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Three Architects Join Design School’s Faculty

By Krystal K. Phu
By Archie J.W. Hall, Crimson Staff Writer

The Graduate School of Design will soon welcome renowned architects Jeanne Gang, Mark Lee, and Sharon Johnston into its halls as new professors of practice.

Gang, who won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2011, heads the Chicago and New York-based architecture and urban design firm Studio Gang. One of her recent projects was the Aqua Tower, an 82-story Chicago skyscraper with an exterior modeled after the shape of water. The building earned the Emporis Skyscraper Award in 2009. Gang’s work focuses on the importance of materials, the environment, and innovative ways of managing waste, according to Design School Dean Mohsen Mostafavi.

Johnston and Lee are founding partners of the Los Angeles-based architecture firm Johnston Marklee, and co-directors of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America.

Johnston said she and Lee “focus on the arts and education” in their work. The Menil Drawing Institute, a 30,000 square foot modern art museum in Houston designed by the pair, will open this year.

In an interview, Mostafavi described Gang, Lee, and Johnston as “at the forefront of the next generation of contemporary architects.”

“They’re not just practitioners who come and work with our students as professionals, but really creative innovative thinkers,” Mostafavi said.

The three architects—who are all alumni of the Graduate School of Design—will be teaching studio classes closely connected to their professional work starting this semester.

Lee said he sees teaching as an important complement to his private sector endeavors.

“Teaching is something that works seamlessly with practice. Teaching is not just the transference of knowledge, but very much about the production of knowledge,” Lee said.

Johnston and Lee’s studio class, called “Museum Island,” will examine “‘island’ and archipelago’ organizations in architecture and their generative potential in urban design,” according to the course description. The course will ask students to design an art storage building on the Menil Foundation campus in Houston, where Johnston and Lee’s museum project will open later this year. One of the course’s goals, according to Lee, will be “studying how institutions could be integrated with a neighborhood.”

Gang’s course, “After the Storm: Restructuring an Island Ecosystem,” will focus on the humanitarian response and aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the Caribbean, particularly the U.S. Virgin Islands. The class will be co-taught by Claire Cahan, an architect at Studio Gang.

Johnston said she looks forward to contributing to the graduate school she attended now as a faculty member.

“It has been a really rewarding reconnection with the GSD,” Johnston said.

Lee added the School has evolved since his time at Harvard.

“The campus has changed a lot, Harvard Square has changed a lot, the School has grown a lot,” Lee said. “The School is at a new threshold of a new future with global connection, we’re very excited to be part of this.”

— Staff writer Archie J.W. Hall can be reached at

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