Duane Lewis

After graduating from Cornell with a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1985, Lewis was hired as an architectural designer for Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) where he worked on large-scale projects such as India International Bank of Malaysia (1985), and Bishop's Gate, London (1987).

From 1992–2000 Lewis was an architectural drafting shop instructor for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and in 2004 he became an architectural drafting instructor, a teaching position focused on junior and senior high school students that he has held for the past 25 years.

After leaving SOM in 1988, Lewis worked at the Amistad Group on projects such as design/rendering for the $200-million Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center atrium. Acting as a consultant for his church, he became the project manager for a bankrupt $4-million community facility, reducing the budget by more than $1 million.

As a teacher, Lewis developed a curriculum for the architectural and construction trades that includes model building, blueprint reading, graphic design, rendering, photography, and hand lettering. Notable projects have included joint venture apprenticeship training for high school students with Wendell Campbell and Associates to redevelop the Chicago Military Academy–Bronzeville, and the design for a residence and research lab for the University of Chicago Education and Outreach Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica. He was awarded the AIA Distinguished Teacher Award in 1995 and Chicago Public Schools Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in 1997.

While still working at CPS, in 2009 Lewis began marketing his daughter's patented product, Eraser Mitt, which cleans chalkboards and whiteboards without dust or chemicals. Concurrently, Lewis discovered a visual method for training high school student interns with developmental disabilities. Today, he is the president of New Life Pre-Employment Services, providing job-readiness training for high school diverse learners through a 14-step, light manufacturing training curriculum to therapeutically visualize and assemble the Eraser Mitt "kit of parts," thereby "enhancing an extended expression containing the five elements of architectural order."

In addition to a B.Arch. degree from Cornell AAP, Lewis holds a master of arts degree in theological studies from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, and an M.S. in human services administration from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. Among his awards is the Progress Architectural Award for the Republic Bank of Houston project (1987), completed while at SOM.

As a student at Cornell, Lewis was an American Institute of Architects Scholarship Recipient and a member of the African American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha. He was influenced by many, including his advisor and architecture professor Henry Richardson, and architecture faculty Bonnie MacDougall and Jerry Wells, citing classes in design studio, real estate development, and sculpture as significant to his education. These continue to inform his work.

"As an architect, I have discovered that through my advanced academic training at Cornell as a 'visual' designer/illustrator, communicating in this way with the diverse learner population has been extremely effective."