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Emeritus Professor William (Bill) Taylor

School of Design

"Cultivate curiosity and practice generosity daily."

As a native of Louisiana, Professor William M (Bill) Taylor spent his youth amid the distinctive wetlands, antebellum ruins and political quagmire of America’s Deep South. He obtained a Bachelor of Architecture with Honours from Louisiana State University (1984) where he came to understand buildings by means of philosophy, literature and humanities-based learning, and to challenge fundamentalist thinking of whatever denomination. Professor Taylor obtained a Graduate Diploma in History and Theory from the Architectural Association in London (1987) where he turned these proclivities towards studying architecture in relation to sociology and politics, art and power. His subsequent move to Australia encouraged additional interests in landscape theory and environmental studies. He obtained a PhD from UWA (1995) with a thesis that identified historical and theoretical grounds for reasoning about nature and the built environment. He has acquired research grants and written on wide-ranging subjects including architecture and philosophy, transience and catastrophe. He hopes to return and rekindle a back-burner project, writing on ‘Architecture, ships and the sea’.

Most interesting aspect of my career

Lecturing, particularly when a crow walked into my lecture hall. (Obviously they didn’t know about echo-capture.)

Most important experiences at UWA

Efforts to cultivate critical thinking among my students and colleagues while promoting the centrality of the arts and humanities to a comprehensive university.

Where did you think you would end up when you began your career?

I didn’t think I’d stay this long, in Perth and UWA. My field and goals have evolved in various ways, including ‘big’ ways in response to pressing ethical, cultural and environmental needs. However, at the same time, the principal ‘stage’ for the realization of these goals – the university and tertiary sector management generally – has become much smaller, constrained and constraining.

What do you consider to be your most significant achievements?

Creating my School’s (and one of the University’s) first overseas study program, involving three months of instruction in architecture, archaeology, cultural studies and photography in a medieval hilltop town in Italy. Initiating my School’s first interdisciplinary (humanities) symposium. Devising and teaching for a number of years my upper-level research unit with Professor Michael Levine (Philosophy, UWA) ‘Utopia/Disaster and Imagining the City’ – described by more than one student as not only the best unit in my School but in the University. Honouring the struggles of my parents and all victims of Hurricane Katrina with the award of ARC funding and publication of The “Katrina Effect” On the Nature of Catastrophe (Bloomsbury, 2015).

Where to from here?

I hope to stretch some old strings to my bow, like renew practice in drawing, photography and printmaking.

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