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Faculty Spotlight: Jose A. Gelabert-Navia

By Jose A. Gelabert-Navia

Faculty Spotlight: Jose A. Gelabert-Navia

By Jose A. Gelabert-Navia
Jose A. Gelabert-Navia has taught more than 2,000 students during his time at the School of Architecture at the University of Miami. Get to know him in this faculty spotlight!
  • Professor of Design and History of Architecture in the School of Architecture
  • Founder of the School’s Rome Program 
What drives you as a professor?

I am driven by the possibility of making a difference in the lives of my students. I have taught more than 2,000 students during my time at the University. Every year, many of them come back for Homecoming and nothing gives me greater joy than hearing of their success and how I helped them as architects and as citizens.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Provide a window and a structure to help a student find their place in the world.

How do you engage your students in the classroom?

We teach design by giving one-on-one desk critiques. We create a dialogue in which both the student and I collaborate in the development of a design idea.

How do you help students understand your topic?

By mostly visual presentations that discuss not only architecture but also history, society, and culture.

What are your goals as a professor?

To make a difference in my students’ lives by providing them with the tools to be fulfilled as professionals and as civic leaders.

How does your teaching style differ from others?

I try to see how the subject matter can be a vehicle for personal growth. I try to allow lessons to gently come out of my own students’ development and not from rules and regulations. If the knowledge is not accepted and understood, it will not last. As my history professor used to say, it will become “intellectual sun-tan, sure to wear off at the end of your education.”

What is the biggest piece of advice for someone thinking of going into this field of study?

Do it because you love it. Architecture is not the 100-yard dash, it is the marathon. It is more about endurance than flash; more about persistence than drama; more about commitment than natural genius. Rewards will take time, but they will be enduring.

Do you believe that what you teach your students can relate to their everyday life?

Very much so. For me, architecture is a map to navigate your life and a framework for understanding your place in the world.