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Ursula Emery McClure, BA in Architecture ’92

Ursula Emery McClure, FAIA, AB ‘92, is a founding partner of the award-winning architecture firm emerymcclure, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and a professor at Kansas State University.

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The practice of EmeryMcClure Architecture is research practice. As a firm, we do both what we call constructed activities — things that are built — as well as installations and exhibits for museums. We also do research work, that’s how we’ve always been in practice. So sometimes we’re building a house, sometimes we’re designing a future world, and sometimes we’re installing a museum exhibit.

I’ve been a college professor for as long as we’ve had the firm, so those have never been separate. We’ve always had an active practice. All of the partners in the firm are educators of some sort. Now, I teach in leadership, construction, and engineering. It has a lot to do with all of the transdisciplinary research work that we have done in our firm and that I believe in for the built environment.

Speculations Recently, the firm completed a competition which we were jury finalists in. It was a singular image project of how to reclaim or regenerate an oil rig. As practitioners who come out of southern Louisiana, we have a very intimate relationship with what that means. We did this project called “Over My Dead Body,” which was a commentary on the burial practices in the United States. We don’t really have a lot of land to bury a bunch of dead bodies. What do you do if you need to maintain the ritual of death that the American society is sort of conceptualized in, but you don’t really have room for it anymore?

I love doing houses, too — we do a lot of really cool houses. An addition we did called The Geode was nominated for U.S. building of the year. We’re really proud of that house, because it’s so much bang in just 400 square feet that we added. It totally transformed the entire thing.

We like to have fun! We love architecture so much that we just laugh about it all the time. One partner, Sarah, comes up with “Over My Dead Body,” and we’re just like, “Oh my God, that’s the title of the project!” We think architecture should be like joyful, even when it’s actually very critical.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

Image 08 emc jeeve's house

Jeeve's House

Lafayette, LA, 2000
Image 02 emc over my dead body

Over my Dead Body


Geode House

Lafayette, LA, 2000
Image 09 emc baronne kitchen

Baronne Kitchen

New Orleans, LA, 2017
Image 01 emc gatorhouse

Gator House

False River, LA 2018
Coastal caretaker

Coastal Caretaker

About Ursula Emery McClure

Ursula Emery McClure, FAIA, AB ‘92, is a founding partner of emerymcclure architecture and a professor at Kansas State University. Her architectural projects have garnered numerous awards, including the Gorham P. Stevens Rome Prize for Architecture, American Residential Design Award, and many more. She was named one of ArchDaily’s Most Innovative Practitioners in 2018 and made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2022. Her previous teaching positions include the University of Texas at Arlington and Louisiana State University.