Professor Jeffery S. Poss, FAIA, a design practitioner since 1989, creates places of commemoration, introspection, and meaning that evoke the human spirit‐‐public places that bring people together, or conversely, private spaces that allow people to find refuge in quiet contemplation. Through his design work he strives to articulate values and symbols that express the highest aspirations of our society: projects that act as inspirational models of design and practice both to the students under his tutelage and the people who use them. The intention is to uncover the deeply rooted qualities of specific places, while also engaging universal symbols and archetypal meanings that transcend those places.
Poss’ competition winning Tribute to Olympic Athletes weaves landscape and meaning into a singular architectural composition. An earth bermed ramp rises up to the towering gateway form, symbolizing the local athletes’ transcendent passage in the pursuit of lofty goals. The World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial features two inscribed granite walls that each chronicles the events for a theater of battle. The walls merge towards a cast globe where each event is marked with a stainless steel medallion. The magnitude of the war becomes immediately comprehensible as one moves through the site. An AIA jury described the project as “…very well conceived and executed…the elegance of the scheme warrants a level of thought by the users.”
These public memorials have coincided with a series of private spaces whose shapes are determined by location, construction detailing, and symbolic emphasis. The “butterfly” v‐shaped roof of Meditation Hut I conjures up thoughts of flight or transcendence. Wallpaper Magazine described it as an “…enlightened modernists fairytale.” Poss constructed Hut II “Le Cadeau” in the form of an archetypal house shape‐‐like a child's first attempt to represent a dwelling in drawing form, with the connotations of comfort, security, and innocence. It was selected for national recognition in the 2007 AIA Small Projects Award Program, and was described by that jury as “Beautiful, best of the bunch.” “…For a simple project, it really shows true design.”
These simple structures reflect a desire on the part of many to identify and seek out creative ways to both resolve the conflicts of living in the daily world, and their undeniable connection to other places and other times. The positive response by the public and the professional publications and awards validate his initial intentions. While Poss’ architectural skills were honed through education and practice, his desire to create meaningful spaces comes from a deeper, personal source. The collective body of work expresses these values to his patrons, his students, and the public, through the mute but materially rich medium of architecture.