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Architecture Schools Announce Changing of the Guards

May 28, 2008

By Jenna M. McKnight

As the academic year draws to a close, several architecture schools have announced changes in leadership.

Monica Ponce de Leon, principal at Office dA, which she founded in Boston in 1991 with Nader Tehrani, was appointed dean of the University of Michigan’s A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She starts her new position on September 1. Leon is leaving Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), where she is director of its digital lab. She joined the GSD faculty in 1996 after teaching at the University of Miami, Northeastern University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ponce de Leon isn’t the only female architect assuming a top academic post: On May 16, the University of Pennsylvania named Marilyn Jordan Taylor, a long-time partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the new dean of its School of Design, effective October 1. She will continue to serve as a consulting partner at SOM, where she has worked for 35 years. (“Penn Announces New Architecture Dean”)

Meanwhile, Preston Scott Cohen was appointed chair of the GSD’s architecture department, effective July 1. The Boston-based architect and author has won international competitions for projects such as China’s Taiyuan Art Museum and the Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The three-time Progressive Architecture Award recipient started teaching at the GSD in 1989 and has served on faculties at Princeton University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Ohio State University.

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In New Orleans, Kenneth Schwartz was hired to lead the Tulane School of Architecture. A Cornell University graduate, Schwartz has held teaching and administrative positions at the University of Virginia’s architecture school since 1984. He also has taught at Cornell, Syracuse University, and Princeton University. He and his wife, Judith Kinnard, an architect, have won national competitions for urban design schemes. Schwartz begins his new position on July 1. 

The Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, named Alan Balfour the fourth dean of its College of Architecture, effective July 1. He replaces Thomas D. Galloway, who died unexpectedly in March 2007. Balfour was Georgia Tech’s architecture program director from 1977 to 1987, and most recently, he was dean of the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. A member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Balfour was educated at the Edinburgh College of Art and at Princeton University. His World Cities book series has explored architecture in urban centers such as Shanghai, New York City, and Berlin.  

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