Danielle S. Willkens, Assoc. AIA , FRSA
She is an Assistant Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Architecture and a practicing designer, researcher, and educator who is particularly interested in bringing architectural engagement to diverse audiences through interactive projects. Her experiences in practice and research include design/build projects, public installations, and on-site investigations as well as extensive archival work in several countries. As an avid photographer and illustrator, her work has been recognized in the American Institute of Architects National Photography Competition and she has contributed graphics to several exhibitions and publications. As an educator, she was recognized as one of two recipients of the 2017-2018 American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)/ Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) New Faculty Teaching Award.
Her research and practice experiences span design/build, early intervention design education, transatlantic studies, and historic site documentation and visualization. She was the Project Manager for the Learning Barge, the University of Virginia’s innovative design/build project for a floating classroom and sustainable field station on the Elizabeth River. The project was funded by grants from the Environmental Protection Agency P3 program, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Vested in the cultivation of 'early intervention' architectural education, she has been working with Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) for several years. She was an Instructor for architecture courses in the Summer Studies program and as Independent Learning Curriculum Developer, she created an original course on architecture for gifted 5th-7th grade students that opened in late 2014. Since 2015, she has served as the curriculum developer and lead instructor for an original 7-week summer session of the eStudies program: Architecture: Reinvention & Design. During her time at Auburn University, Dr. Willkens ran the on-campus architecture summer camps for rising 11th-12th graders (2018-2019) and the Birmingham Design Camp for rising 6th-8th graders (2014-2019), administered through the Auburn’s Youth Program.
Expanding experiences abroad to enrich both teaching and research agendas , she was fortunate to be selected as the 2015 Society of Architectural Historians’ H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow. Between June 2016 and May 2017, she traveled to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Cuba, and Japan to research the impact of tourism on cultural heritage sites; research blog posts can be found here.
Currently, she is working with Auburn University Associate Professor Liu and an interdisciplinary team from the McWhorter School of Building Science, the Department of History, and the Media Production Group on “Walking in the Footsteps of History”, an experimental survey and modeling project to digitally reconstruct the area south of the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the 'Bloody Sunday' events of March 7, 1965. This project is working to record and represent the built environment through the use of 3D LiDAR scans, UAV photogrammetry, and digital modeling. The team was awarded a $50,000 grant 2019 National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant Program to compile a Historic Structures Report on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL.
Her research on ‘The Transatlantic Design Network’ examines the enduring connections of figures, architectural sites, and theories for interpreting the built environment. Largely grounded in primary research and architectural historiography, this project challenges the traditional modes of research dissemination in architectural history by integrating practice-based investigations. Her interests in Jeffersonian architecture were inspired by time as a student and studio instructor at the University of Virginia as well as tenure as an interpreter and researcher at Monticello. After returning to Jefferson’s mountaintop in summer 2018 as a short-term fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, she is developing a manuscript for publication with the University of Virginia Press: The Transatlantic Design Network: Jefferson, Soane, and agents of architectural exchange, 1768-1838 (working title). Thus far, this research has been supported by grants from Auburn University ( two Intramural Grants + College of Architecture, Design and Construction Seed Grants), the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation, the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and, most recently, a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society (APS).
Portfolio available upon request
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