News

John Peterson, founder of Public Architecture, appointed curator of the Loeb Fellowship

Harvard University Graduate School of Design is pleased to announce the appointment of John Peterson as Curator of the Loeb Fellowship. Peterson, an architect, educator, and activist, will assume his new post in January 2016. He succeeds James Stockard, an alumnus of both the Loeb Fellowship and the GSD, who served as Curator of the program for 17 years.

Peterson founded Public Architecture in 2002 as a nonprofit organization devoted to bringing design services to underserved communities. He led his own architectural practice, Peterson Architects, from 1993 to 2010, and has taught at the California College of the Arts and the University of Texas at Austin. He holds degrees in fine arts and architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and was a Loeb Fellow in 2006. A recipient of numerous design and social innovation awards, Peterson has played an important part in defining the concept of “public interest design,” which has evolved in recent years into a significant field of practice. 

The Loeb Fellowship, now in its fifth decade, is a unique program that offers the resources of Harvard University to a diverse group of professionals who have promising careers in shaping the built and natural environment. Each year, 10 accomplished individuals are selected from an open application process and invited to spend one academic year in residence, to take classes, study, learn, reflect, network, and contribute to the intellectual life of Harvard GSD. Founded with a gift from John and Frances Loeb, the program has received over 450 fellows from 36 US states and 18 countries.

“I am excited that John will join the GSD community as Loeb Curator,” said Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. “His experience addressing issues of design and equality are in line with the GSD's commitment to imagining alternative and sustainable futures, informed by an understanding of ethical and political concerns.”

“John has built an impressive organization and impactful career focusing on societal engagement through the agency of design,” said Charles Waldheim, Chair of Harvard GSD’s Department of Landscape Architecture and head of the Loeb Curator search committee. “His capacity to articulate and enable design to play a role in the service of broader publics, often in very challenging conditions, promises to renew the Loeb program’s longstanding commitments in this area.”

Peterson will step down from his position as President of Public Architecture to become a member of its board of directors. He will begin working with Harvard GSD and the Loeb program this fall, while transitioning into his new role. “The Loeb Fellowship has done a brilliant job over the years nurturing talented individuals and fostering a larger conversation about how the built environment can be developed to influence social outcomes,” said Peterson. “I look forward to the opportunity to deepen this conversation and support an even greater impact on rural and urban environments.”

Peterson inherits James Stockard’s legacy of growing the Loeb Fellowship into a program with a global reach, accepting fellows from other countries. The Loeb Fellowship’s process of selecting new fellows will remain based on open applications. Applications for the 2016–2017 fellowship cycle will be available in August, with a submission deadline of January 5, 2016.