Dear Architecture Alumni,

Hello and warm greetings from Cambridge! During my first month as Chair of the Department of Architecture, this summer is a particularly special and exhilarating time—a chance to recharge and imagine all the possibilities for discovery through design.

I look forward to working together and I am immensely grateful to Dean Sarah Whiting and our community for entrusting me with this position. I take on this role with great humility and joy, in anticipation of our strong collaboration and shared stewardship of the department. The trajectory of the GSD continues to demonstrate its many strengths—including its dedicated faculty in the department and the school, outstanding GSD leadership and staff, and a brilliant cohort of students who see the world anew as emerging architects. In addition, I am consistently impressed by you, our distinguished Architecture alumni around the globe—many of whom I know personally—who unfailingly buttress our department through your remarkable achievements and contributions to the built environment. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do on behalf of our department and school.

At this moment, I am very aware that we are witnessing a sea change in matters surrounding the built environment, particularly in areas of climate, social justice, and political upheaval. We are also living amid new models of practice and numerous technological advances, including AI/machine learning, design computation, and novel materials and building systems, to name just a few. I look forward to harnessing the creativity of our community as we face these challenges together and grapple with the ways in which architectural education retains its disciplinary core while responding to innovation and evolution. The responsibility my faculty and I bear to shape the curriculum is great, yet we have never felt more supported—practically, emotionally, and intellectually, by the immense talent and energy of the GSD community. As a global leader in architectural education, the department welcomes this disciplinary call to action.

I will be brief today, and you will hear from me more fully over the coming months, when I plan to share our priorities for the department’s growth in the coming years. Primarily, I want to express my sincere thanks for the immense contributions that Professor Mark Lee MArch ’95 has made to the department, the school, and the field at large as our Department Chair for the past five years. Mark has led with deep passion, during some of the most difficult times—such as an unprecedented pandemic—and handling many challenging moments with the humor, friendship, and generosity so central to his being. His unwavering appreciation for the role of history, and for architecture’s potential to shape cultural relevance, will be felt for many years to come. Mark delivered the Walter Gropius Lecture, “Five Footnotes Toward an Architecture,” this past spring to a packed Piper Auditorium, and if you missed it, I invite you to check out the recording.

We are fortunate that after a well-deserved year away from the school, during which Mark and his partner, Sharon Johnston MArch ’95, will return to practice, we’ll have both Mark and Sharon back in the department, teaching studios and seminars and continuing to share their ongoing work in the design world. Please listen to my podcast, Talking Practice, for a recent conversation with Mark and Sharon as they reflect on the origins of their firm, their relationship to art practice, and current thoughts on architecture pedagogy.

That is all for now. As we gear up for the start of the new academic year, I am excited about the fall term ahead and energized for engagement with the world through design. I welcome hearing from you!

Until then, my best wishes to you,


Grace La MArch ’95
Chair of the Department of Architecture and Professor of Architecture
Principal, LA DALLMAN