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Victoria native leads award-winning architecture program

10/20/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

A Victoria High School graduate quickly is building an impressive resume.

A university architecture and design class taught by Jenny Kenne Kivett has won the top prize in the Charles E. Peterson Prize competition, a contest for college students established to award the top set of drawings in preservation of historic buildings in the United States.

Kivett, a 1999 graduate of VHS, now is an assistant professor in the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She led her students to first place in the annual prestigious Peterson Prize competition, in its 31st year.

Louisiana-Lafayette had participated in the competition for several years and has earned honorable mention recognition.

However, this is the first time for the school to finish in the top three.

The competition is held in the spring semester, and Kivett was in her first year at Lafayette last year and her fifth overall of teaching at the university level.

Kivett had won a prestigious architecture education award for her senior thesis at the University of Kansas.

But the Peterson Prize has special meaning.

"It's really exciting for me as a teacher to see my students do well," Kivett said. "I was very proud of my thesis work. But it's different as a student; you're being directed. Now, it's exciting and rewarding to see that I've directed students in a way that they can be successful."

Kivett's class created drawings of the Alexandre Mouton House in Lafayette, built in the early 1800s and home to Louisiana's first Democratic governor of Louisiana.

First place in the Peterson Prize competition is awarded $3,000, while second place was $2,500 and third was $2,000.

Second place was a drawing of Fenwick Hall at Johns Island, S.C., while third was the Illinois Supreme Court Building. The University of Minnesota received honorable mention for its drawing of the Gesu Catholic Church.

Kivett -- whose focus at Lafayette is teaching foundation design studio and drawing courses -- and two of her students were honored Friday in an awards ceremony in Scottsdale, Ariz.

These are exciting times for Kivett, the daughter of Linda Kenne, superintendent of Victoria USD 388.

Besides her recent professional success, Kivett and her husband, Joel, are expecting their first child in January.

"This was all pretty surprising," Kivett said of the Peterson Prize. "(Last year) was the first time I taught the class, so it was a large learning curve for me. And it was the first time for all my students to do the drawings. I'm really proud of them ... really exciting."