For many architecture and design schools across the United States, 2019 marks a shift in institutional leadership. From Charlotte to Berkeley, new deans will assume the helms of some of the countryâ€™s most challengingâ€”and excitingâ€”programs. The deans will have the opportunity to shape design pedagogy and practice in significant ways, potentially guiding how academic institutions teach and address issues related to the built environment for years to come. But in an era of collaborative learning and community engagement, what does deanship look like? AN asked eight of the countryâ€™s new deans about their plans for the future of their schools and their discipline. Hereâ€™s what they have to say:
Respondentsâ€™ answers have been edited and condensed in some cases.
University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design
A former principal at SHoP Architects, Vishaan Chakrabarti is a professor at Columbia Universityâ€™s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and the founder of the New York-based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism.
The Architectâ€™s Newspaper: What is your vision for the school moving forward?
Given the spatial nature of our three existential challengesâ€”climate change, social inequity, and technological dislocationâ€”I believe that schools of architecture are as relevant today as law schools were during the civil and equal rights era. I am keenly interested in exploring with students, staff, and faculty the questions of how to reconcile the demands of professional practiceâ€”which takes decades to do wellâ€”with the understandable impatience of many students to radically and immediately change our world in light of the environmental, intersectional, economic, and political crises in which they have come of age.
How is your new school different from your previous institution, Columbia University?
Because [Berkeley] is public, it serves disproportionately large numbers of first-generation college students, Pell Grant recipients, and other diverse groups relative to most private institutions. More broadly, Berkeley is part of the Pacific Rim and therefore exists at a healthy distance from the Eurocentric framework that still dominates many design schools.
Pratt Institute School of Architecture
Before assuming her role at Pratt, Harriet Harriss was the head of the postgraduate program in architecture and interior design at the Royal College of Art in London, where she explored new models of design education addressing gender imbalances that exist at many institutions.
What is your vision for the school moving forward?
The tradition of parachuting in architectural visionaries ready to superimpose their agenda and aesthetics upon an unsuspecting facultyâ€”with little regard for the established expertise within a school of architectureâ€” is no longer viable. The vision I have is the one I intend to co-design with the talented and dedicated educators, students, and administrators at Pratt Institute School of Architectureâ€¦ Whatâ€™s needed is a dean who is willing to facilitate, enable, and empower, who is committed to ensuring talented studentsâ€™ and educatorsâ€™ work gets the recognition and exposure it deserves, and one who will work toward ensuring the work is realized across an expanded field of professional practices and public contexts.
Who would you consider a role model dean and why?
Architectureâ€™s habit of focusing upon an individualâ€™s contribution over that of a collective does not reflect the reality of architectural practice or education. Instead, we need to recognize the achievements of collectives in shaping the most successful spatial outcomes and increase our capacity for collaboration in order to respond effectively to challenges ahead.
What would you make your schoolâ€™s mascot?
Do we need mascots? Or actions that lead to meaningful impact?
New Jersey Institute of Technology Hillier College of Architecture and Design
Previously a professor and administrator at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at the University of Calgary, Branko Kolarevic is a designer and educator with experience at multiple universities across North America and Asia.