Campus & Community

GSD names Loeb Fellows for 2008-09

8 min read

The following mid-career practitioners, leaders in the effort to improve the quality of the built and natural environment, will be in residence at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) for the 2008-09 academic year.

James Brown is an architect and co-principal of the design firm Public Architecture. His projects have included residential structures, mixed-use developments, office buildings, and university complexes. The firm has received numerous awards and has frequently been in the press. Brown wants to explore more thoroughly the question of the geographical border region in which the company works, seeking to understand the cultural influences of Mexico and the United States on each other’s architecture and urban planning. He will study the design patterns and processes of other similar transitional zones around the world. Brown is the first Loeb Fellow from San Diego.

Roger Cummings is an artist and educator from North Minneapolis, Minn. He is the artistic director and one of the founders of Juxtaposition Arts, a visual art and cultural center that teaches youth from the inner city about creating space and place through art, design, and independent livelihood, both as a form of expression and as a potential career. By applying nontraditional standards of excellence in work, constructive critique, mentoring, and creative marketing of the products of young artists, Cummings helps them develop a discipline for their work that can be applied to many other areas of their lives.  Beginning in a Minneapolis public housing apartment in 1995, this program is now a growing art center and an active part of the curriculum in the city’s schools and the University of Minnesota. A vital thread of the work is to connect the youth to the future of their neighborhood. Cummings will study urban planning and the place of the arts in neighborhood development, revitalization, and sustainability.

Rob Lane is an architect and urban designer. He works for the Regional Plan Association (RPA) in New York and is concerned about the intersection of public process and urban form. He works on many scales, including writing RPA’s position papers on large developments in New York City such as Atlantic Yards, conducting research on big-box retail developments in manufacturing districts, and consulting with middle-sized communities within the region regarding appropriate development and urban design strategies. He will study new techniques for engaging the public in shaping their civic environment, with a particular focus on new forms of mapping that may help take those processes to a more effective level.

India Lee is the program director for Neighborhoods, Housing and Community Development at the Cleveland Foundation. She makes grant recommendations and manages projects related to the foundation’s strategic initiatives for improving the built environment in the downtown area and the neighborhoods of the city. She previously directed a major community development corporation in the city, ran the $177 million Empowerment Zone program, and served as the senior program director for the Cleveland office of Local Initiatives Support Corp. Lee has played a leading role in bringing together the major institutions of the city, public officials, major investors, and large nonprofits to undertake significant efforts to improve the quality of life in Cleveland. She will study the best practices in the neighborhood revitalization arena with a special interest in sustainability and the further advance of the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program.

Edward Morris is co-founder and director of the Canary Project. This nonprofit seeks to produce art and visual media that deepen public understanding of the global climate change problem and to energize commitment to solutions. The central assets of the project are photographs of landscapes around the world that are being affected in significant ways by climate change. Morris organizes these photographs into exhibits, books, Web sites, and other forms of display that will impact the public. He works with scientists, writers, and other artists to find ways to make their messages available to a wide range of audiences and has produced exhibits everywhere from formal museums to the sides of buses. Morris will seek greater understanding of how climate change impacts particular environments and what planners and landscape architects can do to mitigate these effects.

Susannah Sayler is co-founder and artistic director of the Canary Project based in New York. As a photographic artist, she has assembled a collection of powerful images of critical landscapes around the world that have been dramatically changed in the past few decades by the ravages of global climate change. In consultation with scientists, she selects the places where impact is significant, travels there, and shoots and develops the photographs. Her work is informed by the long traditions of North American landscape painting. She believes strongly in the power of art to inform and persuade. At the GSD she will study climate change in greater depth, explore the history and theory of landscape and civic space, and investigate the potential of art to impact our stewardship of the built and natural environment.

Heather Tremain is trained as an architect and practices as a partner in reSource Rethinking Building Inc., a development company focusing on sustainable strategies in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has built a career on creating “leadership” buildings that demonstrate design and construction techniques that are at the cutting edge of environmentally appropriate work. She readily shares her ideas with other developers so the bar is continually raised for green building in the city. She not only develops design ideas, but works on creative financing (e.g., “green loans”) and new ways of inserting her buildings into the urban fabric so they enliven the city. Tremain believes the next big advance in sustainability will have to do with the social aspects of how we live. She will spend her time at the GSD examining the ways in which physical design can facilitate these new ways of interacting with each other and sharing resources.

Lin Wang is the deputy director for the Administration Department of Historical Areas, Urban Design, and Urban Sculpture, in the Shanghai Urban Planning Administration Bureau. In this role she helps shape one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world. She has been among the leading advocates in China for preserving culturally important buildings and city districts as her nation moves rapidly into the 21st century. In addition to her practical work on this issue, she has also written the most widely used textbook on the subject in China, thus influencing the next generation of planners in addition to her own. She also plays an important role in bringing public art to Shanghai and has commissioned works as well as managed competitions to attract the new works of significant artists. Wang will focus her study on comparing Western planning administration and preservation strategies with Chinese practice.

John Werner is a co-founder and executive director of Citizen Schools. An independent nonprofit working in cooperation with public schools, Citizen Schools operates expanded learning and after-school programs for middle school students that complement their school day. Citizen Schools recruits hundreds of professionals and community members to become volunteer “citizen teachers,” leading project-based “apprenticeships” for primarily low-income students of color.  The program helps students develop self-confidence and a zest for learning by achieving mastery and creating products of value to the community. Architects are among frequently recruited teachers who have worked with students to image and re-image civic spaces. Based in Boston, the program now operates in 16 cities nationwide. Werner will study the future forms of civic engagement, the role of education in shaping neighborhoods, and the design of school buildings.

Dorji Yangki is the chief architect and head of the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites at the Department of Culture for Bhutan. She leads the efforts to preserve and promote both tangible and intangible aspects of her nation’s heritage sites. Besides preservation, she has been responsible for the first Folk Heritage Museum, National Archives, galleries for the National Museum, and offices of the Royal Academy of Performing Arts. She recently worked as team leader for the development of the National Spatial Policy of Bhutan, a 20-year strategy aimed at holistic development through strategic zoning and use of spatial resources. She is the first elected president of the Royal Bhutanese Institute of Architects. As a fellow at the GSD, Yangki will study Western practices and policies for sustainable architecture and preservation with focus on new designs that are creative but sympathetic to the local historic context. She will also explore innovative urban planning and local development strategies.