PRATTFOLIO THE MAGAZINE OF PRAT T INSTITUTE
GOOD DESIGN Designing Solutions | Poised for Growth | Made to Move
IN FOCUS Justin Crocker (M.I.D. ’14) works with strips of leather and molded plywood to produce the chair he created for his graduate thesis project using a three-dimensional structural weaving technique he developed with the help of digital tools. The chair was shown at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City in May 2014. Crocker’s project exemplifies the Institute’s commitment to giving students access to advanced technologies that help them to enhance their artistry.
PRATTFOLIO THE MAG A ZINE OF PR AT T INSTITUTE
DESIGNING SOLUTIONS Pratt designers turn a fresh eye on New York City’s public-sector challenges.
POISED FOR GROW TH Pratt’s youth programs promote creative problem solving and critical thinking.
MADE TO MOVE Pratt alumni and faculty use design to promote healthy, active lifestyles.
6 INSIDE LOOK At Home with Arnold Syrop, B.Arch. ’61
40 RYERSON WALK Recent Campus News and Activities
30 SWATI RAMANATHAN Pratt alumna takes urban reform to the streets.
Departments 2 SOCIAL@PRAT T 3 FROM THE PRESIDENT 4 INSPIRED Lance Wyman, B.I.D. ’60: Washington, D.C., Metro Map
34 WORK IN PROGRESS Cannoneer Court Parking Lot Retrofit 36 NEW AND NOTEWORTHY Items in the Marketplace Created by Pratt Alumni, Faculty, and Students
46 BEYOND THE GATES Pratt's Presence in the Public Realm 54 FINAL THOUGHTS Modernism Unfinished
A BO U T THE C OV ER New York City Emergency Housing Prototype Adjunct Associate Professor of Graduate Architecture and Urban Design James Garrison and his firm, Garrison Architects, developed this modular postdisaster housing prototype for the New York City Office of Emergency Management. In the event of a catastrophic natural or manmade disaster that displaces city residents, the multistory, multifamily units can be deployed in less than 15 hours, in various arrangements calibrated for challenging urban conditions | Photo by Andrew Rugge/archphoto
SOCIAL @ PRATT As part of the Instituteâ€™s 125th Commencement exercises on May 16, Pratt debuted an interactive social media wall where students, family members, faculty, and friends could post to hashtag #PrattGrad14. Tweets and Instagram photos appeared on two large screens flanking the Radio City Music Hall stage where 1,337 graduate and undergraduate students received their degrees. The social media feed also accompanied a live stream of the ceremony on pratt.edu for those who were unable to attend. Hereâ€™s a selection of images shared at #PrattGrad14:
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FA L L 2014
PRATTFOLIO T H E M AG A ZI N E O F PR AT T I N S T I T U T E
FROM THE PRESIDENT Thomas F. Schutte
Prattfolio is published by the Office of Communications and Marketing in the Division of Institutional Advancement for the alumni and friends of Pratt Institute. ©2014 Pratt Institute
Since its founding in 1887, Pratt Institute has been dedicated to educating artists and creative professionals to be responsible contributors to society. The projects and people featured in this issue of Prattfolio attest to the Institute’s success in fulfilling that mission. Whether using design to address issues such as homelessness and disaster relief, developing cities that promote healthier lifestyles, or preparing disadvantaged youth for academic and professional success, Pratt alumni, faculty, and students are committed to using their skills and vision to make a tangible difference in the world. Pratt’s commitment to enhancing the community of which it is a part is particularly clear from the exciting developments on Myrtle Avenue, where we are currently creating a state-of-the-art facility to support the Institute’s enhanced Film/Video program. In addition to offering tremendous resources for teaching, this new facility will also become a cultural hub for the local filmmaking community. This initiative builds on everything we have already done to transform Myrtle Avenue into a vibrant commercial district that meets the needs of the Pratt community and local residents and businesses alike. I hope that you find this issue of Prattfolio thought provoking and inspiring. Pratt’s ability to make a meaningful impact on society and the world is due in large part to the dedication of alumni and friends like you.
Thomas F. Schutte President
Pratt Institute 200 Willoughby Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11205 V IC E PRE S IDE N T FOR INS T IT U T IO N A L A DVA N C E ME N T Todd Michael Galitz E X EC U T I V E D IREC TO R O F C O MM U NIC AT IO NS A ND M A RK E T IN G Mara McGinnis M A N AG ING E D I TOR Charlotte Savidge A S S O C I AT E C RE AT I V E D IREC TO R Kara Schlindwein S E NIO R E D ITO RI A L M A N AGE R Marion Hammon GR A PHIC DE S IGNE RS Erin Cave Nakiska Shaikh C O P Y E D ITORS Jean Gazis Lulu Sylbert S TA FF C O N T RIB U TORS Amy Aronoff Sarah Bertness Ruth Samuelson Harris Solomon Jolene Travis S E NIO R PRO D U C T IO N M A N AGE R David Dupont S TA FF PHOTO G R A PHE R Peter Tannenbaum
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INSPIRED Lance Wyman, B.I.D. ’60: Washington, D.C., Metro Map
“Instantly recognizable to anyone who has used it even once,” wrote historian Zachary M. Schrag about the map designed by Pratt alumni Lance Wyman and Bill Cannan (both B.I.D. ’60) for the 1976 inauguration of Washington’s Metro system. A pioneer in the use of icons in graphic design, Wyman was asked in 2011 to undertake the first redesign of the map to reflect changes to D.C.’s infrastructure, and in 2013, to incorporate the addition of the Silver Line. Prattfolio spoke with Wyman about creating the maps for the second-busiest rail system in the country. What inspired your map design? Bill and I were asked to create a design based on Harry Beck’s 1931 London Tube Map, which was really a diagram of train lines and stations rather than a to-scale map. I began by making studies of how to organize the pattern of lines and stations to best represent the Metro system overall. The lines were identified by color, so making them as bold as possible enhanced the color coding. The geographical elements and landmarks help create a sense of place and orientation.
What were your goals for the map? We set out to create something that emphasized Washington as a region, with the nation’s capital at its center. It had to work for people who live and work in Washington while making sense for tourists who might not know the city or speak the language.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in updating it? Showing how the Silver Line would be a vital part of the downtown service, along with the Orange
and Blue Lines, and how rush-hour service would function, were major challenges. The map couldn’t grow any larger, and had to keep major sites and destinations while maintaining an easy-to-use and readable interface. In the end, I reduced the width of the lines and created a new symbol that shows how the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines connect.
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Above: The updated Washington, D.C., Metro Map, which includes the Silver Line, went into use in July 2014. Opposite: The original Washington, D.C., Metro Map released in 1976 | Images courtesy of WMATA
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INSIDE LOOK At Home with Arnold Syrop, B.Arch. ’61
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Above: One of the African bronze miniatures from Syrop’s extensive collection Right: Arnold Syrop Opposite: On display in the Syrops’ living room is a mix of pieces that includes African sculpture and works by his wife, Joanne.
“We don’t decorate; we live with pieces we enjoy,” says Arnold Syrop of the eclectic apartment he and his wife, Joanne, call home. Among the most prized pieces with which they live are the 250 African bronze miniatures that Syrop has collected over the past 35 years. The founder and principal of Arnold Syrop Associates, an architectural and interior design firm with clients ranging from Hilton Hotels to Madison Square Garden, Syrop was first drawn to African art for its abstraction of the human form, a quality he believes it shares with much of modern art. Current projects include a refurbishment of Smith and Wollensky, the landmark steakhouse, which he originally designed in 1979. Initially, he collected wooden sculptures but soon became interested in bronze miniatures for the lyrical and monumental
qualities he finds in them. “Bronze miniatures are to wooden sculptures what a sketch is to an oil painting,” he says. The pieces range in height from one-and-a-half to nine inches tall and come from Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Mali, where they were made to be used as talismans and divination pieces, or as units of mass to weigh gold. Syrop frequently loans pieces from his collection to museums, giving the public the opportunity to develop a greater appreciation for these miniature masterpieces. Since February 2014, twelve of his Dogon pieces from Mali have been on display in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Samuel H. and Linda M. Lindenbaum Gallery. In 2012, the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York, featured miniature Kotoko bronze equestrian figurines from his collection in the exhibition Unraveling the Art of the Lake Chad Basin. With so many exquisite pieces in his collection, is any single one particularly special to Syrop? The answer is easy: “My favorite piece is the last one I bought.”
