Deemed Dean

Vishaan Chakrabarti named dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design

Vishaan Chakrabarti gives a TED talk in Vancouver, Canada in 2018. (Bret Hartman/Courtesy TED)

Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) founder Vishaan Chakrabarti is taking his ideas to the left coast.

Chakrabarti announced yesterday that he will be the next Dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design (CED) starting in July of 2020, a post that was previously held by Jennifer Wolch. He is founding an outpost of his PAU practice in California, and leaving the New York office in the hands of Ruchika Modi, the office’s associate partner and studio director.

In a letter, Chakrabarti noted that the appointment would give “jet fuel” to PAU and enable it to go after institutional and cultural projects. The firm is behind the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn into high-end office space, a proposed Penn Station transformation, and a master plan for the sprawling Sunnyside Yard in Queens.

“CED and PAU also perfectly mirror each other in terms of their twin pillars of design excellence and social impact,” reads the open letter. “This is why Berkeley was excited at the thought of a practitioner dean consistent with the top design schools around the world.”

“Berkeley approached me about this in January, and after much discussion both at home and in the office, we all decided this would add jet fuel to our practice and our desires to design buildings for universities and cultural institutions, and would add adventure to our personal lives. California itself is extraordinary, and is also the gateway to all of the west coast and Pacific Rim.

“One final note: I love New York and I always will. In my heart I am not going anywhere, and at the end of either a five or ten-year term as Dean, I may well be back ready to take on even bigger challenges here in the Big Apple.”

In addition to running his firm, Chakrabarti is currently an associate professor of professional practice at Columbia GSAPP, a position he has held for the past decade.

Between now and 2020, professor Renee Chow will serve as interim dean of CED.

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