About Gateway

Gateway was the community newsletter of Pratt Institute published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement through spring 2014. For current Pratt-related news, visit the News page on Pratt’s website.


Class Notes

Sam Kaji (B.I.D. ’13) and Alvaro Uribe (B.I.D. ’10) have each been awarded 2013 Red Dot Design Awards. Kaji is recipient of two Red Dot Asia Awards for his Advanced Syringe and Medii projects, while Uribe is recipient of the Red Dot Concept award for his Plum Stool 2 (left). Uribe continues to work in design out of his Brooklyn studio and as a Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute.

Charles Lutz (B.F.A. Painting, Art History ’04) has enjoyed critical acclaim for his site-specific installation of Babel at the 2013 New York Armory Show. The installation was commissioned and curated by Eric Shiner, Director of the Andy Warhol Museum. Lutz’s first major solo show, Ends and Means, was recently held at New York’s C24 Gallery, and his works have been featured in Modern Painters magazine. More of his work is viewable at charleslutz.com.

Erwin Roemer (A.O.S. Graphic Design ’12) and Arturo H. Medrano (A.O.S. Graphic Design ’12) are two of the 70 internationally featured artists currently working in collage to be featured in a new publication by Gestalten (Berlin), The Age of Collage: Contemporary Collage in Modern Art, released in August. Erwin (“Tres”) and Arturo met while classmates at Pratt, and continue to produce work out of their Brooklyn studio. View their work at tresroemer.com and convulsive.tumblr.com.

Lorna Ritz’s (B.F.A. Art Education ’69) painted works have recently been exhibited in the office of Senator Rosenberg in The State House, Boston. Her painting technique is focused on representing light and space, described by the artist as “two elements that transcend object.” She is the 2013 recipient of The Artist’s Resource Trust grant, and her recent works will be exhibited in an upcoming gallery show at The Aidron Duckworth Museum in New Hampshire (2014). She has taught painting, drawing and sculpture for over 30 years. Her works and statement are viewable at lornaritz.com.

Charles Belfoure's (B.Arch. ’83) is author of a new novel, following the story of a gentile architect who designs hiding places for Jews escaping German-occupied Paris during WWII. The Paris Architect will be published in October by Sourcebooks Landmark. Called an “up and coming Ken Follet” by Booklist, Belfoure is also co-author of The Baltimore Rowhouse and author of Monuments to Money: The Architecture of American Banks. He taught site design at Pratt from 1990 to 1995.

Blackwell Hird (B.I.D. ’07) has launched his first video game, published by Esc Studios for the iPad and Android tablets. The release was accompanied by an exhibition at the Nohra Haime Gallery, Blackwell Hird: Onwards featuring the artist’s concept artwork for the game throughout the design and creation process. Hird entered the practice of video game design after working in Brooklyn's prop industry.

Kyle Monroe Dunnington (M.Arch ’13), recent recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ Henry Adams Award, has begun a new position with Zaha Hadid Architects. His designs with Studio Nexus for Chicago’s Clybourn Metra Station have been featured in suckerPUNCH and alongside other projects in IN PROCESS, Pratt School of Architecture’s annual review. His sculptural and painted works have also been featured in La Rotunda and Inklings literary magazine, viewable at kylemonroedunnington.com.

Lindsay Blatt (B.A. Photography ’02) has launched Archerfish, a new video production company. The company recently collaborated with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to produce an intimate look into the studio practice of artist and fellow Pratt Alumna Barbara Nessim, in honor of her retrospective held at the Museum (more below). Blatt has also released her first film, a documentary short called Herd in Iceland that explores the nation’s horse herding traditions. Blatt continues to work as a staff photography editor with The New York Times. Visit her website at lindsayblatt.com.

Richard Simpson as a student at Pratt. Photo by Drew Babitts.Richard Simpson (B.A. Advertising Design ’58), Charles Avery (’50), and colleague Neal Prince have been honored for their design work with InterContinental Hotels by the New York School of Interior Design. From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, the team designed the interiors of more than 135 hotels. Simpson and Avery’s graphics projects for the designs were also featured by the School’s Alumni Gallery at 161 East 69th street. Today the international luxury hotel brand continues to grow with 170 hotels and resorts in over 60 countries.

