by Noam Dvir
Six former chairs of architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design gathered on Tuesday to honor Preston Scott Cohen, the outgoing chair of the department. Cohen, who is completing a tenure of five years, gave the celebratory Walter Gropius lecture. He talked about “Successive Architecture”—part of a continuous research project about the fundamentals of architecture and how technology transforms it, connecting specific moments of architectural ingenuity in a cross-historical reading.
Cohen is the Gerald M. McCue Professor of Architecture and principal designer at Preston Scott Cohen, Inc. of Cambridge. He was the first chair appointed by Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. “I know Scott almost since his student days,” said Mostafavi prior to the lecture. “He was always very enthusiastic and was interested in teaching from the very beginning.”
Cohen's tenure was marked by continuous accomplishments for the department (named the best graduate program in architecture in the U.S. by DesignIntelligence) and a series of achievements in his own practice (including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building, Datong City Library and an Arcade Canopy in New York City, and a series of conversations with leading architects that will be soon be published as a book). “I'm hoping that Scott will continue to lead us with his foresight and arguments, and he can certainly argue,”, added Mostafavi.
The Walter Gropius lecture is traditionally given by outgoing chairs of architecture. It was established to commemorate Gropius, who was the chair of architecture in the late 1930s and advocated for modern architecture both in the school and in Harvard.
Noam Dvir (MAUD '14) is a journalist and critic covering the architecture world for the past decade. He contributes regularly to Haaretz newspaper in Tel Aviv and various design magazines including Frame and PIN-UP.