A visiting critic at any architecture school has the responsibility of conveying new ideas, emphasizing individual students' capabilities to create and reinforce the basic skills needed to be a designer.
Merrill Elam fulfills all these requirements and more.
Elam's current seven-week stay for the Level II Graduate Design Studio at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture has been in the making since October 1997.
Using an endowment from developer and college namesake Hines, Dean Bruce Webb and professors John Perry and Drexel Turner managed to snatch Elam away from the bustling Atlanta firm Scogin, Elam and Bray Architects for two days a week.
"It's a firm that's doing a lot of original work that's based on keen insights about situations that buildings go into and how they address those issues in a fresh and authentic way," Webb said of the firm.
"I think people who have the experience of producing work like that have something to offer."
Although her primary interests center around practicing architecture, academia is nothing new to Elam. Her résumé includes time spent with students from the University of Virginia, Rice University, Harvard University and Ohio State University.
Elam recognizes the distinctions between architecture