Harvard Graduate School of Design former Loeb Fellow Emmanuel Pratt (LF ’17) is one of 26 recipients of this year’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships, colloquially called MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grants. The program aims to recognize a host of artists and scholars for their creativity and potential, and to empower them with the financial support to enable and elevate their endeavors.
Pratt was recognized for his visionary work through his Sweet Water Foundation, a nonprofit organization based on Chicago’s South Side that engages local residents in the cultivation and regeneration of social, environmental, and economic resources in the South Side. As the Foundation notes, the Sweet Water Foundation’s strategy is grounded in the transformation of abandoned buildings and vacant lots into sites of sustainable urban agriculture, which also serve as platforms for project-based educational and mentorship programs, intergenerational collaboration, and the creative reuse of salvaged materials through innovations in design.
Pratt joined the Harvard GSD community in 2016 as a Loeb Fellow, taking on a range of activities while in residence. He curated the Spring 2017 exhibition “We the Publics: A manifesto to restore democracy and truth in the Republic,” the result of a series of discussions Pratt had with Harvard GSD exhibitions director Dan Borelli reflecting upon a series of humanitarian and political crises. The resulting exhibition prompted visitors to reflect on what is considered “public” in today’s society, and to restore and reclaim eroded “Publics,” whether public good, public transportation, public discourse, or otherwise.
Pratt received a BArch (1999) from Cornell University and an MSAUD (Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design, 2003) from Columbia University. From 2011 to 2019, Pratt served as the director of aquaponics at Chicago State University, and he was the Charles Moore Visiting Professor at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan until 2019. Currently, Pratt is co-founder and executive director of Sweet Water Foundation and visiting lecturer in the Environmental and Urban Studies Program at the University of Chicago.
Learn more about Pratt’s MacArthur award, and his ongoing work, at the MacArthur Foundation’s announcement.