Before Forging Ahead, a Look Back: Highlights from 2017-2018

“WE ALL,” designed by Francisco Alarcon (MDes '18), Carla Ferrer Llorca (MDes '17), and Rudy Weissenberg (MDes '18) for the Grove in Allston.

A look back at a few of the projects and moments that marked the past year at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

June 2017

Chilean architect Samuel Bravo wins the 2017 Wheelwright Prize. His research proposal, Projectless: Architecture of Informal Settlements, focuses on traditional architectures and informal settlements.

The Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies releases the 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing. The report finds that while the national housing market has, by many measures, returned to normal, growing demand and tight supply are adding to ongoing concerns about affordability.

Photo by Iwan Baan.
Photo by Iwan Baan.

The GSD premiers Wimbledon House in London for the first time since restorations by British architect Philip Gumuchdjian and landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan (MLA ’84) began in 2015. Designed by Richard Rogers for his parents in the late 1960s, the House serves as residence for the Richard Rogers Fellowship.

July 2017

Faculty members Diane E. Davis and Lily Song discuss urban mobility and inequality in Politico magazine’s “The Cities Issue.” Pointing to recent research they have undertaken at the GSD, the pair explain how urban-transport policies and programs trying to improve mobility can inadvertently worsen segregation and inequality.

August 2017

The GSD’s Jesse M. Keenan is featured in Vice and Scientific American talking about “climate gentrification,” a theory of economic adaptation coined by Keenan to explain how substitute investments in less vulnerable or highly resilient urban areas will operate to accelerate speculative investment, fueling gentrification and displacement. As the impacts of climate change drive people away from afflicted areas, these residents relocate to—and gentrify—less-vulnerable neighborhoods.

Rouse Visiting Artist Lecture: Luisa Lambri, with Mark LeeArtist Luisa Lambri, in conversation with Mark Lee (MArch ’95), kicks off the GSD’s Fall 2017 public lecture series. The event presents an overview of her work, with particular attention to her investigations of geometric and organic abstraction through the medium of photography.

Opening the GSD’s 2017-2018 exhibitions program, Rahul Mehrotra’s “Soft Thresholds: Projects of RMA Architects, Mumbai” asks: Can architecture and planning intentionally construct soft thresholds―lines that are easily traversed, even temporarily erased―thereby allowing for multiple perspectives across different modes of research and practice and catalyzing disciplinary and social connections?”

September 2017

WE ALL”—a design-build installation in Allston, designed by Francisco Alarcon (MDes ’18), Carla Ferrer Llorca (MDes ’17), and Rudy Weissenberg (MDes ’18)—is opened to the public. The project was selected in Spring 2017 through a two-stage GSD design competition in partnership with the Harvard University Office of the Executive Vice President, Harvard Campus Services, Harvard Planning Office, Graffito SP, and the Zone 3 initiative.

Harvard Crimson names Alex Krieger one of Harvard University’s “15 Professors of the Year”

Dutch photographer Iwan Baan presents a lecture on work from the newly published Portman’s America: & Other Speculations, edited by Dean Mostafavi. Baan’s work from the book is featured in a concurrent exhibition in the Loeb Library.

Dandi Zhang (MLA ’17), Chenyuan Gu (MLA ’17), and William Baumgardner (MLA ’18) at the final review for the spring 2017 studio "Kuala Lumpur / Discovering Traces."

Dandi Zhang (MLA ’17), Chenyuan Gu (MLA ’17), and William Baumgardner (MLA ’18) win a 2017 ALSA Student Award in the Residential Design Category for their project, “Micro-Infrastructure as Community Preservation: Kampung Baru.” The submission grew out of work for the spring 2017 option studio “Kuala Lumpur / Discovering Traces,” led by Rok Oman, David Rubin and Spela Videcnik.

October 2017

Following the success of the inaugural 2015 edition, the 2017 Black in Design Conference continued with an examination of where and how design and activism intersect. Organized by the GSD’s African American Student Union (AASU), the conference took up the theme “Designing Resistance, Building Coalitions.” Powerful keynotes by Hamza Walker and DeRay Mckesson framed a weekend of dialogue, events, and contemplation.

HDM44_Cover2_web_1000pxHarvard Design Magazine releases “Seventeen“(Fall/Winter 2017-18), its 44th issue. Asking, “what does it mean to be 17 in 2017?” the issue checks in with teens of all sorts—humans, buildings, objects, ideas—and their impact on the spatial imagination.

Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium” examines the work and life of I. M. Pei (MArch ’46) from multiple vantage points. The two-day event is organized by the GSD with M+, Hong Kong, and the Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong.

Alumni Kate Orff (MLA ’97) and Damon Rich (LF ’07) are among 24 named 2017 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellows. Orff is the first landscape architect to be honored with the fellowship in the program’s 37-year history.

Three GSD books are named to Metropolis magazine’s “25 essential additions” for Fall 2017

Toru Mitani curates the second main exhibition of the year: “Landscape: Fabric of Details,” a review of the work of Mitani’s Studio on Site and his exploration of how perception is altered through minute dimensional changes in the prosaic components of everyday landscapes

Core Studio Public Lecture: Virgil Abloh, “Insert Complicated Title Here”
“He’s a contemporary young voice who can disrupt. Architecture needs some disruption,” Eric Howeler, associate professor of architecture, told the Gazette of Abloh.

Designer Virgil Abloh visits the GSD for a core studio public lecture entitled “Insert Complicated Title Here.” The founder of Milan-based fashion label Off-White, Abloh encouraged the packed Piper Auditorium crowd (despite minimal notice of the impromptu event, some attendees traveled from as far away as upstate New York, to attend the talk) to find their creative voices and directions.

November 2017

Field trip to Harvard Forest for HIS-4447 Forest, Grove, Tree: Planting Urban LandscapesStudents reflect on a visit to Harvard Forest as part of Sonja Dümpelmann’s course, “Forest, Grove, Tree: Planting Urban Landscapes.” “There’s a big aura around this place for me. I’m from the southwest part of New Hampshire, so this landscape is very familiar. These could be the same woods and old roads where I live. To have them occupied in this way, and to see what a research forest looks and feels like is pretty extraordinary,” reflects Emily Drury (MLA ’18).

First-year Master in Architecture candidate Aria Griffin is named the inaugural Phil Freelon Fellow.

Jorge Silvetti presents the Eduard Sekler Memorial Lecture: “TYPE: Architecture’s elusive obsession and the rituals of an impasse.”

December 2017

Ronald M. Druker (LF '76), center, with the Harvard University Graduate School of Design's Dean Mohsen Mostafavi (left) and Grounded Visionaries campaign Co-Chair John K. F. Irving (AB ’83, MBA ’89) (right)
Ronald M. Druker (LF ’76), center, with the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Dean Mohsen Mostafavi (left) and Grounded Visionaries campaign Co-Chair John K. F. Irving (AB ’83, MBA ’89) (right)

The GSD receives a $15 million gift from Ronald M. Druker (LF ’76) and the Bertram A. and Ronald M. Druker Charitable Foundation. It is the largest made to date to the GSD’s Grounded Visionaries campaign, as well as the largest single gift from an individual in the school’s history. In recognition, the GSD names its primary exhibition gallery the Druker Design Gallery.

Career Discovery, the GSD’s six-week, summer immersion program for the design-curious of all ages and backgrounds, emerges after 46 years with a new identity and name: Design Discovery.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announces a collaboration with Rem Koolhaas and AMO, drawing from research undertaken by GSD students enrolled in Koolhaas’s Rotterdam-based Studio Abroad. The collaborative initiative will culminate in a fall 2019 rotunda exhibition, tentatively titled, Countryside: Future of the World.

Jorge Silvetti wins the 2018 AIA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education. The award is considered the highest honor given to educators in architecture.

January 2018

Clay Storming Workshop

J-term kicks off with a range of offerings, including a Clay Storming workshop led by architect and honorary professor of the UNESCO Chair, Anna Heringer.

The 2018 Richard Rogers Fellowship winners are announced. The six Fellows hail from Switzerland, Japan, Australia, and the United States.

Michael Hays and Andrew Holder premier main exhibition “Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech,” showcasing important projects by GSD faculty spanning more than 35 years of practice, interspersed as conceptual keystones among works from emerging architects across the American academy, offering a theory of the structural relationships that bind and organize even the apparent delirium of the contemporary field.

Jeanne Gang (MArch ’93), Sharon Johnston (MArch ’95), and Mark Lee (MArch ’95), are named Professors in Practice of Architecture effective July 1, 2018. “We are incredibly pleased to welcome Jeanne, Sharon, and Mark, who will make a great contribution not only to the Department of Architecture, but also to the whole School, with the vast wealth of experience, leadership, and vision they bring,” said Dean Mostafavi.

February 2018

Frida Escobedo (MDes ’12) is selected to design the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Kensington Gardens. Her courtyard-based design draws inspiration from British materials and history, as well as the domestic architecture of her native Mexico.

Artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph screens four of his films as part of the Rouse Visiting Artist program.

Photo by Timothy Schenck/Courtesy of Friends of the High Line.
Photo by Timothy Schenck/Courtesy of Friends of the High Line.

The High Line is named winner of the 2017 Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design. The award’s prize goes to Friends of the High Line in recognition of the organization’s originating efforts and continued stewardship behind the project.

A panel of scholars discusses memory and place in the event “On Monuments: Place, Time, and Memory.” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust provides opening remarks.

March 2018

The Department of Landscape Architecture announces the 2018 Penny White Project Fund recipients. The regions of research for the eleven selected student projects span the planet and address a range of critical conditions, technologies, and processes relevant to the advancement of the discipline of landscape architecture and contemporary urbanization today.

The GSD introduces The Future of the American City initiative, with support from Miami’s Knight Foundation. Building on the School’s unique, multi-disciplinary model, the effort will use architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design to come up with actionable, efficient solutions that take into account community needs.

Mark Lee (MArch '95)
Mark Lee (MArch ’95)

Following a multi-year search, Mark Lee (MArch ’95) is named Chair of Department of Architecture, effective July 1, 2018.

The tenth-annual Platform exhibition, “Live Feed: Platform 10,” goes up in the Druker Design Gallery.

Allen Sayegh, associate professor in practice of architectural technology, and REAL colleague Stefano Andreani (MDes ’13) edit Domus magazine’s annual Innovation issue. With a focus on the built environment from a design and experiential perspective, the issue features thought-provoking work from Allen and several other GSD faculty—Antoine Picon, Sawako Kaijima, and Martin Bechthold, among others.

April 2018

Jeanne Gang (MArch ’93) presents the 2018 Open House Lecture: “Thinking Through Practice and Research”

Harvard Design Magazine No. 45 (Spring/Summer 2018), "Into the Woods"Harvard Design Magazine releases its 45th issue, entitled “Into the Woods” (Spring/Summer 2018), taking up “the woods” as a natural and a cultural habitat, a physical resource, a site of extraction and of myth—and as an opportunity to examine the current moment in society and in design.

Belgian architect Aude-Line Dulière is named winner of the 2018 Wheelwright Prize. Her winning proposal Crafted Images: Material Flows, Techniques, and Uses in Set Design Construction aims to examine construction methods and supply systems in the global film industry, engaging the space-making elements of film and set design as well as potential innovations around material use and reuse throughout architecture and construction generally.

Isaac Stein (MLA/MDes ’20) and Maggie Tsang (MDes ’19) win first-place in the 2018 Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition (RIPAC), the competition’s fourth cycle. Their winning design, “A Pine in the Sand,” offers a poetic design narrative on environmental changes and processes, and their intersections with time and with human activity.

Architects Henry N. Cobb (AB ’47, MArch ’49), Peter Eisenman, and Rafael Moneo discuss “How Will Architecture Be Conceived?

The GSD reveals the Work in Progress series, videos featuring an inside look at the design process behind student projects.


The final Rouse Visiting Artist Program lecture of the semester features Raf Simons, Chief Creative Officer at Calvin Klein, and LA-based visual artist, Sterling Ruby, in conversation with Jessica Morgan, Director of the Dia Art Foundation. The conversation focuses on the overlapping worlds of design, fashion, and contemporary art.

May 2018

The Loeb Fellowship announces its incoming class of 2018-2019 fellows. The nine fellows hail from six countries and represent a broad spectrum of expertise–from urban planning and government, to architecture and design activism.

Proposal for "Port District Interbay: Seattle," first-place winner in the GSD's 2018 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize
Proposal for “Port District Interbay: Seattle,” first-place winner in the GSD’s 2018 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize.

Winners of the 2018 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize are announced. Established with a gift by long-term friends, business partners, and GSD advocates Samuel Plimpton (MBA ’77 & MArch ’80) and William J. Poorvu (MBA ’58), the Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize recognizes the two top teams or individuals for a viable real estate project completed as part of the GSD curriculum.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Toshiko Mori, the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture, is interviewed by the Gazette for the Experience series on leaders at Harvard University. “Set your priority and agendas. Don’t let the outside world tell you how you should work or what you want to do,” Mori advises tomorrow’s architects.

Paola Antonelli, senior curator in the Department of Architecture & Design and founding Director of Research & Development at The Museum of Modern Art, serves as the GSD’s 2018 Class Day speaker.

The GSD awards 356 degrees during Harvard’s 367th Commencement.