Distinguished Career of U of I Professor Influences Generations of Ecologically-Minded Designers
Bruce Haglund has a storied career in sustainability, culminating with the 2020 American Solar Energy Society’s Leadership in Solar Architecture and Design Award, which he received for his leadership in the field and for influencing generations of design professionals to advance the profession.
“I’ve been building sustainability into my studio and lecture teaching since 1982,” said Haglund, a distinguished professor of architecture in the University of Idaho’s College of Art and Architecture. “My graduate studies led me to value sustainable architecture as a means of making for a more verdant world. When I began teaching at the U of I in 1982, I really got to put my ideas into motion.”
In 2010, Haglund led students in a project to build the world’s only Daylighted Artificial Sky, a large cone-like structure that helps students design more energy-efficient buildings. The project, which explores the use of daylight to illuminate a consistent sky for testing models, took five years and more than 30 students involved in its design, construction and testing to come to fruition.
“Bruce has mentored so many students during his prolific career,” said Shauna Corry, dean of the College of Art and Architecture. “He has continually helped produce ecologically-minded designers.”
One of the students Haglund mentored was Eric Roberts, president and CEO of Knit (formerly SH Architecture).
“My experience with Bruce was integral to me becoming an architect,” said Roberts, who came to U of I more than 15 years ago as a non-traditional student. “My dream was to be an architect, and I applied for school in both Utah and at U of I and was turned down by both.”
As a last-ditch effort, Roberts and his wife drove to Idaho to find out what he needed to do to get accepted.
“My wife and I got in our four-door Kia and drove to Moscow, following a summer thunderstorm from Boise to northern Idaho,” he said.
Roberts and his wife drove through the night, arriving in Moscow at 3 a.m. They slept in their car and woke at sunrise.
“When the campus was open the next day, I grabbed my portfolio and went over to the architecture building and spoke with the chair at the time, which was Bruce,” Roberts said. “I showed him my portfolio, and he went through it with me page by page and told me what was good and what was lacking. He went through my transcript with me, and after about 90 minutes with him, I had a plan to double major in landscape and architecture at U of I and then get into the architecture program the following year.”
I don’t know that Bruce knows how integral he was to me being an architect and the person I am today and for my career today; you can trace it all back to the crossroads in his office on a summer morning. I don’t know that I would’ve become an architect without having had that encouragement and meeting with him. Eric Roberts
“Bruce really gave me hope,” Roberts said. “Bruce was my first interaction with what it means to be a Vandal – that ‘can do’ attitude. And also, the hospitality of what it is to be at U of I. He made sure that I was encouraged and inspired to continue.”
Roberts and his family made the move to Moscow the following fall, setting him on a career path that currently finds him as the CEO and president of one of the largest architecture firms in Nevada. While at U of I, he double majored in Architecture and Forest Products: Wood Design and minored in Landscape Architecture.
“I don’t know that Bruce knows how integral he was to me being an architect and the person I am today and for my career today; you can trace it all back to the crossroads in his office on a summer morning,” Roberts said. “I don’t know that I would’ve become an architect without having had that encouragement and meeting with him. I’d like to tell him thanks for being who he is and let him know that 90 minutes of his life has meant 15 pretty great years of my life, and hopefully more to follow.”
Because of the impact Haglund made on his career, Roberts’s company recently established the Knit College of Art and Architecture Speaker Series Endowment at U of I. The endowment will support a speaker series to introduce CAA students and the university community to a diverse range of ideas and global perspectives in art and architecture.
“I want to help ensure students have the best experience they can,” said Roberts. “As alumni, if we can give, we should give.”
Roberts said the speaker series was the result of the mentorship he received from Haglund.
“He inspires greatness,” he said.
Article by Kassandra Tuten, University Communications and Marketing
Photos: Submitted photos
Published September 2020.