite place to teach

For many years, I requested to teach my seminars in Room 102A Architecture, a very light and bright classroom with large south-facing windows.

Even on the darkest days, that room always put us in a good mood.

The one place or space on campus that should never be messed with, no matter how old it gets

I think the Quad is sacred turf. It’s the heart of the campus and ideally should not be tampered with. I’m still not quite sure how the Foreign Languages Building made its way there decades ago, but there it is.

Nonetheless, that said, in my wildest dreams, I can imagine a version of sculptor Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) — in Chicago’s Millennium Park — somewhere either in or near the Quad that could become a new tourist destination, offering fantastic photo ops for students, faculty, local residents and visitors alike, reflecting our campus architecture from multiple perspectives, day and night, all seasons of the year, adding more energy and excitement to our Twin Cities.

The place I can’t wait too see more of once COVID-19 is kicked

I’ve visited Venice five times but haven’t been there in several years. It’s one of my favorite places in the world — a Mecca for music, art, architecture, history, a walker’s paradise that transports you to another era.

Being of Greek heritage, I’ve also been fortunate to visit Greece 10 times. I’d like to return to the Greek islands, any time but summer to avoid the crowds. My favorite visits to Greece have been off-season, especially during the month of November.

Favorite section of a campus library

I always enjoy our Ricker Library of Art and Architecture, as well as the Reading Room in the Main Library.

Favorite place to grab a bite to eat

I’ve always liked Timpone’s. Their cheese pizza is one of my favorites, very tasty and nicely spiced. Add to that their Caesar salad with a delicious dressing.

Favorite place without walls

I love the gardens and pond surrounding Japan House. This fall, I walked there several times a week to photograph the same spots and document the changing seasons.

Although autumn arrived very late this year, once the leaves started turning, every day was more spectacular than the one before. The Japanese Tea Garden was totally ablaze, truly a sight to behold.