Barbara Nessim (B.F.A. Graphic Arts & Illustration ’60) has enjoyed a first retrospective, Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Douglas Dodds, the Museum’s senior curator of digital art described Nessim in The New York Times as “ . . . clearly a major figure in American art and design, and illustration in particular.” The newly published monograph of her work draws from the artist’s personal archives to further chronicle her lifelong practice in illustration.

Kelsy Parkhouse’s (B.F.A. Fashion ’12) new clothing label Carleen has been stocked by Bird owner Jen Mankins, attributed “Curator of the Brooklyn Look” by The New York Times. Parkhouse, who received the Liz Claiborne Award - Concept to Product at the 2012 Pratt Fashion Show, has garnered coverage for Carleen in W Magazine and Vogue Daily, as well as endorsement from Natalie Joos during Paris Fashion Week. Currently she continues full-time production from her Brooklyn studio.

Carla Camacho (M.S. History of Art and Design ’02) has been named a partner with the Lehmann Maupin Gallery after seven years of serving as financial director. In an interview with Gallerist, she describes how “ . . . it’s been amazing to develop my career at the same time that Lehmann Maupin has had such tremendous growth.” Since Camacho’s joining Lehmann Maupin’s first location in Chelsea, the Gallery has opened new branches in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in Hong Kong.

Text: Ashley Kelleher


Construction On and Around Campus

This fall returning students and faculty surely noticed a few changes to Pratt's sylvan Brooklyn campus. One major development that took place over the summer: the Engineering Quadrangle was completely re-landscaped, allowing for easier movement between the buildings. The project, a collaborative effort between the Office of Facilities Management and recent architectural graduates of Pratt and CUNY, was made possible through the generosity of Pratt alumnus and Trustee Emeritus Bruce M. Newman (B.F.A. Interior Design ’53).

The Institute is putting the finishing touches on this major landscaping endeavor. The new design reinforces the cohesiveness of the campus, bringing to campus improved seating areas with wooden benches, enhanced walkways with “grasscrete” and brick pavers, additional lighting for increased safety, and improved irrigation for greater environmental sustainability. In addition, new bicycle racks and pavers will be installed adjacent to the west wall of the Chemistry Building. The project will be complete when new lightposts are put in place and new doors are installed for the East Building.

Main Building, in the wake of last February's fire, will also undergo a major renovation, including a green roof and a full restoration of the building's interior and façade. Pratt’s Office of Planning, Design, Construction, and Facilities Management has been working on the Main Building rebuilding efforts, and the Institute has retained Helpern Architects and Thorton Tomassetti.

In the coming weeks, Windsor Construction will begin necessary demolition, build a permanent roof and perform facade repairs necessary to prepare the building for reconstruction which will begin at the end of October. The reconstruction work will include new wall, ceiling and floor surfaces, new or enhanced electrical, IT, security and fire safety infrastructure, as well as new lighting.

The schedule, subject to unanticipated conditions, calls for the major portion of the work to be completed by early 2014 at which time we will begin a phased move back into the Main Building.

There are several other major construction projects scheduled in the coming year. Pratt is embarking on a new era for its Film/Video program. The Institute will soon transform the former PrattStore into a hub for the department—with two sound stages, a sound-mixing facility, and a screening room with 100 seats—that will provide outstanding opportunities for our current and future students.

Myrtle Avenue Plaza, a $6-million capital project to reconstruct the streets and sidewalks of Myrtle Avenue between Hall Street and Emerson Place, is scheduled to break ground this spring. The pedestrian plaza is the result of a multi-year community planning process led by the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (MARP), which is chaired by President Schutte. The New York Times reported on the revitalization efforts that have helped transform the neighborhood and quoted President Schutte discussing Myrtle Hall's design and how this represents Pratt's commitment to transparency with the larger neighborhood community.

