Dana McKinney (MArch/MUP ’17) is among the handful of Harvard students profiled by the Harvard Gazette as part of its annual pre-Commencement coverage, spotlighting “stellar graduates” (or, soon-to-be graduates) from across the University. In her feature, McKinney discusses how she became interested in architecture and urban planning, and how her time at the Harvard Graduate School of Design further encouraged her passion for social justice through design.
“I want to make beautiful spaces and buildings, but I don’t want … the pitfall of only working with elite clients, and I think a lot of times architects end up serving a very high-income population,” McKinney tells the Gazette.
While at Harvard, McKinney, who was featured in the GSD’s recent student-profile video series, excelled both inside and outside of the classroom. Her academic work focused on the effects of institutional change, culminating in a master’s thesis on design alternatives to prison. As president of the African-American Student Union, McKinney helped organize the School’s first “Black in Design” conference.
In March, McKinney moved to Los Angeles to work as an architectural designer for the firm of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry (GSD ’57, Ar.D. ’00). While she may be living on the opposite side of the country, her GSD experience remains with her, McKinney tells the Gazette.
“I feel like I’ve made an impact on the School and I think the School’s made an incredible impact on me, my worldviews … re-engaging me in things that I hadn’t really thought about in the past few years. Also, it’s given me much more of a voice.”
Photo: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer