Vishaan Chakrabarti

Indian American architect and Columbia University professor Vishaan Chakrabarti has been named the new dean of the College of Environmental Design at U.C. Berkeley. (berkeley.edu photo)

Columbia University Prof. Vishaan Chakrabarti has been named the new dean of the College of Environmental Design, U.C. Berkeley, Chancellor Carol Christ and executive vice chancellor and provost Paul Alivisatos have announced.

In a joint statement, Christ and Alivisatos said they were “very pleased” that Chakrabarti, a celebrated architect and associate professor of professional practice at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, has accepted the offer to become the next dean of the environmental design college.

He will begin his term on July 1, 2020.

A graduate of CED’s architecture program and member of the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, Chakrabarti is well known to many in the Berkeley design community.

The Indian American has dedicated his long career as an architect and urban planner to social impact through the improvement of cities’ public spaces, most recently as the founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, the studio he established in 2015 and will continue to lead as dean, the university said in a news release.

Chakrabarti has directed projects as varied as a multi-billion dollar public-private partnership to redevelop New York’s Pennsylvania Station, the adaptive reuse of the landmark Domino Sugar Refinery and park in Brooklyn, and the design of a mixed-use village and bazaar in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, it said.

Outside of private practice, he served as director of the Manhattan office of New York’s Department of City Planning from 2002 to 2005, overseeing planning and development for the borough during the critical period of rebuilding that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

During his time there, he also helped lay the groundwork for the city’s acclaimed High Line park and a major expansion of Columbia University, his bio notes.

In his academic life, Chakrabarti has served as a professor at Columbia GSAPP since 2009. There, he spearheaded a major revision of the school’s Master of Science in Real Estate Development program, reshaping its curriculum and imbuing it with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration between the architecture, urban design, planning and preservation programs, the university said.

In 2011, he also established and then led Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate, a research hub that investigates the challenges and opportunities that arise from rapid urbanization. While at Columbia, he published his much-lauded book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America, it said.

Aside from his master’s of architecture degree from CED, Chakrabarti holds a master’s in city planning from MIT and dual bachelor’s degrees in art history and engineering from Cornell. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Throughout his distinguished career, Chakrabarti has remained a zealous advocate for the College of Environmental Design, and impressed the CED dean search committee with his enduring support for the college coupled with his credentials as a practitioner and scholar, his ambitious vision for CED, and his own personal commitment to the college’s twin pillars of social impact and design excellence, the university said.

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