The project will enhance the area adjacent to Myrtle Hall and Pratt’s new Film/Video facility at 550 Myrtle Avenue and will also provide space for community programming. Contractors will also start with work on water mains and catch basins before moving on to the plaza area itself. Estimated time to completion is 18 months. Check out the site plan and renderings here

Designed by a landscape team from the firm AECOM, the plaza will create approximately 25,000 square feet of new pedestrian space by reconfiguring two blocks of the four-block service road and the southeast corner of Myrtle Avenue at Hall Street. Enhancements include: improved crossings, new bus stops, dozens of new trees, large planters with ornamentals, game tables, a water fountain, a permanent art installation, moveable tables and chairs, and more.

Funding was provided by Councilmember Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the Federal Government, and NYC DOT through the Public Plaza Program. The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership will be the city’s maintenance partner and will be responsible for upkeep and programming.

Adjacent to the plaza site but unrelated, construction has already started at 490 Myrtle Avenue, the space that housed the Associated Supermarket. The coming 232-unit building will include 48 affordable apartments and a new Associated Supermarket and TD Bank in its commercial spaces.

Construction of the North Hall Green Roof and retrofit of the Cannoneer Court Parking Lot, adjacent to that residence hall, will commence this fall. Both projects fall under the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Green Infrastructure Grant Program, which provided $500,000 in funding. The program is part of an initiative designed to improve the water quality of New York Harbor by reducing combined sewer overflows, the mix of stormwater and wastewater that pollutes our waterways after storms. Both the green roof and the parking lot will capture rainfall, thus improving the quality of our city’s waterways.

The roof on North Hall, which houses the campus cafeteria as well as classrooms, will be planted with native species. The 100-parking space lot will be retrofitted with bioswales—landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water—trench drains, and plantings. A collaborative effort between the Institute’s Urban Environmental Systems Management degree program and the Office of Planning, Design, Construction, and Facilities Management, the supervising team will monitor stormwater capture, biodiversity, and analyze the overall effectiveness of this renovation as a potential model for parking lot design citywide.

Text: Bay Brown
Photo: Peter Tannenbaum


Maria Damon Named Humanities and Media Studies Chair

Maria Damon

Maria Damon, a renowned poet, scholar, and academician with 25 years of experience in higher education, has been named chair of the Humanities and Media Studies Department, part of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Damon comes to the department at a time when a number of exciting initiatives are underway. As chair, Damon will oversee the department’s B.F.A. degree program in Writing, new master’s degree programs in Media Studies (M.A., launching fall 2013) and Writing (M.F.A., launching fall 2014), and a variety of courses for non-majors.

Damon's background as an artist and published poet as well as a contributor to the digital poetics movement has well prepared her to lead a department that recognizes and fosters the relationship between visual and written texts and instills within its students critical thinking, reading, and writing skills that inspire intellectual and creative growth. 

Damon’s research covers a diverse range of scholarly concentrations including American poetry from post World War II to the present; poetry and prose by marginalized subcultures; and cultural studies in the areas of ethnicity, ethnography, and diaspora poetics. Damon’s appointment began July 1, and she replaces outgoing chair Ira Livingston, who will remain a faculty member in the department.

"Professor Damon's poetry and scholarship represents the inter- and transdisciplinary work that is the hallmark of the department and school," said Andrew W. Barnes, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "Her international reputation will continue to elevate the department's status as a unique voice in creative and critical thinking," he added.

Damon is the author of several scholarly books, including Post-literary ‘America’: From Bagel Shop Jazz to Micropoetries (University of Iowa Press, 2011); Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader, which she co-authored with Ira Livingston (Illinois University Press, 2009); and The Dark End of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry (University of Minnesota Press, 1993). Her poetic work includes Literature Nation, the first book-length hypertext poem on the Internet (Potes & Poets Press, 2003), which she coauthored with frequent collaborator mIEKAL aND in 1998. 

For 25 years, Damon provided her expertise to students at the University of Minnesota, where she was a professor of English with affiliations in the departments of American Studies; Gender, Women, and Sexuality; Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature; Theatre Art and Dance; and the Center for Jewish Studies.