Pratt designers turn a fresh eye on By Harris Solomon
New York Cityâ€™s public-sector challenges.
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At its root, design is about problem-solving. A growing community of Pratt architects, industrial designers, and artists are capitalizing on this defining aspect of design to take on issues ranging from disaster relief to homelessness. When it comes to addressing some of New York City’s greatest challenges, they are leading the charge by using design to respond to community needs and view entrenched problems in creative new ways. Preparing for Disaster Around the world, a natural disaster that displaces an average of 10,000 people occurs on a weekly basis. However, extreme natural disasters—and the displacement and disorientation that often follow in their wake—are a new phenomenon for New Yorkers. James Garrison, adjunct associate professor of Graduate Architecture and Urban Design at Pratt, and his graduate students, are working to help New York prepare for these increasingly frequent events. Garrison recently finished work on the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM)’s Interim Disaster Housing Prototype, a cutting-edge model for how the production, assembly, and placement of disaster housing can be substantially improved. The prototype addresses numerous intertwined issues, including the high cost of disaster response,
how to house people quickly and affordably, and how to enable local communities to stay intact in the face of large-scale disasters. Garrison’s prototype features three cost-effective pre-fabricated modular units, which were fully manufactured and outfitted in Indiana before being shipped to OEM’s headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn, where they are currently on display. Once the units are on site, they can be assembled and hooked into utility lines in a matter of hours.
Kobe earthquake stayed in their relief housing nearly 20 years. Those findings encouraged Garrison to design disaster units that represent a radical departure from the standard model by emphasizing community and a sense of permanence for those who are temporarily without shelter. “These have to be seen as spaces that are not compromised in quality,” says Garrison. “After all, the only difference between someone who is homeless and someone who doesn’t have a house is the house.”
These units have the potential to create instant communities that mimic Brooklyn row houses and feel like real homes, an important quality for disaster victims, who often remain in their temporary accommodation much longer than envisioned. For example, in their research, Garrison’s students found that people displaced by Japan’s
Raising Awareness In the case of current Graduate Communications Design students Caroline Matthews (Class of ’15) and Alejandro Torres Viera (Class of ’15), Opposite: Interim Disaster Housing Prototype designed by Pratt faculty member James Garrison | Photo by Andrew Rugge/archphoto
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“Design isn’t a solution to social problems, but it is a tool to help amazing organizations do what they do better.”
and recent alumnus John Olson (M.S. Communications Design ’14), it wasn’t the type, but rather the noticeable lack of housing that motivated them to draw attention to a crucial social concern in New York City. Their collaborative project, “Invisible in NYC,” is a guerrilla awareness campaign that seeks to highlight the city’s pervasive struggles with homelessness while emphasizing housing-affordability issues. The trio first created the project in response to an assignment given by Jean Brennan, adjunct associate professor of Graduate Communications and Package Design, in her special-project studio class, “Designing for Mindful Interaction.” The course grew out of the work of Public Project, a collective of Pratt professors and students looking to increase social awareness among designers. For “Invisible in NYC,” Matthews, Olson, and Torres Viera began by using colorful tape to mark the public spaces where homeless New Yorkers had been spotted sleeping. Their use of negative space jarred pedestrians into considering these otherwise invisible homes while informational signs posted alongside the taped-off space highlighted facts and
figures about homelessness, as well as calculations of the average cost per square foot of the occupied space in various neighborhoods around New York City. Engaged New Yorkers were encouraged to tweet photos and statements to the mayor’s office in order to heighten the administration’s awareness of the issue of homelessness. With an easy to customize and scalable model, the initiative was designed to allow for replication in other cities and communities.
Addressing Community Needs Pratt Alumna Kristina Drury (M.I.D. ’09) understands that sometimes she can have the greatest impact through small changes. Drury discovered this during her final year at Pratt when she began working with St. John’s Bread and Life, a nonprofit that works with high-needs populations. As part of her thesis, Drury redesigned the inside of the organization’s mobile soup kitchen, a converted RV that travels to different sites across New York City in order to serve hot meals and provide social services. She made crucial modifications to the interior of the space, including the addition of a new folding table and serving area, as well as vastly increased
storage. Thanks to these smart design changes to function and usability, the organization has since been able to better serve clients. St. John’s Bread and Life later contacted Drury and her newly founded firm, TYTHEdesign, about helping to design a new mobile soup kitchen from the ground up. After volunteering, and observing the “Hunger Hunter” in action, Drury and her team were able to substantially improve client flow, reconfiguring and relocating the private meeting space to the back of the vehicle, which hit the streets in 2013. This new design resulted in fewer interruptions to serving, and more privacy, which in turn afforded clients the time to access on-site services, including counseling, benefits assistance, and housing referrals. “Kristina was tremendously influential because she understood our needs and was able to put them in context,” says Anthony Butler, executive director of St. John’s Bread and Life. “We knew the pieces we needed, but Kristina
Opposite: “Invisible in NYC” project by Caroline Matthews, Alejandro Torres Viera, and John Olson Image courtesy of Caroline Matthews
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understood how they fit together.” Indeed, it was this client knowledge that helped Drury deliver a design that reflected their needs. Says Drury: “Design isn’t a solution to social problems, but it is a tool to help amazing organizations do what they do better. It’s about leaving what you think you want at the door and finding innovation and opportunity through constraint.”
Going Forward Design is increasingly becoming a tool for smart intervention on social issues. In fact, as the world collectively faces large hurdles like climate change and disaster relief, there are opportunities for good design to examine problems that, up until now, have defied effective longterm solutions. Pratt faculty, students, and alumni are well-positioned to play
an even greater role in the expanding conversation about the social challenges facing New York City and other urban centers. “Pratt faculty have always seen themselves as practitioners as well as educators,” says Garrison. “The combination of social and cultural awareness that Pratt faculty and students bring to their work is truly unique— and stands to benefit New York City for generations to come.” Above: Exterior of the “Hunger Hunter II” mobile soup kitchen designed by Pratt alumna Kristina Drury and TYTHEdesign; Opposite: Garrison Architects also worked with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Design and Construction to develop 37 New York City Parks Beach Restoration Modules, such as these on the Coney Island boardwalk. These flood-proof structures, which received the New York City Public Design Commission Award, were deployed in 15 sites to replace public lifeguard and comfort stations destroyed along New York City’s coastline by Hurricane Sandy. | Photo by Andrew Rugge/archphoto
“It’s about leaving what you think you want at the door and finding innovation and opportunity through constraint.”
Poised for Growth
Prattâ€™s youth programs promote creative problem solving and critical thinking. By Alix Finkelstein
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For Brooklyn high-school students Alyssa Contreras and Jack Harewood—two former Saturday Art School students who are now promising Pratt Young Scholars—being a part of the Institute’s community of artists and designers has made for a lasting and life-changing experience. “I have to have art in my life,” says Harewood, who first enrolled in Pratt’s youth programs while in kindergarten. In the nine years that followed, he rarely missed a Saturday morning of art and design classes. Contreras came to Pratt at age 10, recommended for a full scholarship by her middleschool art teacher Ryan Minezzi (B.F.A/M.S. Art and Design Education ’05)—himself a former student teacher in Pratt’s historic Saturday Art School who now teaches at Fort Greene Preparatory Academy in Brooklyn. Contreras also became a regular and devoted student of Saturday Art School, a program that offers a broad range of classes and encourages children to explore different materials and techniques. These early-learning experiences prepared Harewood and Contreras for admittance into the Institute’s select scholarship program for highschool students and nurtured their dreams of a college education. “When I am on campus, I feel what it would be like to be in college—with tasks, assignments, and deadlines. It gives me a satisfying sense of the responsibility,” says Contreras. “Plus, with the art everywhere, the campus inspires me to improve and make more art.” Harewood and Contreras are among the more than 300 children and teens currently on campus throughout the year to take part in Pratt Institute’s Art and Design Education programs for students ages five to 18. These community-centered learning experiences, which also include Summer Design and Design Initiative for Community Empowerment Opposite: Alyssa Contreras, Pratt Young Scholar
(DICE), encourage motivated students from families with limited resources to develop their creative potential and intellectually benefit from the interdisciplinary thinking around art and design education that are a hallmark of Pratt’s Art and Design Education Department programming. Most important, regular contact with Pratt’s faculty empowers these children—who largely attend schools with limited art and design learning opportunities—to envision themselves as future creative professionals and agents of social change. For prior students, the impact has been profound. “Having the opportunity to actually construct something, with the direction of the art teachers, that results in a finished product gave me a sense of accomplishment and possibility,” says Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a former Saturday Art School student who now represents New York’s Eighth Congressional District, which encompasses areas in Brooklyn and a small part of Queens. “In public affairs and politics, a variety of skills are necessary to be successful, including the ability to be creative in how you reach out and touch people. The creative aspects of who I am today can certainly be attributed in a meaningful way to my experiences in Pratt’s classrooms,” adds Representative Jeffries. Since its founding, Pratt Institute has shared its resources with the community at large, but today the need is greater than ever. “Despite New York State Education Department requirements that mandate minimum hours of art instruction in New York’s public schools, there is weakening support
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“Saturday Art School played a huge part in building Alyssa’s artistic identity and helped her develop creative problem-solving skills and expand her visual expression.”
