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Introducing the Loeb Fellowship’s Incoming Class of 2017–18

The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Loeb Fellowship is pleased to announce the nine new Fellows that compose the incoming class of 2017–18. In the tradition of the 46-year-old program, these Fellows will spend the academic year in residence at the GSD. Over the course of the year, the Loeb Fellows take classes at the GSD and throughout Harvard’s network of professional and academic schools. They engage in vital discourse with faculty and students, participate in studio reviews and other activities at the school, and enrich their leadership abilities.

As in past years, this group of Fellows brings to the GSD a wealth of inspiring, impactful, and global experiences. They are concerned with housing and food production, sustainable urban and rural communities, and art that builds bridges. They are experienced in responding to catastrophic events and chronic community dysfunction; they grow and build and publish and convene, and they are eager to broaden their impact.

The Loeb Fellowship is curated by John Peterson, founder of Public Architecture, who himself was a Loeb Fellow in 2005 and 2006. He spoke about connections between Public Architecture and the Loeb Fellowship with Architect last spring. Learn more about the Loeb Fellowship on the program’s LOEBlog.

The nine 2017–18 Loeb Fellows are:

*Trained as an architect and engineer, Samuel Bonnet is head of construction for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, where he has established a practice with tools and standards used worldwide. He has overseen significant projects in more than 20 countries around the world, responding to increasingly urban-based, episodic, and protracted crises. Bonnet anticipates using the resources of the Loeb Fellowship to explore new construction and economic models that can contribute to the redefinition of the humanitarian system in ways that will foster inclusion, generate revenue, and empower local economies.

*Andrew Freear, originally from Yorkshire, England, lives in a small rural community in West Alabama, where for nearly two decades he has directed Auburn University’s Rural Studio, which defies traditions about the education and role of architects. His architecture students have designed and built over 70 community buildings and landscape projects for under-resourced local towns and nonprofit organizations. Since 2006 they have explored 22 housing prototypes for the 20K Home initiative: an alternative to the trailer home as the rural dwelling. Freear welcomes the Loeb Fellowship to test ideas that will advance his commitment to the resilience of rural communities.

*Johanna Gilligan is reimagining the role young adults can play in transforming our food system, and as founder and director of Grow Dat Youth Farm, she has created the largest urban farm in New Orleans. Each year, 60 young adults practice perseverance, accountability, and leadership by learning about food production and land stewardship and growing 10 tons of food. In the coming year Gilligan will have the opportunity to explore how to broaden the approach and impact of the foundation Grow Dat has established to improve the engagement and education of young adults.

*Matthew Mazzotta creates public art at the intersection with activism, architecture, design, ethnography, and community building. His community-specific projects integrate civic participation and social engagement into the built environment to reveal the intimate, radical, and meaningful exchanges in the spaces people move through and live in. During his Loeb year he will develop a Social Practice Research Lab that can analyze precedents and strategies in creating community-specific public works, as well as ethical issues related to gentrification, equity, changes in social dynamics, cultural erasure, and loss of authenticity.

*As regional planning coordinator for the Quisqueya Binational Economic Council and urban planning unit manager of the Shearly Initiative in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Shaney Peña-Gómez has advanced the economic and urban development of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Her work has resulted in the creation of urban parks and a binational border park and increased public awareness of the value of land stewardship. Peña-Gómez’s Loeb agenda is aimed at advancing knowledge about binational border regions and finance mechanisms for green infrastructure, and mediating between urban density and open space.

*In her Mexico City firm El Cielo Architects and as head of the Urban Development Department at Infonavit (the Mexican National Workers’ Housing Fund Institute), Surella Segu has sought to develop comprehensive and sustainable solutions to the housing deficits associated with urban expansion in the Global South. In her work, research and field experiences form a feedback circle, and her focus has expanded beyond social housing to the regeneration of public spaces and community. Segu’s Loeb plan will begin with research on mass-produced social housing, the basis for creating new architecture and urban design systems that integrate end users in the planning process.

*Possessing a strong belief in the architect’s social contract, James Shen situated his Beijing-based People’s Architecture Office in Dashilar, a lively historic district characterized by slum conditions. There he developed–among other innovations–the Courtyard House Plugin, a prefabricated building system to quickly and efficiently upgrade dilapidated courtyards to modern living and energy standards without any demolition. During Shen’s Loeb year, access to the GSD and Harvard’s social entrepreneurship community will enable him to examine viable business models and examples of design consultancies that successfully balance client interests, social mission, and sustainability.

*As founder and coeditor of Cityscapes magazine, based in Cape Town, South Africa, Tau Tavengwa bridges urban academic research with design practice and policymaking to establish a better understanding of urban practice within and between cities of the Global South. His work also encompasses exhibition design and curatorial projects and has promoted understanding of the complex dynamics of urbanization in Africa. During his Loeb year he aims to harness a network of urbanists across Africa, Latin America, and South Asia as a catalyst for progressive change in the Global South, and to explore the role Cityscapes magazine can play in achieving this goal.

*Eric Williams is the founder of the Silver Room on the South Side of Chicago, for 20 years an influential retail and community art hub in the city. The Silver Room Sound System Block Party attracted more than 15,000 attendees in 2016, and the 3-day CONNECT Hyde Park Arts Festival, a collaboration with the University of Chicago, activated empty storefronts with pop-up art exhibits organized by some of Chicago's leading curators. During his Loeb Fellowship Williams will focus on strategies for replicating the Silver Room model nationally and methods for measuring the social and economic impact of arts entrepreneurship.