Damon received a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and a B.A. degree from Hampshire College in Humanities and Arts. She currently resides in Brooklyn.

Text: Amy Aronoff
Photo: Peter Tannenbaum


Undergraduate Spends a Night at the Museum

On most nights this summer, Taylor Jones (B.F.A. Fashion ’14) slept in Willoughby Hall on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus—but not August 15.

Instead, Jones experienced her own Night at the Museum when she lived for 24 hours in a micro-unit in the Museum of the City of New York. The unit was part of the exhibition Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, which examines the city’s demographic changes, the growth in single households, and forward-thinking architecture for an increasingly congested city.

Taylor Jones (B.F.A. Fashion '14) and fellow Museum of the City of New York intern Emily Theakston stand in the micro-unit where they stayed for 24 hours this summer.

Jones participated in a several-day demonstration, in which different people stayed in the 250-square-foot apartment—with custom furniture—to test what it would be like to live there. Jones and another participant, both summer interns at the Museum, experienced the unit as roommates.

Although there were numerous museum interns, Jones and her partner were chosen because they were “creative and artistic” and were encouraged to work on personal projects—Jones drew fashion illustrations—when not otherwise occupied in the micro-unit. 

They not only slept in the apartment, they fielded questions from reporters and engaged museum visitors in conversations about the past and future of New York housing. Their role was two-fold: resident and host—and it started at the crack of dawn. 

The morning she stayed in the micro-unit, Jones woke up when a New York Times reporter even called her at 5 AM.

“He had called me earlier and we had spoken, but I hadn’t yet lived in the unit, so he called me at five to get a perspective on it—and then I went back to bed. As a Pratt student, I’m used to being awake at five in the morning,” says Jones.

After the Museum opened, Jones stayed in the apartment, speaking to more press and visitors and demonstrating the micro-unit’s transformable space and multi-functional furniture, like a coffee table that can be turned into seating for four people.

“The best part of [the experience] was just interacting with people because there was such a wide range of reactions,” says Jones. In particular, she recalls a conversation between a mother and her adult son about the heightened demand for housing in New York.

“The mom said ‘I had a palace to myself in west Greenwich thirty years ago.’ And the son lives in Harlem with three roommates in a really small space. So it was interesting to see the change in the dynamics there.’”

The exhibition, which was supposed to close on Labor Day Weekend, was extended to September 15 due to popular demand.

Text: Ruth Samuelson
Photos: Courtesy of Resource Furniture and Clei & Museum of the City of New York


Barnes & Noble Unveils New Pratt Collection


Now in its sixth year working with Pratt's design programs, the Barnes & Noble (B&N) Back to Campus collection is a unique opportunity for students to design products—journals, notebooks, mugs, and more—that are sold in B&N stores nationwide and online. The collection repeatedly sells out each year, and this current crop of products has been especially successful. This successful program has expanded to include more than a dozen items produced each year.

“It’s a great project for the students because they get to work with a real client,” says Graduate Communications Design Adjunct Professor Tom Dolle, the faculty advisor for this project. “A lot of the program is to get them to understand who the audience really is, who we are doing this for, and what would appeal to that audience. This is what good design is all about.”

Over the summer, the graduate communications design students work with Dolle directly, “we do a lot of back and forth critique,” he says. The students then receive feedback from two art directors from B&N who discuss how the designs could be more salable.

These designs are then presented to the B&N buyers who ultimately select the products for manufacture. According to Dolle, the buyers are “looking for things that have a human touch to them.” He adds, “B&N is very pleased with how this program has worked for them. Some products are evergreen where they reprint them and sell them over and over.”

Products selected to be produced and sold in the 2013 Back to Campus collection were designed by graduate students and recent alumni Yu Ping Chuang, Marina Brant, Mona Bagla, Jen Sheppard, Sarah Alfarhan, Erin Wilson, and Katherine Robinson.

Text: Kate Ünver & Luke Degnan