for studio-based instruction in art and design for children,” says Aileen Wilson, acting chair of the Department of Art and Design Education. She explains, “While we cannot replace those lost hours of instruction, our department forges important partnerships with New York schools to identify those with the interest and the need and works to prepare those students for an art and design college education. It’s our aim to help these children deepen their art and design learning and thrive in a college environment.” With these goals in mind, Wilson spearheaded the recent launch of the Institute’s Pratt Young Scholars program. With initial support from the Pratt Innovation Fund and a generous grant from the Pinkerton Foundation, the program provides full scholarships to 15 Brooklyn high-school students to receive a four-year immersive studio education taught by Pratt art and design faculty and mentored by current Pratt students. Harewood and Contreras were among the first group of rising high-school freshmen chosen as Pratt Young Scholars. They are determined to succeed, both in the studio and the world at large. Being a Pratt Young Scholar is a rigorous undertaking that requires students to commit to college-level learning on Pratt’s campus three times a week while maintaining good academic standing in their high schools. As Contreras and Harewood enter their second year in the program, their families, teachers, and mentors report that these students are already reaping the benefits of their hard work. “Jack was nervous at first,” recalls his mother, Paula Harewood, “because [being] a Pratt Young Scholar is a big commitment when you are just starting high school.” But Harewood learned to balance his academics and Pratt and is thriving at Edward R. Murrow High School. “I want to be the first one in my family to go to college,” Harewood
says, “and I think my best shot at a college education is through my art.” Steven Romero, Harewood’s global studies teacher, is impressed with Harewood’s ambition. “I know Jack as that student who excels in my class, helps others learn, is a leader, and displays a wicked sense of humor,” he says. “I wish I had more students like him.” Minezzi reports similar strengths in his former student Contreras. “Alyssa was always motivated and pushed through challenges, artistic and academic, with a sense of purpose and creativity,” Minezzi says. “Saturday Art School played a huge part in building Alyssa’s artistic identity and helped her develop creative problem-solving skills and expand her visual expression. It gave her the necessary outlet to grow in ways that traditional schools rarely can.” Contreras’s mother, Lisa Contreras, agrees, adding, “Our family has endured a fair amount of hardship, and being part of Pratt’s youth programs has helped my daughter to cope. Alyssa has always used her art to enhance herself as a person. It gives her direction and a clear sense of purpose.” Both Contreras and Harewood credit the attentive and inspiring work of Pratt’s faculty as significant contributors to their advancement. Add to these important relationships the field trips, studio visits, workshops, and lectures, and it is clear that Pratt’s youth programs provide an enriching learning experience that benefits young people in the classroom and beyond. For more information on Pratt’s youth programs, visit pratt.edu/youth.
Opposite: Jack Harewood, Pratt Young Scholar
MOVE Pratt alumni and faculty use design to promote healthy, active lifestyles.
By Nick Friedman
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Above: Pedestrian plaza at Times Square | Photo courtesy of Snohetta Previous spread: Bike lane on Allen Street | Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Transportation
If all goes according to schedule, sometime next year the stretch of Broadway that runs through Times Square will be completely transformed into a pedestrian plaza. Instead of blaring horns and speeding taxis, visitors will find tables, chairs, benches, and planters in place to provide opportunities for socializing in a safe environment. With such a bold reimagining, it’s easy to envision Playbill-carrying audience members enjoying a post performance stroll under the neon lights. The Times Square transformation, first piloted in 2009, will no doubt attract even more international attention than The Crossroads of the World already enjoys. The reborn site will also serve as a prime example of many environmental design reforms initiated by New York over the past decade that are intended to foster more physical activity among its residents. It’s well established that the U.S.
faces a health crisis of chronic diseases linked to a sedentary lifestyle, and New York’s city planners, designers, and architects are not sitting idly by. Indeed, New York is an acknowledged leader in the field of active design, and Pratt alumni and professors are at the forefront of the movement. Its chief proponent is Associate Professor of Architecture David Burney, who joined Pratt last January after serving for nearly a decade as commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). In 2011, thenMayor Michael Bloomberg formed the nonprofit Center for Active Design. Burney is its chairman. The Center’s stated mission is to “reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases by promoting
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Modified intersection with bike lanes at Union Square | Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Transportation
physical activity and healthy food access through the design of buildings, streets, and neighborhoods.” “Active design really started when I was working for the city and Tom Frieden was health commissioner,” says Burney, who teaches a course at Pratt on the subject. “First he got rid of smoking in public places, and then the focus was put on the second-most important health problem in New York—obesity and related health issues. Since past contributions from architects and planners have helped create the sedentary lifestyle that’s connected to obesity, the DDC wanted to bring architects and planners into the fight.” Joining the offensive against a major health crisis is not without precedent among New York’s urban planners. In the late 19th century, long before widespread immunization, infectious diseases such as cholera and typhoid were the leading cause of mortality in the city, with frequent outbreaks stemming largely from overcrowded conditions in tenements without access to potable water, light
and ventilation, or standard sanitation. Changes to building codes and environmental design (as well as modern medical technologies) helped reduce the death rate from infectious diseases from 57 percent in 1880 to 11 percent by 1940. Today, the leading cause of mortality in New York is chronic diseases, which cause 75 percent of annual deaths, a statistic that mirrors the national rate.
“The focus was put on the second-most important health problem in New York—obesity and related health issues.” The implementation of active design principles during Burney’s tenure can be seen throughout New York. Some are subtle, some overt. Times Square is a spectacular example from the NYC Plaza Project, which is overseen by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Other such plazas are far smaller, but all are designed with the objective to be
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“We need to integrate health and movement into our lives in a fun and healthy way.”
an “easily accessible space that promotes walking by providing pedestrians with a safe, comfortable place to gather, play, or simply watch things go by,” as stated in the Active Design Guidelines, a 135page collection of evidence-based strategies for professional designers issued by the Center in 2010.
who until this past June served as director of capital project planning and initiation for the DOT, where he helped deliver the Plaza Program as well as greenway projects, “whether it’s making it more pleasurable to walk by widening the sidewalk, making it more fun to bike, or easier to reach public transit.”
The High Line is another showcase. According to the Guidelines, the 1.5-mile-long park, which opened in 2009, illustrates “how cities as dense as New York can look for creative opportunities to carve recreational spaces out of the existing urban fabric.” On the more modest side, the Guidelines reference the strategic placement of stairways in new building designs. Locating a set of stairs near lobby elevators, it turns out, gets people climbing as an alternative to waiting for the next elevator.
While Flynn and Burney concentrate on big-picture city planning, Pratt alumna Robyne Sarah Corcoran (M.S. Architecture ’05) focuses on individual and community-centric design. As co-founder of Urban Movement Design (UMD), Corcoran helped establish the landmark Fit City conferences—an annual event hosted by the New York City chapter of the American Institute of Architects in collaboration with the Health Department and DDC—that promotes the exchange of active design ideas. Corcoran’s numerous presentations included UMD’s imaginative line of street furniture, such as park benches and bike racks that encourage the human body to stretch, informed in part by her background as a certified yoga teacher.
