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2017 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards

Ian Caine

Ian Caine


Ian Caine, an assistant professor of architecture at UTSA, is one of four UTSA faculty members selected to receive the 2017 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award from The University of Texas System.

A registered architect and urban designer, Caine’s path into academia has been a non-traditional one. Before joining the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning (CACP) in the fall of 2012, he practiced architecture while teaching design studios at Washington University in St. Louis. More than a decade of professional practice allows him to present students with a broad and deep view of contemporary architectural and urban issues. Caine’s teaching and research examine the form, processes, and impacts of suburban and megaregional expansion. He and his students often focus on the metropolitan landscape of San Antonio, which together with Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston comprise the three legs in the Texas Triangle. This rapidly expanding megaregion will add another ten million people in the next four decades, a scenario that will challenge inhabitants to balance the benefits of economic development with ecological sustainability.

“I’ve made a concerted effort to align my teaching, research, and design efforts, believing that the confluence propels my students and me to more substantial and integrated academic results,” said Caine. “To accomplish this, I introduce research methods early in the semester, prompting students to expand their knowledge base before generating architectural proposals. I am also deeply committed to increasing discourse both inside and outside the classroom, believing this maximizes the larger relevance and impact of our work.”

Caine’s commitment to public discourse manifests itself in the structure of his courses. During the past ten semesters, his students have generated or contributed to more than a dozen public exhibitions; received extensive press coverage from outlets including the New York Times, Texas Public Radio, Texas Monthly, and the San Antonio Express-News; submitted dozens of entries to international blind peer-reviewed competitions; presented three projects as a peer-reviewed research conference; and won a design award from the AIA San Antonio Chapter. Caine also initiated a collaboration with the Spatial History Project at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, an effort that is now engaging undergraduate students from both universities.

Each semester Caine challenges his students with a different site and program. In a recent series of studio collaborations with Dr. Rahman Azari, students submitted their final projects to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Technology and the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Competition for Students, a prestigious national design competition that recognizes sustainable design at the highest level. The 2015 and 2016 UTSA studios both produced winning entries in the competition, which selects ten winners each year from hundreds of entries. Additionally, the national think-tank Architecture 2030 included Caine and Azari’s studio curriculum in its 2016 Pilot Curriculum Project, applauding it as one of seven nationwide that “transform the culture of sustainable design education.”

“Instead of standing behind your work and presenting to him, Professor Caine asks you to sit next to him and analyze the work with him,” said former student Mitchell Crossey. “When asked why he critiqued in this way, he responded, ‘If we both step back from it and analyze it together, not as professor and student but rather as peers, we can critique the work for what it is.’ His style of teaching is what brought me back my senior year.”
In addition to being awarded the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, Caine has received a considerable list of awards in recent years. In February of 2017, he received the 2016-17 New Faculty Teaching Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architectureand the American Institute of Architecture Students. The award recognizes demonstrated excellence in teaching performance during the formative years of an architectural teaching career and is awarded to a maximum of three architectural faculty nationally each year. Caine has also received a 2017 Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research, a 2016 UTSA President’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and was a co-winner (with Dr. Rahman Azari) of the 2016 UTSA CACP Dean’s Outstanding Teaching Award.


Story by Nicole Chavez, CACP