Amale Andraos, principal of New York–based architecture firm WORKac, has been named dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), succeeding Mark Wigley. Currently on faculty at GSAPP, she has also taught at Princeton, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and the American University in Beirut.
“Columbia is just an incredibly exciting place that’s always been on the forefront of the profession,” Andraos told AN. “It’s an incredibly diverse and experimental place. I want to maintain and expand its role as a think tank for global practice.”
“An inspiring teacher, a respected colleague, and a pioneering practitioner whose innovative commissions in cities around the world have earned widespread admiration, Amale is a new leader among a rising generation of creative architects and designers of our physical environment,” said Columbia president Lee Bollinger in a statement. “She is just the kind of person who can further expand the role of the School as a center of interdisciplinary thinking across Columbia about how to develop a more just and sustainable society.”
While Wigley was best known as a theorist, Andraos has balanced both teaching and practice. “We think of ourselves as a design research firm. For us teaching and practice inform one another,” she said.
WORKac has completed numerous projects including the Blaffer Museum in Houston, the Children’s Museum of Arts in Manhattan, and the Edible School Yard project at P.S. 216 in Brooklyn. They won the MoMA P.S. 1 Young Architects Program in 2008. The firm is currently working on a conference center in Libreville, Gabon and they recently completed a master plan for seven new university campuses in China.
In a profession that is still plagued by diversity issues and gender disparities, Andraos is one of an increasing number of women deans and directors. Running a school as prominent as Columbia, though, she will arguably be one of the most influential women in American architecture.