“We’re not saying that everybody has to go to the gym every day,” says Burney. “We’re saying, ‘as you go about your daily life, think about ways to be more active.’ ” Certainly the most visible evidence of active design for many New Yorkers is the expansion of the number of bike lanes throughout the city. More than 250 miles have been added since 2006, contributing to a 13 percent increase in commuter cycling between 2009 and 2010. Pratt alumnus Mike Flynn (M.S. City and Regional Planning ’06) can claim a good chunk of credit for all those new pedal pushers. Flynn served as the DOT’s project manager of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs from January 2005 to September 2007. During that time, he planned and implemented a wide range of safety and public-space projects that included traffic-calming features such as curb extensions to slow driving speeds. “It’s all about how we use the urban environment to incentivize more physical activity,” says Flynn,
“We need to integrate health and movement into our lives in a fun and healthy way,” says Corcoran. Whether active design will become mainstream is difficult to say, but Burney is optimistic. Since the publication of the Guidelines, more than 4,000 copies have been downloaded from the DDC website, including 1,500 from outside of New York and 1,500 from other countries worldwide. “We went through a phase of talking about sustainable design,” says Burney, “and now everybody’s trying to build more sustainably. People are now thinking about designing for health. It’s a paradigm shift.”
Opposite: Urban Movement Design’s UNIRE/UNITE project at MAXXI Plaza | Photo courtesy of MAXXI Museum, Rome, Italy
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Pratt Public Program Focuses on Innovative Solutions That Transform Urban Life. By Ruth Samuelson
Julie Lasky Deputy Editor, Home section, The New York Times MODERATOR
Wendy E. Brawer Founder and Director, Green Map System
David Burney Associate Professor, Planning and Placemaking, Pratt Institute; former Commissioner, New York City Department of Design and Construction
Christine Gaspar Executive Director, Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)
Jason Schupbach Director of Design, the National Endowment for the Arts
The Institute launched its new public programs series, Pratt Presents, in spring 2014 with a series of panels including “Designer City: How Innovative Solutions Transform Urban Life,” copresented with the Museum of Arts and Design. The panel was moderated by Julie Lasky, deputy editor of The New York Times’s Home section, and featured design activist Wendy Brawer, founder of Green Map System; David Burney, an associate professor of Planning and Placemaking at Pratt and former commissioner of the city’s Department of Design and Construction; Christine Gaspar, executive director of the Center for Urban Pedagogy; and Jason Schupbach, director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts. The discussion exemplified the combination of bold thinkers, big ideas, and brilliant dialogue that Pratt Presents aims to offer through a robust series of free programs that are open to the public. For “Designer City,” Lasky and the panel tackled topics ranging from rent stabilization to traffic engineering. The four speakers represent a wide variety of design backgrounds, including communications design, urban planning, and design management. To start, each participant discussed a particular project they had worked on that exemplified design with a social conscience. Brawer described how Green Map System has developed a set of map icons with labels like “Healthy Dining,” “Contaminated Site,” and “Recycling” that are accessible to people around the world. Groups can organize to create maps using this universal iconography. “From the very first day, this project has been collaborative,” said Brawer. The results are substantial: to date, maps have been created in 900 cities in 65 countries.
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Clockwise from top left: Julie Lasky (moderator), Wendy Brawer, David Burney, Jason Schupbach, Christine Gaspar | Photos by Alex Weber
“At its best, design can make the world more equitable.” Similarly, Gaspar discussed her work connecting graphic designers, filmmakers, and animators with local citizens’ groups and nonprofits that need help explaining complicated policies to their constituents. Working together, the designers and their clients create illuminating infographics, posters, and other pieces.
“I would like to see infrastructure diversify around the city.” “At its best, design can make the world more equitable,” said Gaspar. “We see our work as helping to provide tools so people can better advocate for themselves.”
Later, the panelists were asked what they find most encouraging and dispiriting about New York City’s streets. That was an easy one for Burney: “The most dispiriting thing is the garbage. Why can’t people throw their garbage away?” On the other hand, Burney was impressed by the revamped Times Square and other places that have created more spaces for pedestrians, café tables, and trees—rather than favoring cars. Responding to the same question, Schupbach said, “I would like to see infrastructure diversify around the city.” “This is a wonderful city,” he added. “Why do we need to have the same newsstand everywhere?” “Designer City” was one of three events in May organized by Pratt Presents and promoted as part of NYCxDESIGN, a citywide celebration spread throughout all five boroughs that combines several elements of design, such as exhibitions, trade shows, and open studios.
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Pratt alumna takes urban reform to the streets.
By Nick Friedman
Swati Ramanathan (M.S. ’95) came to the United States seeking the road to success; now she’s charting a similar course for her home country of India. Ramanathan is one of the most forceful advocates for bringing order and discipline to India’s notoriously chaotic urban environments. As founder of the Jana Urban Space Foundation, a nonprofit focused on improving planning and policy in Indian cities, Ramanathan combines her professional expertise with a deft political touch to enact visible change. Her hand is evident in design plans for city centers and in the establishment of civic organizations for local input into decision making. Ramanathan grew up comfortably middle class in India during a time, she says, when “there were still nice streets and urbanization hadn’t hit yet.” She worked briefly as a designer before moving in 1989 to New Haven, Connecticut, with her husband, Ramesh Ramanathan, so that he could pursue his M.B.A. at Yale. After she graduated from Pratt, Ramanathan worked for a
Connecticut architectural firm for two years before the couple relocated to London, where she continued her career. Ramanathan’s experiences in the West gave her a perspective that set her on a course for the future. “I was impressed by how well things worked,” she says, “the attention to detail, the existence of attractive public places. I was also very struck by the spirit of volunteering and the citizen’s role in democracy. It inspired me to want to give back to India in a similar way.” By 1998, the couple was financially secure enough to leave their careers and fulfill a goal of returning to their homeland to give back. But in a nation with a population of more than 1 billion, beset by enormous problems related to poverty, overcrowding, and bureaucracy, the question was: where to begin? The answer lay in Swati Ramanathan’s childhood. “Buildings, cities, and public places fascinated me as a child,” she says. “I was very aware of when space made me feel good. And when it didn’t, I was conscious of how it impacted me. Opposite: Swati Ramanathan | Photo by Rajesh Khan
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When I returned to India, I could not escape from seeing the gaping holes in city planning and design.” Considering India’s cities, Ramanathan cites an overwhelming sense of “spatial cacophony,” resulting from bad traffic patterns, environmental degradation, and ad-hoc planning, that contributes to a “disquieting sense of persistent urban chaos and a poor quality of living.” To begin to address those issues, Ramanathan organized community workshops on civic participation to unite local and state governments and break down bureaucratic resistance.
“I was very aware of when space made me feel good. And when it didn’t, I was conscious of how it impacted me. ” In 2009, Ramanthan produced the master plan for Jaipur which was the catalyst for India’s first National Urban Spatial Planning and Development Guidelines. They provide planners and architects with a framework for city planning centered on three themes: economics, equity, and environment. More recently, Ramanathan has brought focus to renovating the streetscape. She believes the madness of India’s city roads—with their nonexistent lane markings, broken sidewalks, potholes, litter, and mishmash of infrastructure—is symptomatic of the dysfunction of Indian cities in general. In 2010, she introduced Tender SURE, or Specifications for Urban Road Executions, under the Jana Foundation umbrella, to address the issue. Above: Before and after images of Vittal Mallya Road in Bangalore | Photos courtesy of the Jana Urban Space Foundation Opposite, top: Before image of Walton Road in Bangalore; Bottom: After image of Walton Road | Photos courtesy of the Jana Urban Space Foundation
“Large-scale change is actually possible.” Drawing on research into road standards in cities such as London and Singapore, Tender SURE creates design and procurement standards for Indian roads that municipal agencies and construction crews can use for building and maintenance guidance. From the streamlining of traffic lanes and pedestrian paths to the locating of underground utilities, from landscaping and street-furniture placement to the space designated for street vendors, the guidelines are intended to improve safety, aesthetics, and cooperation among the government agencies with a stake in the outcome. The city of Bangalore currently has seven Tender SURE roads under way. I.S.N. Prasad, principal secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office of the Government of Karnataka, calls the Bangalore project a “big leap forward.” “I believe that urban India, at least as far as the roads and cities are concerned, would be a completely different picture if Tender SURE specifications become the basis for road making,” Prasad said. Leading an entire nation down the road to success is a tall order, of course. Ramanathan, who credits Pratt with helping her learn how to ask questions in order to get results, says that in the case of India, it’s a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process. “That’s often frustrating,” she says, “but it helps to know that change can really happen when you have integrity and are relentless. Large-scale change is actually possible.” Now that truly is a big leap forward.
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WORK IN PROGRESS Cannoneer Court Parking Lot Retrofit
Not many see the potential for innovation in a patch of asphalt. But for Pratt School of Architecture Professors Jaime Stein (M.S. Environmental Planning ’08) and Paul Mankiewicz, these very spaces are opportunities to make the world a greener place and help create a new model for how we approach sustainable living. Stein, visiting assistant professor and coordinator of the Sustainable Environmental Systems Program, and Mankiewicz, a visiting associate professor in the Graduate Center for Planning, are behind the Cannoneer Court Parking Lot Retrofit project, which will soon begin construction on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus. Using funding from a Green Infrastructure Grant from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the parking lot will be retrofitted with new surfaces and materials to minimize water runoff into city sewers, as well as to provide an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of managing rainwater and snowmelt in a responsible way. The Cannoneer Court Parking Lot Retrofit is the latest example of Pratt’s efforts to meld collaboration and smart design with innovative thinking. Instead of repaving the entire lot, which floods during periods of heavy rain, Mankiewicz came up with a concept that blended traditional green features with the strategic use of cutting-edge materials. This combination guides excess water to places where it can sink into the ground and eventually evaporate into the atmosphere.
A series of trenches will channel rainwater into planted areas, known as bioswales, which will filter it before it enters the ground. From there, the water will flow into a nearby rain garden, which, along with porous pavers, will let the water seep into the ground and keep it out of the sewer system. All plantings will use native plants that take up water through their roots and turn it into gas quickly, a process known as evapotranspiration. These plants will allow the lot to more quickly absorb the large amounts of water produced during storms, rapid snowmelt, and flooding.
“It's all about potential for replication. We want to create a blueprint for green retrofitting, starting at Pratt.” “The beauty of the design is that we are looking at how the water flows over the space,” says Stein. The team estimates that the newly retrofitted lot will capture 2.5 inches of rainfall during an eight-hour storm, equivalent to more than 68,000 gallons. This will help to keep Pratt from contributing to New York City’s combined sewer overflows (CSOs), which result from New York’s continued reliance on a century-old sewer system. Each year in New York City alone, more than 27 billion gallons of polluted storm water, snowmelt, and raw sewage flow directly
into New York’s waterways during heavy rains through CSO outfall points, which are located at 460 sites along the city’s waterfront. From its inception, the project has been defined by collaboration among faculty, staff, and students. The Pratt Center for Community Development encouraged Stein and Mankiewicz to apply for the DEP grant, and the parking lot was first identified for improvements during conversations with Pratt’s Facilities Department. Stein and Mankiewicz worked with graduate students to develop the proposal, and once the grant was approved, hired Green Infrastructure Fellows to help coordinate design and implementation. Construction on the parking lot should be completed late fall 2014, and Stein and Mankiewicz hope that the environmental impact will stretch far beyond campus. The lot design could potentially serve as a model for low-cost, high-impact retrofits that would capture large amounts of water. Because the process can be completed with little disruption to parking capacity, large institutions and commercial centers could be more receptive to similarly retrofitting their parking with an eye towards sustainability. Stein says, “It’s all about potential for replication. We want to create a blueprint for green retrofitting, starting at Pratt.”
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Above, top: an aerial view rendering of the retrofitted Cannoneer Court Parking Lot surrounded by rain gardens and native plantings; Bottom: excess water will flow along paved trenches into newly planted bioswales. | Images courtesy of Marcel Negret, M.S. Environmental Planning â€™16
The Cannoneer Court Parking Lot Retrofit is the latest example of Prattâ€™s efforts to meld collaboration and smart design with innovative thinking.
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NEW AND NOTEWORTHY Items in the Marketplace Created by Pratt Alumni, Faculty, and Students
Driftwood Docking Station
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line
Olivia Turrell $72
Michael Gibney (B.F.A. Painting ’05) $25
Docksmith and former Pratt Photography student Olivia Turrell create the perfect compromise between technology and nature. Each piece of the driftwood docking station collection is handcrafted to accommodate an Apple iPhone and/or iPad, and is upgradable for any future gadget innovations. The weather-worn wood gives a natural contrast to a glossy electronic device, and the one-of-a-kind piece makes a bold accessory for an office, table, or nightstand. Available at Anthropologie, and online at www. docksmithshop.com and www.uncommongoods.com.
Detailing 24 hours behind the doors of an upscale New York restaurant kitchen, Sous Chef author Michael Gibney shares an irresistible fly-on-the-wall view of the food service industry. The precise prose and unique second-person perspective create an immersive, exciting tale that Anthony Bourdain calls, “a terrific nutsand-bolts account of the real business of cooking as told from the trenches.” Available at www.amazon.com.
POP! Drop Earrings Bita Pourtavoosi (B.F.A. Fine Arts ’10) $150 With experience designing for large brands such as Vera Wang and Trina Turk, Bita Pourtavoosi combines Ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern motifs with her background in painting to create handmade jewelry that is playful and modern while maintaining a balanced, classic aesthetic. Her emerald-green earrings, part of her new POP! collection, exude a unique elegance. Available at www.bitapourtavoosi.com.
All photos courtesy of the artists unless otherwise noted
Rope Settee Ana Jones (B.I.D. ’14) $3,500 Ana Jones’s Rope Settee is the result of a collaboration with Fab.com and received second place in its First Things First design competition. The small love seat is crafted from rope and metal tubing, and the soft cotton rope panels replace the need for upholstery. Available at www.anakjones.com.
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3-D-Printed Napkin Ring Set
Sebastian Misiurek (B. Arch. ’09), visiting professor, School of Architecture Arianna Lebed (B. Arch. ’13) $20
Screech Owl Design Note Cards Jacqueline Schmidt (M.A. Creative Arts Therapy ’05) $4.50 (single note card and envelope) With an eye for color and quirky design, Jacqueline Schmidt blends intrusions from the natural world into urban living throughout the posters, note cards, and prints she creates at her Brooklyn-based company Screech Owl Design. While the note cards encourage handwritten expressions, Schmidt’s playful products could also easily be framed as artwork. Her 100 percent-recycled paper goods can be found in hundreds of stores worldwide and have been featured in Time Out New York, Dwell, O at Home, and the New York Post’s Style section. Available at retailers nationwide and at www.screechowldesign.com.
By combining 3-D printing technology and a background in architecture, Simplus Design co-founders Sebastian Misiurek and Arianna Lebed create intricately imagined and well-designed household goods. Their four-piece plastic napkin ring set has a distinctive faceted geometric pattern and a selection of three color options—white, black, and red. Available at www.etsy.com/shop/SimplusDesign.
Look! Ted Lewin (B.F.A. Illustration ’56) $15
Ted Lewin illustrates his children’s book Look! with beautiful paintings of animals he has seen on his journeys to Africa. The realistic pencil-and-watercolor paintings showcase the animals in their natural habitats by conveying their personalities and emphasizing environmental lighting. Look! is also the recipient of the Cornell Book Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Informational Text. Available at www.barnesandnoble.com.
RC-1 Silver Anodized Aluminum Record Storage Unit David Stanavich (B.F.A. ’89) $4,750 Metal fabricator David Stanavich’s line of vinyl record storage systems debuted in spring 2014 at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show and was a hit at the 2014 BKLYNdesigns and ICFF juried shows. Custom-made in Brooklyn of durable, sturdy, and lightweight aluminum that is anodized to create a decorative corrosionresistant finish, each RC-1 unit holds up to 300 longplaying albums, or LPs, in an easily accessible mobile cart. Available at www.waxrax.com.
Submissions Alumni, Faculty, and Students We invite submissions to New and Noteworthy. Send information and images of your latest creation for sale in the marketplace to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “New and Noteworthy.”
