They are architects and artists, activists and curators, policy-makers and transit advocates at the highest levels of their fields—and they are about to dedicate themselves to a year of research and engagement at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) as they consider how their work might advance equitable social futures.
Each year, Harvard GSD’s Loeb Fellowship program welcomes a cohort of exceptional mid-career practitioners, each of whom is involved in shaping the built environment, for a year of research, dialogue, and innovation. Loeb Fellows are selected through a highly competitive global application process; the nine 2020 fellows were selected from among over 100 candidates.
The incoming Loeb Fellows are:
Pedro Gadanho (Director, Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology; Lisbon, Portugal)
Elizabeth Kay Miller (Executive Director, Community Design Collaborative; Philadelphia, PA)
Deborah Helaine Morris (Executive Director of Resiliency Policy, Planning, and Acquisitions, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development; New York, NY)
Eleni Myrivili (Deputy Mayor for Urban Nature, Resilience & Climate Change Adaptation, City of Athens; Athens, Greece)
De Nichols (Social Impact Design Principal, Civic Creatives; St. Louis, MO)
Wolfgang Rieder (Entrepreneur and Circular Economy Activist, Rieder Group; Salzburg, Austria)
Andrew Salzberg (Head of Transportation Policy and Research, Uber; San Francisco, CA)
Paloma Strelitz (Co-Founder and Partner, Assemble; London, UK)
Michelle Joan Wilkinson (Museum Curator and Acting Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture; Washington, D.C.)
Drawing on diverse backgrounds and passions, each Loeb Fellowship cohort arrives at Harvard GSD with a common purpose: to strengthen their abilities to advance positive social outcomes and equity. Among other activities during the course of their year-long residencies, Loeb Fellows immerse themselves in the academic environment, auditing courses across vast offerings at Harvard and MIT, challenging their ideas and processes, and expanding their professional networks. Fellows also engage with Harvard GSD students and faculty, participate as speakers and panelists at public events, and convene workshops and other activities that encourage knowledge sharing and creation. Throughout, fellows consider how they might broaden or refocus their careers and the impact of their work, and encourage deeper social engagement with it.
“The Fellowship has an important role in the design world,” observes Loeb Fellowship program curator John Peterson. “In spite of the design profession’s often indifference to its social consequence, for almost 50 years the Fellowship has steadfastly championed those who are shaping the built environment as significant players for positive social outcomes.”
After their year of Harvard GSD residence, Loeb Fellowship alumni join a powerful worldwide network of over 450 lifelong Loeb fellows. Alumni include Cathleen McGuigan, Theaster Gates, Toni L. Griffin, Alejandro Echeverri, Anna Heringer, Inga Saffron, Damon Rich, and Phil Freelon.
The Loeb Fellowship traces its roots to 1968, when John L. Loeb was directing a Harvard GSD campaign themed around “Crisis.” Loeb saw the American city in disarray and believed Harvard could help. He imagined bringing highly promising innovators of the built and natural environment to Harvard GSD for a year, challenging them to do more and do better, convinced they would return to their work with new ideas and energy.
John Loeb and his wife Frances endowed the Loeb Fellowship as part of their gift to the “Crisis” campaign. They worked closely with William A. Doebele, the Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design (now Emeritus), the program’s founding curator, who guided the program through its first 27 years and shaped an experience that has had a powerful impact on generations of urban, rural, and environmental practitioners.
Today, the Loeb Fellowship is led by program curator John Peterson, architect, activist, and founder of Public Architecture, a national nonprofit organization, and himself a program alumnus.