It is difficult to know where to begin in describing the impact that Bob Hansman, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, has made on the St. Louis community and Washington University in St. Louis students. Linda Esah, Bob’s nominator and 2004 honoree, met Bob during the culmination of Hate Awareness Week in the fall of 2000 when Bob presented the program he created called City Faces.
In 1993, Bob started a small program for children who were living in poverty in St. Louis to teach them how to draw and paint. Through Bob’s presentation of this program to WUSTL students, Linda and others have learned about how these young teenagers, in sketching their own faces, began to find their own voices. The more Bob learned about these artists, the more he realized that his program is an important piece but only a beginning towards improving the lives of the youth that he serves. The students expose Bob to the challenges they face growing up in poverty and being victims of racial injustice.
Bob’s dedication to these students inspired him to move his studio and occasional apartment to the Clinton-Peabody housing project. He has bridged his knowledge and experience in the St. Louis community to WUSTL students, and in 1999 Bob began the Hewlett Program in Architecture, which introduces undergraduate students – particularly incoming freshmen – to cultural and social aspects of St. Louis. Bob encourages students to question the social implications of their building plans, such as violence and overcrowding.
In addition to teaching WUSTL and City Faces students, Bob sits on the Board of Directors for the Lucas Heights Neighborhood Initiative and Paint Louis, is the Co-Coordinator of St. Louis Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Coalition Art Program, and has been the President of the Board of Directors for Open Door Art Studio, for people with mental illness.
For his work with City Faces, Bob has received a World of Difference Award from President Clinton’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1996, a Missouri Arts Award and an award from Colin Powell’s America’s Promise campaign in 1999.
Linda said, “For my own part, knowing him has opened my mind and heart not only about the wide-reaching ripple one person can create, but has also convinced me that service is a vital part of really being fully alive.”