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RYERSON WALK Recent Campus News and Activities
L to R: Stephen Hilger, Peter Kayafas, Thomas Palmer, Lee Friedlander, Richard Benson, Katy Homans, and Russ Abell
Iconic Photographer Lee Friedlander Gives Talk to Launch Exhibition of His Work at Pratt Library Lee Friedlander, one of America’s most prolific and celebrated photographers, participated in a rare talk to students on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus in May. Friedlander appeared alongside longtime collaborators who have helped reproduce his iconic images in books: master photographic printer Richard Benson, graphic designer Katy Homans, and printer Thomas Palmer. Held on April 30, the event coincided with the opening of Lee Friedlander: The Printed Picture, an exhibition including five decades of Friedlander’s monographs, held at the Pratt Library. The discussion was moderated by Stephen Hilger, chair of Pratt’s Photography Department. Benson, Homans, and Palmer provided insights into and anecdotes about the bookmaking
process with the award-winning artist to current photography seniors and special invited guests. Friedlander, who received an honorary degree from Pratt in 2013, has said, “The book is more my medium than the wall.” The discussion revealed how intimately Friedlander is involved in the bookmaking process and showcased how the production process has changed with the shift from analog to digital technologies. The exhibition, which was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, was curated by Hilger and Visiting Associate Professor of Photography Peter Kayafas and was on display until early October at the Pratt Library on the Brooklyn campus.
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A student in the Pre-College Architectural Design Studio works on a model. | Photo by Nika De Carlo
Architectural Design Studio Pre-College Program Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Carolyn Bransford MacDonald Elected to Board of Trustees
Professor Brent Porter has devoted 20 years of Saturday afternoons to teaching Pratt Institute’s Pre-College “Architectural Design Studio” class on the Manhattan campus, giving countless high-school students essential basic skills that they need to enroll in a college architecture program and prepare for a professional career in the field.
As a generous supporter of Pratt Institute, Carolyn Bransford MacDonald understands the Institute well and will draw on that experience in her role as the newest member of the Board of Trustees.
For many of the students, the Pre-College program becomes just the first step in their education at Pratt Institute. “Twenty-five to 33 percent of our Saturday students enroll in the School of Architecture, choosing Pratt Institute over several other programs,” Porter says. Students leave the class with a fully developed architectural model and material that they can use in their portfolios when they apply for college. Porter, who teaches in the School of Architecture and is now in his 42nd year at Pratt, has seen a number of changes in his students and their work over the years. “Students are more sophisticated now. Young people have traveled more, and they have experienced more architecture than in the past,” he explains. What motivates Porter to keep teaching the “Design Studio” class? “The designs just keep getting better and better,” he says with a smile.
MacDonald, whose appointment was effective on July 1, 2014, is the widow of Robert Ian MacDonald, a great-grandson of Pratt Institute founder Charles Pratt. The MacDonalds established the MacDonald Scholarship at Pratt to benefit deserving undergraduate students throughout the Institute. The MacDonalds have also supported the Institute’s Student Emergency Fund, which provides onetime assistance to students who encounter an unforeseen financial emergency or catastrophic event that would otherwise prevent them from continuing their education at Pratt. A former vice president and portfolio manager at the United States Trust Company of New York, MacDonald retired in 1989 after a long career in financial services. MacDonald serves as vice chair of the Bransford Land Company, trustee emerita of the American Museum in Britain and is a board member of Phoenix Brands (a division of Lincolnshire Capital), the Halcyon Foundation, the American Associates of the National Theatre, and the 564 Preservation Foundation. She is also the author of Partners, published by Newhouse.
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Work by Michael Jerome Francis
Black Dress Exhibition Recognizes Contemporary Black Fashion Designers
Artist and Educator Gerry Snyder Appointed School of Art Dean
The groundbreaking work of 10 contemporary New York–based black fashion designers, both established and up-and-coming, was celebrated in Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers, an unprecedented exhibition that recognized creativity and entrepreneurship in the field. Organized by Pratt Institute Fashion Professor Adrienne Jones, Black Dress included designs by international fashion superstars Tracy Reese, Stephen Burrows, Byron Lars, Omar Salam, and Pratt Institute alumnus Jeffrey Banks. The exhibition garnered extensive media coverage from outlets including Style.com, NY1, W magazine, and New York Daily News. It was on view at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery from February through April.
Gerry Snyder has joined Pratt Institute as dean of the School of Art. Snyder, who most recently served as chief academic officer and vice president for academic affairs at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, began his position at Pratt on July 28, 2014.
Main Building Reopens
Snyder received a B.F.A. in Painting from the University of Oregon and an M.A. in Video Art from New York University. His exhibition history includes both solo shows and group shows such as the 2002 Whitney Biennial and the 2004 Serbian Biennial. His work has been featured in museum collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the de Young Museum of San Francisco, as well as in numerous private collections.
Pratt’s beloved Main Building is back: reconstruction has been completed and the modernized building has reopened to faculty, staff, and students. Damage caused by last year’s electrical fire has been repaired and the building’s infrastructure has been significantly updated. Main Building now includes a vegetated green roof; energy-efficient lighting and upgraded electrical infrastructure; enhanced IT and improved heating systems; a new main staircase; and a refurbished elevator, among other updated features.
“We are pleased to announce Gerry Snyder in his new position leading the School of Art and are confident that his significant experience in the art and academic worlds will be enriching to our students and faculty,” said Pratt Institute Provost Peter Barna last spring. “Beyond his commitment to educating the next generation of artists, Snyder is a practicing artist who demonstrates a passion for creating a unique and interdisciplinary educational culture that will help our students extend the boundaries of their creativity.”
“I have always admired Pratt and its long history as a leader in the arts,” said Snyder. “I am thrilled to be joining this dynamic community of exceptional faculty and students."
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A selection of pieces that illustrate Pratt’s new brand identity
Pratt Rolls Out New Brand Strategy Pratt Institute’s new brand includes a powerful visual identity, strong messaging platform, and positioning statement that allow the Institute to more effectively communicate its role as a global leader in art and design education. It emphasizes Pratt’s location in a cultural hub and its history of innovation as key to establishing a living lab of craft and creativity, where students and faculty come together to focus talent and passion into meaningful expression. To watch a video on Pratt’s new brand, visit vimeo.com/prattinstitute.
Institute Launches Redesigned Website As part of Pratt’s new brand initiative, the Institute recently relaunched its website with a complete visual redesign and a host of new features, such as platforms to display student and faculty work, an Institute-wide events calendar, a dynamic news area, and a responsive design that adjusts to all mobile devices. The site redesign follows months of research and review by a committee of campus representatives as well as an 18-month process of market research and brand strategy development. The new website’s News page (www.pratt.edu/news) is the go-to source for Pratt news and provides a continuous stream of content, from videos and social media to articles showcasing student, faculty, and alumni achievements. Let us know what you think. Email email@example.com. The home page of Pratt's redesigned website
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Santiago Piedrafita Named Chair of Graduate Communications Design Department Santiago Piedrafita, a designer, scholar, and educator, has been named chair of the Graduate Communications Design Department. Piedrafita received an M.S. in Communications Design from Pratt in 1994. His pedagogical philosophy aims to prepare graduates for a world of accelerating technological change, growing participation from audiences and users in the design process, and a high demand for designers with interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. As a designer, Piedrafita has worked for renowned studios such as J. Abbott Miller’s Design/Writing/Research, before transitioning to join Pentagram, and Chermayeff & Geismar Inc. (now Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv), as well as in the design departments of prestigious cultural institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Jorge Oliver Selected as Chair of Film/Video Department The Film/Video department recently welcomed Jorge Oliver, an independent filmmaker, actor, and professor, as its new chair. Oliver will oversee the department as it opens its new headquarters at 550 Myrtle Avenue. When completed, the department’s home base will include greatly updated facilities including two sound stages, a sound-mixing facility, and a screening room with 100 seats. As a professor, Oliver has instructed his students in film production, film scholarship, photography, screenwriting, and acting for camera. His work as a filmmaker includes the 2013 feature-length documentary Free to Love (Libres Para Amar), which spotlights a grassroots initiative to prevent the addition of a discriminatory amendment to the Puerto Rican constitution.
