Grace La Appointed Chair of Department of Architecture

Grace La

Photo credit: Maggie Janik.

The Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) announces Grace La (MArch I ’95) as Chair of the Department of Architecture, effective July 1, 2023. La is Professor of Architecture at the GSD and principal of LA DALLMAN, a practice internationally recognized for work that integrates architecture, engineering, and site. La is the second woman to be named Chair of the Department of Architecture, and in 2013 became the first Korean American to be tenured at the GSD.

La succeeds Mark Lee (MArch I ’95), Professor in Practice of Architecture and principal and founding partner of Johnston Marklee, who was appointed Chair in 2018.

“I am very excited about Grace’s appointment,” says Sarah M. Whiting, Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture. “Her commitment to the core curriculum and focus on practice as a fundamental pillar of architectural education are at once timely and timeless for the School’s pedagogy. And as we welcome Grace into her new role, I am also deeply grateful to Mark Lee for his steady leadership of the department these past five years.”

“I am honored by the GSD’s trust and look forward to collaboration on the next chapter of this esteemed department,” La says. “As a highly negotiated art form, architecture remains at the vital intersection of culture and space. The discipline is also experiencing transformations in pedagogy, with opportunities to advance environmental expertise, social engagement, and artistry. I am thrilled to work on this shared project and on the continued mission to harness the immense intellect, imagination, and energy of the GSD’s creative community.”

LA DALLMAN, co-founded by La and James Dallman (MArch I ’92) in 1999, is engaged in catalytic projects of diverse scale and type. Noted for works that expand the architect’s agency in the civic recalibration of infrastructure and public space, LA DALLMAN has received over 50 professional honors and delivered more than 60 lectures and presentations of the firm’s work, including at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the National Building Museum in Washington DC, and the New Museum in New York City. Celebrating 25 years of practice, LA DALLMAN is publishing the forthcoming monograph The Middle Front.

Engaging in critical dialogue with context, LA DALLMAN’s built work ranges from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Zilber Hillel Student Center and Kilbourn Tower to site-specific residences like the Levy Ravine House, Levatich Gradient House, and the Hansen Pavilion House, as well as permanent exhibits at Discovery World, a science and technology museum in Milwaukee. With expertise in adaptive reuse and renovations of mid-century modern buildings, LA DALLMAN has engaged with works by Ulrich Franzen, Harry Weese, Dan Kiley, The Architects Collaborative, and Walter Gropius. Urban transformations and infrastructure include the Marsupial Bridge, a pedestrian bridge slung beneath a 1925 viaduct; the post-industrial master plan for Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley; and other current infrastructure projects, including the Assabet River Pedestrian Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. Presently under construction in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is LA DALLMAN’s conversion of the Door County Granary into a museum and civic center, a project honored with a Progressive Architecture Award and celebrated as the cover image of Architect Magazine in March 2021.

LA DALLMAN’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including Architect, a+t, Architectural Record, Azure, Praxis, and Topos, as well as in books published by Actar, Princeton Architectural Press, Verlagshaus Braun, and Routledge. Their work has been widely presented in over 20 exhibitions, including at the Heinz Architectural Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Danish Architecture Center.

Committed to curricular development in architectural education, La served as the inaugural Chair of the Practice Platform (2014-2022) and Director of the GSD’s Master of Architecture degree programs (2014-17). Engaging the contemporary debate on questions of design pedagogy, La co-chaired the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s 2019 national conference, Black Box: Articulating Architecture’s Core in the Post-Digital Era, co-curating the accompanying exhibition, Drawing for the Design Imaginary, at Carnegie Mellon University. She also co-curated Drawing Attention: the Digital Culture of Contemporary Architectural Drawings, a global collection of 75 contemporary drawings, at the Roca London Gallery. La’s teaching at the GSD has included core design studios in housing and building integration, as well as option studios on bridges and auditoria co-taught with James Dallman. Aiming to connect design with conditions of ecology and material culture, La recently co-taught and co-curated with Erika Naginski a studio, seminar, and exhibition titled Eco Folly, in connection with the GSD’s Center for Green Buildings and Cities. La is also the founder and host of Talking Practice, a GSD podcast exploring how leading practitioners articulate design imagination through practice.

La joined the faculty at the GSD as Professor of Architecture in 2013, and previously served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Syracuse University. In 2022, La and Dallman were appointed Faculty Directors in Harvard’s Graduate Commons Program. A graduate of Harvard College, AB magna cum laude, as well as a John Harvard Scholar, La earned her professional MArch degree from the GSD with thesis distinction, winning the Clifford Wong Housing Prize.