Peace Garden Project Transforms Hunt Library Outdoor Space

Peace Garden near Hunt Library

by Jasmin Cha

Alumnus, professor and former Head of the School of Architecture Stephen Lee, a seasoned educator and leader in architectural design and realization, has been inspiring students through hands-on, practical projects that bring their designs to life. This spring, the Design/Build Studio at the School of Architecture continued developing its Peace Garden Project, an initiative that encompasses both architectural innovation and sustainable design.

The Peace Garden Project, under Lee's guidance, aims to enhance the quality of life on campus by transforming a virtual design into a tangible, functional space for the CMU community. Located between Hunt Library and the Hall of the Arts building, the Peace Garden not only beautifies our campus, but also serves as a delightful retreat for students, faculty, and visitors.

Professor Stephen Lee with students in front of their Peace Garden Project.

After his retirement in May 2024, Lee plans to continue contributing to the field by advising and teaching future design-build projects. His passion for architecture was sparked in childhood, designing and building everything from snow forts and minibikes to architectural structures. This hands-on approach has shaped his professional ethos and led to significant contributions to the field, including leading Solar Decathlon teams and numerous design/build studios.

Lee's favorite memory from teaching is the visible joy and pride on his students’ faces as they witness their designs — initially simple marks on paper or pixels on a screen — materialize into full-scale, usable structures. This moment of realization not only encapsulates the essence of architectural education but also reinforces the value of experiential learning. Lee's teaching philosophy is deeply rooted in the idea that students learn best by doing — a concept reinforced by the studio's rigorous hands-on approach, which includes everything from ideation to construction. This methodology not only prepares students for professional practice but also instills in them a profound respect for the craft of building.

As Lee concludes his time on campus, his legacy of fostering practical skills and creative thinking continues to thrive, ensuring that his impact will resonate well beyond his tenure at Carnegie Mellon University. The Peace Garden represents his enduring influence — offering a space that includes the Hunt Library community, students, faculty, and campus visitors to experience the tangible outcomes of educational influence. The Peace Garden will remain a living classroom that will inspire and guide future generations of designers and architects, embodying Lee’s commitment to learning through doing.