Greg Drasler’s Multiplex (2013) | Image courtesy of Greg Drasler
Four Pratt Artists Awarded 2014 Guggenheim Fellowships A diverse selection of four artists affiliated with Pratt Institute were awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, including Susan Bee, visiting professor, Humanities and Media Studies; Pier Consagra, adjunct associate professor, Foundation Art; Greg Drasler, adjunct assistant professor, Fine Arts; and alumnus Hamid Rahmanian (M.F.A. Computer Animation ’97). Every year, 200 of the 4,000 artists who apply from across the country receive this prestigious award. The 12-month fellowship, which starts in the beginning of May, provides funding for the artists and enables them to develop, produce, and exhibit new projects.
AT PRATT, CREATIVE CONNECTIONS GO WELL BEYOND THE CLASSROOM. With more than 40,000 alumni worldwide, plus parents and friends across the country and around the globe, Pratt Instituteâ€™s creative community extends far beyond the campus gates. To take part in this vibrant group, join Pratt Connect. Register at connect.pratt.edu using your Facebook or LinkedIn login, or create a unique username and password.
Looking to share and read class news? To view or submit class notes and obituaries, visit connect.pratt.edu/classnotes.
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BEYOND THE GATES Pratt’s Presence in the Public Realm
L to R: Arnold L. Lehman, Karim Rashid, and Yoko Ono | Photos by Sam Stuart
The New York Times Architecture Critic Michael Kimmelman Offers Inspiration to 2014 Graduates The New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman offered wise words to graduating students at the Institute’s 2014 Commencement, encouraging them to follow their convictions so that they might “Stop doing well, and start doing good.” For the fifth time in Pratt’s history, the event was held at Radio City Music Hall, with 1,337 graduate and undergraduate students crossing the stage to become alumni. Kimmelman, who also received an honorary Doctor of Letters during Commencement, advocated that students creatively consider ways to improve the world around them. “The future
is not fixed. You will make it,” Kimmelman said. “This is your opportunity and today is your call to arms.” Prior to Kimmelman’s speech, three honorary degrees were awarded to Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman (Doctor of Humane Letters), artist Yoko Ono (Doctor of Fine Arts), and designer Karim Rashid (Doctor of Fine Arts). Graduation speakers also included Creative Writing Associate Professor Ellery Washington, who was named the Distinguished Teacher for 2014– 2015, and elected student speaker Michelle Betters (B.F.A. Writing ’14).
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L to R: Julia Wollner and model | Photo by Fernando Colon; Byron Lars, Angela Bassett; Pat Cleveland, Stephen Burrows | Photos courtesy of Joshua Wong Photography
Pratt Fashion Show 2014 Dazzles Crowd and Generates Widespread Media Coverage Inventive student fashion designs that showcased newly conceived fabrics, manipulated textiles, and other alternative methods of construction were front and center at Pratt’s 115th annual Fashion Show this May. Senior students presented their final collections to a sold-out crowd of industry leaders, critics, and luminaries, including celebrated designers Stephen Burrows and Byron Lars, who were both honored at the event. Burrows received the 2014 Pratt Fashion Award for Lifetime Achievement from legendary supermodel Pat Cleveland, and Lars received the 2014 Pratt Fashion Visionary Award from acclaimed actress and producer Angela Bassett. The show received coverage and accolades in media outlets including The Huffington Post, Vogue.com, Women’s Wear Daily, and New York magazine’s The Cut blog. The show can be viewed at youtube.com/prattinstitute, along with a video
covering graduating senior Julia Wollner’s (B.F.A. Fashion ’14) thesis collection. Wollner was recognized with the Liz Claiborne Award–Concept to Product, a $25,000 award funded by the Liz Claiborne & Art Ortenberg Foundation that will support her entrepreneurial activities postgraduation. Cotton Incorporated was the lead sponsor for both the Pratt Fashion Show and Cocktail Benefit. Funding was awarded in part through a competitive grant presented to Pratt Institute by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board and managed by Cotton Incorporated. Santander Universities was the platinum sponsor for the Pratt Fashion Show and Cocktail Benefit. Proceeds from the Fashion Show and the Cocktail Benefit support Pratt scholarship funds and the Institute’s Department of Fashion.
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Ellery Washington | Photo by Sam Stuart
L to R: Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte, Honoree Sheryl Adkins-Green, Host Deborah Norville, Trustee Emeritus Marc Rosen | Photo by Clint Spaulding for Patrick McMullan Company
Associate Professor Ellery Washington Receives Pratt Institute Distinguished Teacher Award 2014-2015
Pratt Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Marc Rosen Scholarship and Education Fund for Packaging by Design at Annual Gala
Ellery Washington, associate professor of Creative Writing, was honored with the 2014-2015 Distinguished Teacher Award, which he received at Commencement on May 16 at Radio City Music Hall.
Pratt commemorated 25 years of the Marc Rosen Scholarship and Education Fund for Packaging by Design at the annual Art of Packaging Award Gala in Manhattan. Since its inception, the Fund—which was created in the name of award-winning designer, Pratt alumnus, trustee emeritus, and faculty member Marc Rosen—has helped raise more than $3.5 million in scholarships for graduate packaging design students at Pratt. Rosen was recognized at the event with a special citation from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo that acknowledged his 25 years of support to emerging packaging designers. The gala was emceed by Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville. Sheryl Adkins-Green, chief marketing officer for Mary Kay Inc., accepted the Art of Packaging Award, which honors the art form of package design, on behalf of the top beauty brand.
The award recognizes exceptional dedication to Pratt’s mission and applauds the accomplishments made over the course of a career. Students nominate the Distinguished Teacher, and the award is conferred by the Academic Senate. Past recipients of the award include: Theoharis David, Architecture, 2013; Kathryn Filla, Art and Design, 2012; Debbie Rabina, Information and Library Science, 2011; Chi Fan (Eric) Wong, Architecture, 2010; Leonard Bacich, Art and Design, 2010; Michael Kelly, Art and Design, 2009; Floyd Hughes, Art and Design, 2008; Douglas Wirls, Art and Design, 2007; Glen Bencivengo, Library and Information Science, 2006; Brent Porter, Architecture, 2005; and Robert Zakarian, Art and Design, 2004.
The only scholarship in the world available to graduate students looking to pursue careers in cosmetics and packaging design, the Marc Rosen Scholarship has helped nearly 200 Pratt students, many of whom have become industry leaders. The winners of this year’s Marc Rosen Scholarship were Chenchen Hu (M.S. Package Design ’14), Tonya Oberlender (M.S. Package Design ’13), Jessica Vande Werken (M.S. Package Design ’13), and Ivy Chen (M.S. Package Design ’13).
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L to R: Timothy Weber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, and Neil Corbould celebrate winning Best Achievement in Visual Effects for Gravity at the Academy Awards. Photo by © TLeopold, Globe Photos, ZUMAPRESS.com, Alamy Live News
Alumnus David Shirk Awarded Oscar for Best Visual Effects in Gravity Alumnus David Shirk (B.F.A. Illustration/Film ’89) was recognized with an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in recognition of his work on the 2013 film Gravity. Shirk served as a senior animation adviser on the film, helping tackle the amazing feat of simulating zero gravity onscreen. Shirk has contributed to several recent films including Elysium, Transformers, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and worked for a variety of large corporations such as Microsoft and for George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, at the Skywalker Ranch. Jarl Midelfort (B.F.A. Digital Arts ’10) worked as a character rigger on the award-winning film.
Alumnus Mitchell J. Silver Named New York City Parks Commissioner New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed alumnus Mitchell J. Silver (B.Arch. ’87) to head the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation on March 20. As parks commissioner, Silver oversees 1,900 parks and 29,000 acres of parkland. He specializes in comprehensive planning, land use planning, and implementation strategies. Silver most recently served as the chief planning and development officer and planning director for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina, where he led a comprehensive plan to modernize the city. He has also held positions as a top official in the Office of Planning in Washington, D.C., and as former president of the American Planning Association.
