Talking Practice: Preston Scott Cohen

In this episode, Talking Practice host Grace La interviews Preston Scott Cohen, founder and principal of Preston Scott Cohen Inc, and Gerald M. McCue Professor in Architecture at the GSD.

A teacher at the GSD since 1989, Cohen reflects upon his distinguished career as an educator and describes the ever-evolving dynamics between teaching and practice. Informed by his deep knowledge of the discipline, Cohen shares his early memories of architecture, and his belief in the catalytic role architecture must play in the transformation of our urban context. Discussing the mechanics of contemporary practice, Cohen reveals how his practice approaches the intensive process of project development with a progressive attitude, and how a permutational approach can sidestep the pitfalls of conventional value engineering. Looking back on his 2013 Walter Gropius Lecture and his 2018 GSD studio titled “The Future Provincetown,” Cohen furthers his analysis of the challenges confronting architecture today. Cohen ends by asserting his hope for a more symbiotic interaction between architecture and urban planning.

Preston Scott Cohen is the founder and principal of Preston Scott Cohen Inc, and Gerald M. McCue Professor in Architecture at the GSD, where he served as Chair of the Department of Architecture from 2008 – 2013. Cohen’s work encompasses diverse scales and types of buildings, including houses, educational facilities, cultural institutions, and urban design. His work has been the subject of a wide range of publications and exhibitions and is held in various collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Cohen is the author of Contested Symmetries and numerous theoretical essays on architecture. In 2018, Cohen taught a studio at the GSD titled “The Future Provincetown,” which focuses on redesigning Provincetown in the face of rising sea levels.

About the Show

Developed by Harvard Graduate School of Design, Talking Practice is the first podcast series to feature in-depth interviews with leading designers on the ways in which architects, landscape architects, designers, and planners articulate design imagination through practice.  Hosted by Grace La, Professor of Architecture and Chair of Practice Platform, these dynamic conversations provide a rare glimpse into the work, experiences, and attitudes of design practitioners from around the world. Comprehensive, thought-provoking, and timely, Talking Practice tells the story of what designers do, why, and how they do it—exploring the key issues at stake in practice today.

About the Host

Grace LaGrace La is Professor of Architecture, Chair of the Practice Platform, and former Director of the Master of Architecture Programs at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.  She is also Principal of LA DALLMAN Architects, internationally recognized for the integration of architecture, engineering and landscape. Cofounded with James Dallman, LA DALLMAN is engaged in catalytic projects of diverse scale and type.  The practice is noted for works that expand the architect’s agency in the civic recalibration of infrastructure, public space and challenging sites.

Show Credits

Talking Practice is produced by Ronee Saroff and edited by Maggie Janik. Our Research Assistant is John Wang.  The show is recorded at Harvard University’s Media Production Center by Multimedia Engineer Jeffrey Valade.


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