This week marked the return of students to campus at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). With the highest enrollment in the School’s history of 958 students, there is much energy and excitement for the start of classes. The incoming class consisting of 398 students is fifty-two percent female and forty-eight percent male with half of the students hailing from 32 countries outside of the United States. The week began with presentations for the eighteen option studios to eligible students; seven of which have international travel components. Half of the studios are instructed by alumni including Civic Spaces in an Age of Hyper-Complexity: From Protest to Reverie with Mikyoung Kim MLA ‘92 and Bryan Chou; Refugees in the Rust Belt with Daniel D’Oca MUP ’02; and A Bank for Burbank and Other L.A. Stories with Anna Neimark MArch ’07 and Andrew Atwood. A full list of Fall 2017 option studios is available here.

The School’s Fall program of lectures, panels, and conferences kicks off on Thursday, August 31 with a Rouse Visiting Artist Lecture. The GSD will host Italian artist Luisa Lambri in conversation with Mark Lee MArch ‘95, co-artistic director of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Other events this fall include Tomas Koolhaas and the U.S. premiere of his documentary, Rem, on September 5; a talk by photographer Iwan Baan on September 12; and the second Black in Design Conference, organized by the African American Student Union, from October 6-8.


Mikyoung Kim MLA ’92, design critic in landscape architecture, presents “Civic Spaces in an Age of Hyper-Complexity: From Protest to Reverie,” which she will co-teach this semester with Bryan Chou, instructor in urban planning and design.

Highlights of Fall Public Programs and Exhibitions

Soft Thresholds: Projects of RMA Architects, Mumbai. Curated by Rahul Mehrotra,

Soft Thresholds: Projects of RMA Architects, Mumbai. Curated by Rahul Mehrotra MAUD ’87.

On September 6, Rahul Mehrotra MAUD ’87, professor of urban design and planning, will present a lecture celebrating the opening of the Gund Hall Gallery exhibition, Soft Thresholds: Projects of RMA Architects, Mumbai. Curated by Mehrotra, the show features the work of his firm and addresses some essential questions: “Can architecture and planning intentionally construct soft thresholds – lines that are easily traversed, even temporarily erased – thereby allowing for multiple perspectives across different modes of research and practice, and catalyzing disciplinary and social connections? What, then, is the physical expression of a soft threshold – a space that is visually and physically porous, plural in spirit, encompassing of its context, and yet rigorous in its expression?” It represents the compulsive drive of the practice to construct soft thresholds―through research, engagement with the city, and making of architecture.

A symposium on I. M. Pei MArch ’46, planned in collaboration with the M+ museum in Hong Kong and The University of Hong Kong (HKU), will take place on Thursday and Friday, October 12 and 13. This will be the first of two linked symposia on Pei in Fall 2017, with the second part taking place in Hong Kong in December 2017. The event builds on last spring’s special event and exhibition honoring Pei on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Day one will consist of an afternoon panel on technology followed by an evening roundtable Emergence of a Modern Practice moderated by K. Michael Hays, the Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory, associate dean for academic affairs, and chair of the department of architecture. The second day will consist of two panels: Spatial and Formal Practices and Power, Capital, and People.

With the passing of Eduard Sekler in May 2017, Jorge Silvetti, the Nelson Robinson Jr. Professor of Architecture, will give the Eduard Sekler Memorial Lecture on November 7. Following the lecture, Silvetti and Toshiko Mori, the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture will engage in a conversation. The lecture will reflect on the legacy of the late Eduard Sekler, who served as Harvard University’s Osgood Hooker Professor of Visual Art Emeritus and Professor of Architecture Emeritus at the Graduate School of Design, among other positions during his five decades at Harvard, before his passing at the age of 96 last spring. A beloved educator, scholar, mentor, and friend, Professor Sekler had a meaningful impact on the lives and careers of many of his former students and colleagues. In 2005, a group of former students set up a fellowship fund in his honor, and the first Eduard Sekler Fellow began at the GSD this fall. Interested alumni and friends may contribute to the Fund by visiting this page.

Other highlights of the Fall 2017 Program:

September 5 – U.S. premiere of “Rem,” a documentary on Rem Koolhaas produced by his son Tomas Koolhaas.
The documentary explores some of the buildings and building philosophy of celebrated Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

October 6-8 – Black in Design Conference
The School’s second Black in Design Conference, organized by the GSD’s African American Student Union, will feature a keynote by DeRay Mckesson.

October 31 – Lecture and exhibition from Toru Mitani MLA ’87
Toru Mitani is registered as a Landscape Architect in Japan, a Partner of ‘studio on site’, a Design Critic in Landscape Architecture at the GSD, and a Professor at the Graduate School of Horticulture, Chiba University.

November 9 – Erik L’Heureux will present results of Wheelwright research
Singapore-based American architect Erik L’Heureux was the 2015 winner of the Wheelwright Prize for his proposal Hot and Wet: The Equatorial City and the Architectures of Atmosphere, which focuses on the architecture of five dense cities in the equatorial zone. His research examines traditional and modern building strategies that mediate extreme climate conditions while addressing the mounting pressures of rapid urbanization and climate change.

November 2 – Patricia Urquiola will developer the Open House lecture
A Spanish architect and designer, Urquiloa studied architecture at Madrid Polytechnic and the Politecnico di Milano University. She worked at the architectural firm de Renzio and Ramerino and was head of the Lissoni Associati design group before opening her own studio in 2001. She has been named “Designer of the Year” by Wallpaper, Ad Spain, Elle Decor International, and Architektur und Wohnen.

For more information about these and other forthcoming events, consult the online calendar.