Pratt Regional Networks Expand This past year Pratt Institute alumni, parents, and friends helped launch regional networks in Seattle; the Bay Area; Portland, Oregon; Dallas; and Chicago. Preexisting networks include those in Boston; Washington, D.C.; northwestern Connecticut; and Philadelphia, bringing the total to nine cities across the country. Regional networks are empowered to create events and programs that nurture lifelong relationships and build meaningful connections with the Institute. More information, including a list of regions and links to local discussion boards and event listings, can be found at connect. pratt.edu. To get involved with or help create a group in your area, contact Michael Sclafani, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cannes Film Festival Screens Short Film by Film/Video Student Sydney Brafman Argentine film director Gaspar Noé once said, “You can make a piece of art with a cat drinking milk.” Sydney Brafman (B.F.A. Film/Video ’15) did just that in her 2-D animation short, Spoiled Milk, a cat-turned-Godzilla story that was screened at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. Brafman originally created the short as a final for an After Effects course at Pratt. Spoiled Milk has been featured in several festivals, including Pratt’s own Wallabout Film Festival, the Short Film Competition at Passenger Bar, and Animal Planet’s Internet Cat Video Festival.
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Pratt Demonstrates Design Expertise and Thought Leadership at NYCxDESIGN Pratt Institute hosted several thought-provoking panels and inventive exhibitions during NYCxDESIGN, the city's official design celebration. First alumni and faculty were prominently on display at BKLYN Designs, a furniture show of work made in Brooklyn that helped kick off NYCxDESIGN. The Institute, one of the BKLYN Designs sponsors, presented an exhibition of work by recent alumni who have participated in corporate-sponsored projects as students, as well as the design discussions, “On the Horizon: What’s Emerging in Design and Tech Beyond 3-D Printing and Wearable Devices?” and “New Models for the Business of Design.” The former paired Wired editor Cliff Kuang with IDEO’s Colin Raney, while the latter featured New York magazine design editor Wendy Goodman with a panel of industry experts including Communications Design Professor David Frisco. The panels were coordinated through Pratt Presents, a curated series of high-profile programs and events. The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), North America’s premier platform for global design, closed out NYCxDESIGN and featured works from Pratt’s Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator and the Department of Industrial Design. Work by alumni, students, and faculty was showcased at ICFF and at off-site exhibitions throughout the city.
Pratt's exhibition at the Mark Jupiter Showroom during BKLYN Designs Photo by Alex Weber
Alumna Swoon Takes Art from the Street to the Museum Brooklyn-based artist and Pratt alumna Swoon (B.F.A. ’02) is being celebrated with an exhibition of site-specific work in the Brooklyn Museum’s rotunda gallery, which she has transformed into a fantastic landscape centering on a 60-foot sculptural tree surrounded by sculpted boats and rafts, figurative paintings and drawings, and cut-paper foliage. According to the museum, Swoon’s installation engages with climate change as a response both to the local catastrophes caused by Hurricane Sandy and to the destruction of Doggerland— a landmass that once connected Great Britain and Europe— by a tsunami 8,000 years ago. Visit pratt.edu to see a video interview with Swoon about the exhibition.
Whitney Biennial Features Work of Three Pratt-Affiliated Artists The 2014 Whitney Biennial included three Pratt-affiliated artists: Matthew Deleget (M.F.A. Painting/M.S. History of Art ’97), Rochelle Feinstein (B.F.A. ’75), and Louise Fishman, former associate Fine Arts professor. Developed to showcase a microcosm of contemporary American art that is current and culturally relevant, the Whitney Biennial was curated this year by Stuart Comer, chief curator of media and performance art at MoMA; Anthony Elms, associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; and Michelle Grabner, artist and professor in the Painting and Drawing Department at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago.
Swoon's Submerged Motherlands | Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum
A TREE STILL GROWS IN BROOKLYN, BUT MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES.
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PRATT PRESENTS A new series of curated public programs presented by Pratt Institute
BIG IDEAS. BOLD THINKERS. BRILLIANT DIALOGUE.
All programs are free and open to the public; reservations required. Please visit www.pratt.edu/public-programs for reservations and more information.
FALL 2014 Michael Kimmelman in Conversation with Annabelle Selldorf (B.Arch. ’85) Co-presented by Surface magazine and moderated by Surface Executive Editor Spencer Bailey Thursday, October 16, 6:30 PM Higgins Hall Auditorium, Pratt Institute
The Art of Dining: How Master Chefs and Designers Collaborate With Hospitality Designer Adam D. Tihany, Chef Daniel Boulud, Chef Lydia Shire, and Editor in Chief of ELLE DECOR Michael Boodro A President’s Lecture Series Event Thursday, October 23, 6:30 PM Memorial Hall Auditorium, Pratt Institute
An Evening with Fernando Botero
A talk by Pratt faculty members Eva Díaz and Karyn Zieve followed by a book signing and reception with the artist A President’s Lecture Series Event Tuesday, October 28, 6:30 PM Room 213, Pratt Institute Manhattan Campus
Planning for Parks: What’s Next? With Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP (B.Arch. ’87)
Co-presented by Pratt’s Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development as part of its Democracy and Public Space series Wednesday, November 12, 6 PM Memorial Hall Auditorium, Pratt Institute
Pratt Presents at Art Basel Miami Beach A public exhibition of Pratt digital artwork sponsored by LG Electronics and an exclusive talk co-presented by Surface magazine December 2014 Miami Beach
Language and Culture: A Conversation and Interactive Installation
Co-presented by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture With Pratt student Eduardo Palma, Pratt faculty member Ellery Washington, and artist Shantell Martin Monday, December 15, 6:30 PM The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard
P R AT TFOLIO
FINAL THOUGHTS Modernism Unfinished
By Deborah Gans, Professor of Undergraduate Architecture
Modern architecture once meant great design for good. How can we move beyond its mistakes and retool its concepts for the contemporary world? Good design for social benefit has recently burgeoned into a movement embraced by venerable institutions like the American Institute of Architects and blogs like Big Think, but it also has a robust history that offers both inspiration and warning. Consider that “housing project” was a Modernist term used to describe a project of great social aspiration—as exemplified in the now landmarked New York City Housing Authority’s Harlem River Houses (1936)—but that it has come to mean an identifiably impoverished architecture intended to suit the impoverished existence of people who lived there. Housing projects, like the infamous Marcy Houses of Jay-Z’s song “Murder Marcyville,” reinforce stigma in part because their “tower in the park” form no longer fulfills our idea of a good city, but also because our society as a whole had thought it allowable to underfund the design of housing for the poor. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s current call for a “total reset of public
housing” aims to lift its stigma through redesign. He needs this clarion because, confronted with the failure of many post–World War II housing projects to engineer social change, many architects and developers retreated into explorations of architectural form and finance beginning in the 1970s. Postmodernism may no longer be the current style, but its inattention to social issues continues in our joyful obsession with the algorithms of computer-aided design. The corrective to social inattention has arrived through new sets of problems so dire they cannot be ignored, and a new generation of designers who are eager to take them on: the energy crises, followed by rapid global urbanization and its housing crises, and climate change. These are the problems that catalyzed a counterculture to “go green” with solar technology in the wake of the 1973 gas embargo and embrace “resilient” design in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Initially, high-design architects would not be caught dead arguing for sustainability any more than they would go to a black-tie function in Birkenstocks, but the distinction between the humanitarian and the good finally seems to be fading. Shigeru Ban just won the Pritzker Prize, and he plays both sides, designing both disaster-relief housing and chic New York apartment buildings with the same aesthetic sense.
We increasingly understand that design can’t solve social problems but it can participate in that process by addressing the environmental futures that will affect us—all from the user’s point of view. Fueled by bottom-up movements like community-based planning and social media like crowd sourcing, our current idea of good design focuses on the needs and desires of the little-guy user who will actually inhabit the building, rather than the governmental agency or financier that commissions it. Postmodern cultural and anthropological studies have provided more nuanced understandings of personal and group differences and their impact on the ways we live. With these new social tools, we have reframed the Modernist ideal that everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves good design. This history of good design is also my personal history: from a Modernist childhood to a postmodern architectural education; from work on housing in the ’80s to refugee camps in the ’90s, New Orleans after Katrina, and New York post-Sandy. Designing for extreme situations has not meant eliminating immense inequities, but rather designing for the imminent “new normal” that will affect everyone—at the bottom and the top. Katrina and Sandy are our first tastes of climate change. The design of this emerging world had better be good.
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SAVE THE DATE: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2014
Where visionaries go to celebrate creativity. Legends 2014 A Pratt Institute Scholarship Benefit Honoring Icons of Art and Design For more information, visit www.pratt.edu/legends
The Fall 2014 issue of Prattfolio, The Magazine of Pratt Institute