Best of 2021: The GSD’s most popular stories, podcasts, photos, and public programs this year

Mannequin with googles and a backpack looks out the window of the Frances Loeb Library at a masked student entering Gund Hall.
“Dis-Armor 2” by Krzysztof Wodiczko (Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.) is displayed in the Frances Loeb Library as part of the 2021 exhibition “Interrogative Design: Selected Works of Krzysztof Wodiczko.”

As 2021 comes to a close, take a look back at the top stories, podcasts, photos, and public programs from the Harvard Graduate School of Design over the past year.

Most Read Stories

In Cotton Kingdom, Now, Sara Zewde retraces Frederick Law Olmsted’s route through the Southern states

Image of scanned Cottom Kingdom map with tracing and labels in red
Map of Cotton Kingdom tracing Frederick Law Olmsted’s path of travel and the 10 student sites.

For the course “Cotton Kingdom, Now,” Assistant Professor Sara Zewde presented a cross-temporal pedagogical approach derived from her own experience of retracing Olmsted’s route through the Southern states in 2019. Twenty students embarked on this experimental seminar, which drew upon Olmsted’s original text and other primary historical documents from Black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Solomon Northup alongside a range of contemporary authors including historians, journalists, and social psychiatrists, from Toni Morrison to Alexander Manevitz and Mindy Thompson Fullilove. Read more about the course and Zewde’s research.

Designing for Disability Justice: On the need to take a variety of human bodies into account

A marked-up photograph of a building lobby for the Taylor Business school, showing architect Ronald Mace (a white man wheelchair user) and two people standing—a man and a woman in front of elevators. The image has been marked with blue pen to indicate specifications for a glass partition, door, and callbox (“lighted and audible”).
Suggested retrofits for the Taylor School of Business drawn directly on photos of door thresholds, sidewalks, and a lobby (where Mace himself appears in the photo, ca. 1978). Ronald L. Mace Papers, MC 00260, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, N.C. Featured in the 2020 public program “Critical Access Studies” delivered by Aimi Hamraie.

Disability ought to be an exciting subject for architects: it’s about lived experience, problem solving, and designing a better built environment. While the topic engages with critical theory and aspirations for collective life, it’s often seen as a field that requires checking boxes and fulfilling requirements, or worse, a touchy subject strewn with outdated terms and outmoded habits of thought. The typical routines of design don’t always take the variety of human bodies into account. Read how four practitioners are changing minds and moving the field forward.

Loeb Fellowship Announces Incoming Class of 2022

grid image of the ten incoming members of the Loeb Fellowship program
Clockwise from top left: Andrea Bolnick, Jordan Weber, Will Hunter, Monica Rhodes, Michael Uwemedimo, Veyom Bahl, Karen Dawn Blondel, Mpho Matsipa, Stephanie Hankey, and Moddie Turay.

In June, the GSD’s Loeb Fellowship announced its Class of 2022, a cohort of ten innovators who work across activism, urbanism, public art, film and media, technology, real estate development, and other fields that engage with the built environment and social outcomes. In addition to marking the program’s 51st class of Fellows, the Loeb Fellowship’s 2021-2022 cycle inaugurated a collaborative fellowship between the Loeb Fellowship and the ArtLab at Harvard University. Read more about this year’s Loeb Fellows.

An Island in Flux: Envisioning a more resilient Nantucket

Brant Point and Nantucket Harbour.

Nantucket offers a vivid illustration of the principle of flux, the idea that everything is in a constant state of becoming. Warmer temperatures and rising oceans will alter the island, possibly inundating its beaches, its historic town center, and other low-lying areas across the island. Browse a photo essay capturing the site of the Landscape Architecture option studio “Away…Offshore…Adrift… Shifting Landscapes, Unstable Futures” led by Professor in Practice Chris Reed.

Groundscrapers: Exploring the logic behind long, low buildings

Image of aerial photography showing the architecture in its landscape context
Pedregulho Residential Complex, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, photographed by Leonardo Finotti.

In “Specific Ambiguity: Groundscrapers,” a studio taught by Design Critic Camilo Restrepo Ochoa, 12 students explored the possibilities of large, low buildings whose scale and complex programs necessitate deep thinking about how architecture can “operate as a mediator between social and environmental conditions.” Unlike a tall building, which seeks a relationship with an ineffable abstraction—the sky—a long, low building challenges designers “to redefine our relation to the ground,” the field of public and ecological relationships. Read more about the course and Camilo’s research.

Most Downloaded Podcast Episodes

Design Now Podcast: The Climate Crisis

In the inaugural episode of this Harvard GSD podcast we hear from people working in and around the school about the existential threat posed by climate change. Featuring: Seth Denizen, Martha Schwartz, Adriana David, David Moreno Mateos, Montserrat Bonvehi Rosich Listen on our website.

Nexus PodcastnlogoNexus Podcast: Dmitri Julius

Julius connects the dots between terrestrial, sustainable building practices and new technologies being developed for human habitation in outer space. Listen on the African American Design Nexus website.

Headshot of Maurice Cox with a blue filter.Future of the American City: Maurice Cox

Commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development Maurice Cox joins Charles Waldheim to discuss his career in public service and recent work in Chicago. Listen on the Future of the American City website.

Image of roundtable discussion participants for the Practice in an Unknown World Pandemic episodeTalking Practice: Practice in an Uncertain World

Listen in on an informal event recorded over Zoom in May 2020, after the GSD evacuated its campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The occasion gathered thirteen prominent architectural practitioners who assembled on an early Saturday morning to share candid thoughts on the complexities of practice at this unprecedented moment. Listen on our website.


Most Liked @HarvardGSD Instagram Photos

Most Watched Public Programs

H ARQUITECTES, “Where the Invisible Becomes Visible”

H ARQUITECTES is an architecture studio founded in 2000 by David Lorente, Josep Ricart, Xavier Ros and Roger Tudó. They combine their professional activity teaching in the ETSAV-UPC, ETSAB-UPC and Harvard GSD.

Kenzo Tange Lecture: Christ & Gantenbein and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, interviewed by Jeannette Kuo

Swiss architects Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein founded their firm Christ & Gantenbein in 1998. The office’s activity extends to a broad spectrum of projects—private and public commissions, ranging from small transformations, to housing, office buildings, bridges, and urban master plans. OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen was founded in 2002. It is renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture, in which realisations and theoretical projects stand side by side. Jeannette Kuo is Assistant Professor in Practice at Harvard GSD and founding partner of KARAMUK KUO.

Robin Winogrond, “In Search of Geographical Re-enchantment”

Robin Winogrond, landscape architect and urban designer, is co-founder of Studio Vulkan Landscape Architecture, in Zurich, Switzerland. She was partner from 2014-2020, a period in which numerous international competitions and prizes were won, most notably the recently completed Zurich Airport Park.

Senior Loeb Scholar Lecture: Walter Hood, “When Memory Is Not Enough”

Walter Hood was the the Spring 2021 Senior Loeb Scholar at the GSD. He is Creative Director and Founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, a cultural practice working across art, fabrication, design, landscape, research and urbanism. Hood also serves as the David K. Woo Chair and the Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley.

Kate Thomas, “Lesbian Arcadia: Desire and Design in the Fin-de-Siècle Garden”

Kate Thomas is the K. Laurence Stapleton Professor of Literatures in English at Bryn Mawr College. She publishes and teaches on Victorian literature and material culture, gender and sexuality studies, and food studies.