Ted Szostkowski

AIA

Principal | Director of Higher Education Studio

At SMMA

  • Provides planning, design, and strategic leadership for higher education clients 
  • Applies his three decades of experience designing for prominent institutions, including Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, Princeton University, The Ohio State University, and Georgetown University, to his work with SMMA teams
  • Mentors young architects on career development, design, and community
  • Researches best practices and successful learning environments that meet the needs and diverse learning styles of 21st century university students

A Letter from Ukraine – and the Power of Language

On a Friday afternoon at Kallmann McKinnell and Wood Architects, Ted received a letter from a former client—the president of Ukrainian Catholic University. He was seeking help in developing an institution capable of educating and inspiring the next generation of ethically grounded leaders for their newly democratic country. They agreed to set up a video conference call, to share ideas and discuss next steps.

Just as the interview was starting, a power failure forced Ted and Michael McKinnell to host a pure conversation, without images or words on a screen, about architecture and the future of the institution. “We felt the weight of every word spoken,” Ted recalls. “Everything spoken on both sides had to move through dual translations. Without images, we needed to paint with words”. 

In a room lined with photographic tributes to the victims of the Gulag, many of them poets imprisoned and murdered for their outspoken views on Stalin’s authoritarian regime, the words began to flow in a rhythm of understanding and mutual idea generation. “It was a powerful and unexpected exchange, and the experience changed my perspective on client conversations,” Ted says.

 

“The client was seeking help in developing a university that would educate and inspire the next generation of ethically grounded leaders for their newly democratic country.”

Always a Teacher

Ted began his career as a teacher with the Urban Teacher Corps in Chicago. Although he went on to earn a Master of Architecture degree, and later take on the position of president at legendary design firm Kallmann McKinnell and Wood Architects, Ted never lost his love of teaching. He has served as both an instructor and critic at the Boston Architectural College, and regularly lectures at architecture schools at MIT, Harvard, Roger Williams University, and the University of Colorado.