A man who sees design in every aspect of his life, Peter MacKeith, was welcomed to the university as the new dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture.
MacKeith, born in Houston, has had an interesting journey to becoming the dean.
He moved to Seattle at the age of 9, as his dad’s employment as a private school educator started to progress, he said. His family’s next stop was Washington D.C., and he later found himself in Virginia for college.
MacKeith attended the University of Virginia to get his undergraduate degree in English and international relations, he said. He completed his master degree in architecture at Yale University.
He moved to Finland in 1990 on a Fulbright Fellowship and lived there for 10 years. His only child, now 21, was born in Finland during that time. MacKeith had the opportunity to work with renowned Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa, according to the NWA Business Journal website.
He was recognized for his contributions to Finnish culture and architecture by the president of Finland with the insignia of Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland, according to the NWA Business Journal website.
The next stop in MacKeith’s career was Washington University in St. Louis. There he worked as a faculty member, assistant dean of architecture and later the associate dean of architecture, according to the website Arkansas Business.
MacKeith said most of his past jobs have been a composite of architecture components, including design practice, education, research, criticism and publication. He said the job is most rewarding and satisfying when all of these parts laminate together.
“The people I admire the most in this field have a composite like this,” he said. “It’s more than a life than it is work.”
He said he’s had a passion for architectural design from the very beginning of his journey.
“I’ve always benefitted from very good teachers and professors,” MacKeith said. “My first lecture in architecture started the transformation.”
He said all that he is now can be attributed to the people in architecture who have taught him or helped him in his past.
“I grew up with my dad in academic leadership,” MacKeith said. “If you’re devoted toward education, you’ll understand you’re most rewarded.”
He said it has been rewarding to work in large enterprises and schools. It has been rich for him to be able to see that his goals and work match the goals of the university.
“It’s all we all hope for,” he said.
MacKeith said he is most excited about the knowledge coming in from quality students in his role as the new dean.
“We used to recruit students to Washington University from here when I worked in St. Louis,” he said. “I know the quality of the students in this program.”
MacKeith also said he is excited for the quality of the faculty he is working with.
“I’ve gotten to know some of them through friendship, and some of them through business conferences,” he said. “They’re very committed to teaching.”
The ambitions of the university and the Fay Jones School were made clear in the first interview, MacKeith said.
All three disciplines of architecture – interior design, architecture and landscape architecture – reside in the same building now.
“The interdisciplinary work is compelling,” he said. “I’m excited to see all the possibilities this provides. The students are ready; they already don’t have any boundaries set for themselves when it comes to their work.”
MacKeith has been recognized nationally for his architectural teaching with two Creative Achievement Awards in architectural education from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in 2007 and 2013, according to the NWA Business Journal website.
In his free time, MacKeith enjoys reading and traveling, but he said all of his interests are those that come associated with education or architecture and design. Whether he’s playing soccer with his friends or making dinner with ingredients he’s bought at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market, he sees design in everything.
“They have interesting similar energies,” he said. “Everything is just another kind of design.”