AREF Ed Akins with Kennesaw State University

Interim Department Chair of Architecture at Kennesaw State University, Ed Akins, is in the studio for today’s episode of Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio. Joined by co-hosts Carol Morgan and Todd Schnick, the group discusses the innovative changes COVID-19 has brought to the classroom, the architecture curriculum and the built environment in which we live.

Originally from southeast Georgia, Akins attended Georgia Tech for his undergrad and graduate degrees in architecture. While there, his role as a teaching assistant introduced him to the world of teaching and shifted his professional path in an exciting new direction. After graduating, Akins continued to teach while also working professionally with Smith Dalia Architects. In 2009, he began teaching at the then Southern Polytech University as an Associate Professor. He continued teaching through the university’s merger with Kennesaw State University and was recently appointed Interim Department Chair of Architecture within the College of Architecture and Construction Management.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the challenges it has brought to both education and architecture, Akins is excited about the problem-solving initiatives happening as a result. According to Akins, the architecture curriculum continues to be questioned in a way that keeps his students innovated and moving forward. Having leaders of the built environment and sustainability within the region has also been an incredible luxury that the students can use to their advantage. Overall, Akins is inspired by his students’ resilience, patience and ability to apply design thinking to multiple realms including single-family residential, hospitals and government structures. Although COVID-19 has brought its challenges, the architecture students at KSU are truly flourishing in this new environment.

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has changed the way architects think about design, especially when it comes to maintaining safety and air quality. Akins continues to encourage both his students and his fellow industry professionals to embrace these changes, learn from them and use innovation to move forward. When it comes to single-family residences, Akins states that there are a lot of changes being made regarding efficiency and resiliency with the biggest call to action being home affordability. In the Atlanta region, there is a need for equity, inclusion and the awareness that everyone deserves affordable housing. If we can be inclusive in our built environments, architecture and cities, then we can begin to understand the position of others.

Another innovative idea emerging in Atlanta architecture is the elimination of auto-centric designs. When a developer is looking at a property, they often have to accommodate for the auto-centric lifestyle. This includes compromising land and aesthetics in order to plan for parking decks, lots and other auto-centric elements. Today, architects are looking to take on a more transit-oriented approach by constructing buildings that encourage the use sidewalks and public transportation. Not only does this encourage more face-to-face connections within public space, but it also allows that money spent on parking to be used in different ways.

To learn more about the Kennesaw State University College of Architecture and Construction Management department, visit

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