Mohsen Mostafavi announced that he will leave his post as dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD) at the end of this academic year. "I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to serve the Graduate School of Design and Harvard as dean for the past decade, and am now writing to let you know of my intention to conclude my term at the end of this academic year and to return to teaching and research after a sabbatical," Mostafavi said in a statement. The Iranian-American architect began his tenure at the helm of the GSD in 2008, taking over from Alan Altshuler. Mostafavi had previously served as the head of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (AA) from 1995 to 2004. He directed the GSD's master’s program in architecture from 1992 to 1995. He received his diploma in architecture from the AA. The GSD is currently in the midst of a renovation led by Herzog and de Meuron that promises to update its historic Gund Hall home. Larry Bacow, president of Harvard University, said in a statement that a search for a new dean will begin shortly. Mostafavi has not commented on his reasons for leaving, but this article will be updated with new information as it becomes available.
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This morning, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design announced that real estate and development magnate Druker Company President Ronald Druker made a $15 million donation to the school. The donation, the “largest single gift from an individual in the school’s history” will be used to fund the renovation and building expansion of Gund Hall. Leading up to the donation, Druker worked with Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design at the GSD, Mohsen Mostafavi, to help strategize the school’s ambitions and needs to continue to achieve design innovation in the future. Harvard is renaming its primary exhibition gallery the “Druker Design Gallery” in his honor. “I am delighted that this generous gift from Ron, one of the GSD’s most prominent, committed, and long-standing advocates and supporters, will provide resources crucial to helping us move forward our plans to build new, innovative spaces of research and learning,” said Mostafavi in a statement. “It is equally meaningful and fitting for the school to be able to name its primary exhibition space in his honor.”
Skidmore Owings & Merrill have been selected by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and the City of Detroit Planning Department to develop a comprehensive plan for the city’s East Riverfront District. Early stages of planning will analyze of the area's current building stock, pedestrian and car circulation, and land use patterns. One of the main early concerns is addressing the link between the city and the river front, a mission championed by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy for the past decade. Along with SOM, six Michigan firms—Birmingham, MI-based McIntosh Poris, Detroit-based Giffels Webster, Kraemer Design Group, AKT Peerless, Southfield, MI-Based Rich & Associates, and West Bloomfield, MI-Based E. Austell Associates—will provide local consulting. Landscape architect Michel Desvigne will also join SOM for the project. Additionally a “Creative Detroit Think Tank” will be set up by Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. New York-based HR HR&A Advisors will provide real estate, economic development and energy efficiency expertise to the project. SOM was picked from a field of seven teams which presented initial proposals in late January. Those teams were led by New York-based BJH Advisors, Boston-based STOSS Landscape Urbanism, New York-based Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), Chicago-based Gensler, and Boston-based Utile. "The selection process reflects our aspirations for promoting the Detroit waterfront as an international treasure," said Maurice Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department in a press release. "We see no better signal of this than assembling an accomplished team representing local, national and international talent." The first public meeting for East Riverfront District plan will be held on April 12th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Outdoor Adventure Center, 1801 Atwater Street, Detroit. “This project is integrally important to the continued evolution of the Detroit Riverfront,” said William Smith, CFO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy in a press release. “And, we’re looking forward to hearing what the community has to say. The community feedback we’ve received in the past helped shape what the riverfront is today. What we learn throughout this process now will shape what the riverfront will become in the future.”
The design team at MODU, in collaboration with Ho-Yan Cheung of Arup, have created an urban public space for the 5th China International Architecture Biennial. Their design pays homage to Beijing's iconic Olympic Park, while drawing attention to environmental issues in the country’s densely populated capital. The biennial committee has also commissioned designs from leading international architects such as Wang Shu, Zaha Hadid, and Mohsen Mostafavi. The dual-purpose structure not only creates a unique civic space, but also acts as a barometer for the air quality in Beijing. This “room in the city” concept does not attempt to separate people from polluted outdoor air and filtered indoor air by means of physical boundaries. Instead, the structure highlights the air pollution issue through the use of punctured openings in the walls and ceiling panels, as well as a large elliptical roof which frames the Olympic Observation Tower. On clear days, the tower can be seen perfectly through the roof frame, but on days when the pollution creates a dense grey fog, the landmark virtually disappears from sight. The outdoor room is made from recycled materials and, according to its designers, represents a new era of socially responsive design. At the end of November, the structure will be installed in six other cities in China.
The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) has announced the appointment of Iñaki Ábalos as chair of the Department of Architecture. Ábalos is currently a Professor in Residence at the GSD where he has lead studios, lectures, and seminars grounded in technology and history,with a focus on the thermodynamics of architecture. As a founding member of both Ábalos + Sentkiewicz Arquitectos and Ábalos and Herraros, his work has focused on the intersection between architecture, technology, landscape, and culture. He will assume his new post July 1, replacing current chair Preston Scott Cohen. “The School will undoubtedly benefit from his deep intellectual commitment to the field of architecture as his passion as both an educator and an architect," said Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the GSD, in a statement. "I have no doubt that he will make great contributions to the culture of collaboration within the GSD and to the rest of the university." Ábalos received his masters and PhD in architecture from Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid at the Technical University of Madrid, where he went on to teach, eventually becoming Chaired Professor and Director of the Master in environmental and landscape studies. Ábalos has since held faculty positions at Federale Lausanne, Columbia University, Princeton University, Cornell University, and the Architectural Association. He has also written extensively on architecture, with works including Le Corbusier Skyscrapers, Tower and Office, Natural-Artificial, The Good Life, and Picturesque Atlas.