2006.12.03: December 3, 2006: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Architecture: Greater Milwaukee Today: Since his glory days as an All-American soccer-style kicker for the Harvard football team, Honduras RPCV Harry Van Oudenallen has become a world-class architect, professor, mentor and teller of fascinating stories

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Honduras: Peace Corps Honduras: The Peace Corps in Honduras: 2006.12.03: December 3, 2006: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Architecture: Greater Milwaukee Today: Since his glory days as an All-American soccer-style kicker for the Harvard football team, Honduras RPCV Harry Van Oudenallen has become a world-class architect, professor, mentor and teller of fascinating stories

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-250-74-101.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.250.74.101) on Monday, December 11, 2006 - 10:51 am: Edit Post

Since his glory days as an All-American soccer-style kicker for the Harvard football team, Honduras RPCV Harry Van Oudenallen has become a world-class architect, professor, mentor and teller of fascinating stories

Since his glory days as an All-American soccer-style kicker for the Harvard football team, Honduras RPCV Harry Van Oudenallen has become a world-class architect, professor, mentor and teller of fascinating stories

Van Oudenallenís experience in Honduras taught him the valuable lessons that idealism will meet reality in a developing nation and nothing is quite as humbling as stepping into another culture. "We were so young and idealistic when we went to our first job in an agricultural co-op," he says. Shortly after arriving in a banana growing area, three in-country workers were murdered; Van Oudenallen learned his reward for organizing workers was that he was next on the list. Peace Corps transferred him to another town to serve as a community developer. In an area where people voted by dropping a grain of corn or a coffee bean into a box, he organized a savings club. He convinced them to take a payroll deduction of 25 cents; these monies were pooled for micro loans. No PowerPoint in those days, so Van Oudenallen worked out a flannel board to illustrate saving and loans using donkey and hay cutouts. Years later when he returned, the little savings club had grown to assets of $10 million and many workers, by starting small businesses, had managed to get out from under the oppressive thumb of companies that heretofore controlled their lives.

Since his glory days as an All-American soccer-style kicker for the Harvard football team, Honduras RPCV Harry Van Oudenallen has become a world-class architect, professor, mentor and teller of fascinating stories

The road less traveled

By JUDITH STEININGER

December 3, 2006

Since his glory days as an All-American soccer-style kicker for the Harvard football team, Harry Van Oudenallen has become a world-class architect, professor, mentor and teller of fascinating stories.

What do you do when you are simultaneously drafted by the U.S. Army and invited to try out for the Miami Dolphins? Skip the Dolphins, take a two-year deferment from the Army and join the Peace Corps. Thatís what Harry Van Oudenallen did nearly four decades ago, and, as Robert Frost so famously put it, "That has made all the difference."

Trilingual, Van Oudenallen has picked up languages throughout his life. He was born in the Netherlands (the last name is the first clue), but his family moved when he was 1. Nevertheless, he grew up listening to Dutch, and remains fluent to the extent he has taught at the Technical University of Delft. Two years in Honduras as a Peace Corps volunteer polished his Spanish; he still lapses into it with a perfect accent when he refers to architectural projects there. His English is Boston proper.

Van Oudenallenís experience in Honduras taught him the valuable lessons that idealism will meet reality in a developing nation and nothing is quite as humbling as stepping into another culture. "We were so young and idealistic when we went to our first job in an agricultural co-op," he says. Shortly after arriving in a banana growing area, three in-country workers were murdered; Van Oudenallen learned his reward for organizing workers was that he was next on the list. Peace Corps transferred him to another town to serve as a community developer.

In an area where people voted by dropping a grain of corn or a coffee bean into a box, he organized a savings club. He convinced them to take a payroll deduction of 25 cents; these monies were pooled for micro loans. No PowerPoint in those days, so Van Oudenallen worked out a flannel board to illustrate saving and loans using donkey and hay cutouts. Years later when he returned, the little savings club had grown to assets of $10 million and many workers, by starting small businesses, had managed to get out from under the oppressive thumb of companies that heretofore controlled their lives.

After the Peace Corps, the Army no longer needed him, so he took his now-young family and his Harvard architectural science degree to the University of Oregonís graduate school.

As a professor at UW-Milwaukee since 1979, Van Oudenallen has internationalized the visions of his students by taking them on annual trips to countries like Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico and Puerto Rico to study different styles and learn "in the extreme" the different needs for housing and commercial spaces. On his computer, he keeps photos of their remarkable designs inspired by those trips.

He and his wife live in the city near the university. His courses include a design studio each semester for architecture students and one called Pattern Language.

Along with fellow UWM professor Nicolas Cascarano, Van Oudenallen is a partner in Arquitectura Inc., located in Shorewood. Five or six young architects creating possibilities sit in the high-ceilinged, light-drenched space. On the walls are pictures of proposed projects and realized buildings. Scale models sit on tables. Van Oudenallen insists the clientís needs come first.

"Yes, we have a style, but our clients deserve to be heard," he says. Examples of the firmís work locally are condominium projects: City Lights (Palmer and Pleasant) and Riverwest (Commerce and Humboldt).

Van Oudenallenís Peace Corps experiences still keep him thinking about ways to better peopleís lives through architecture.

In Honduras, Arquitectura designed a community for 6,000, which was destroyed by a hurricane.

"The workers had been living in homes that were 200 square feet for a family of five," he says. "We designed homes that were 400 square feet, as well as community spaces like soccer fields and schools."

Van Oudenallen says the School of Architecture at UWM is top shelf. "One graduate working in our firm has been accepted to Harvardís graduate school," he says.

"Even if it is my alma mater, I say the only reasons for going there are if you want to pay very high rent and tuition. UWM is much better."



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Story Source: Greater Milwaukee Today

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