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design+make appreciates: Eugene Kremer // Jack Booton


“Slowly, ever so slowly at first, and with many setbacks, the strength, self-confidence and reputation of the school grew. Key to that process was – and continues to be – our understanding that we can be, indeed must be, better: an understanding that every success, every advance, must be recognized as a foundation from which to strive for higher achievement.”


The 2014 Heintzelman + Kremer awards take place this Friday, May 9th in the Pierce Commons. As design+make prepares for the final presentation of the year, and our educational careers, we seek to understand and reminisce about the man behind the name: Professor Eugene Kremer, FAIA. 


Born and raised in the other, slightly larger Manhattan, Professor Kremer commanded an impressive résumé prior to his time at Kansas State. Kremer worked under German modernist Ulrich Franzen in New York City. His career then moved into academic scenarios; teaching and lecturing in New York, Philadelphia, Berkeley, Saint Louis, Washington, DC, and London. In 1973, Mr. Kremer assumed the role of Architecture Department Head at Kansas State in his mid thirties. Initially, Kremer and his family thought of the move to the Little Apple as temporary. An occupational stepping stone became the foundation for one of the college’s most influential educators. 


A teacher of teachers, Eugene not only brought talented educators to the college, but guided them in improving their methods. Professor Ray Streeter, who was hired by Mr. Kremer, remembers fondly of the young Department Head’s influence: “Eugene had a clever way of making things happen. He led from behind and the school wouldn’t be what it is today without him.” Kremer worked tirelessly to establish connections to contemporary practice in Kansas City through guest lectures and a major partnership with the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning & Design at UMKC. 


Eugene was a fine teacher, and perhaps an even better administrator. In addition to his leadership at the college, Kremer developed a voice in the public discourse, specifically in regards to professional practice. Bridging the gap between academia and practice was a hallmark of his tenure at Kansas State. Mr. Kremer stresses in section 1.5 of The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, stating: “Architects in practice play vital roles in helping architecture students learn about the profession and the industry in which it operates...Don’t wait for an invitation.”


Listening to colleagues and friends of Eugene Kremer proved a fruitful effort.The reason why his name represents the award for outstanding collaborative design achievements becomes blatantly apparent. It’s because of people like Eugene Kremer that design+make studio exists. It turns out I’m a lover for life stories and history, so, from my own perspective, it’s surreal to imagine if the partnership our college established with UMKC hadn’t occured. What would I be doing if this avenue hadn’t existed? In retrospect, we recognize Mr. Kremer for dedicating his time to create opportunities for thousands of students like us. 


“...I have no doubt that this ethic that has long guided the school will continue to flourish.”


Written by Jack Booton

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