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.





The School of Architecture has named a new alliance of programs within its school designed to allow more cross-disciplinary teaching of environmental and urban sustainability among the school’s non-design programs.

The Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development (PSPD) ties together the programs in the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (GCPE):  City and Regional Planning, Environmental Systems Management, and Historic Preservation, with the graduate program in Facilities Management and the undergraduate program in Construction Management.

Through PSPD, students can take electives to cover all aspects of a single topic (such as urban agriculture), or take fundamental courses in all of the programs to gain a cross-disciplinary perspective on their area of study.  

The creation of PSPD allows for cross-pollination across disciplines, with sustainable urbanism as the common denominator, and the benefits are many, says Facilities Management and Construction Management Chair Harriet Markis.  

“Facilities Management is the business arm of PSPD, and this innovative, alliance allows the facilities management student a unique opportunity for enriched study in areas of real estate development, construction management, sustainability, and preservation through their choice of electives among the member departments,” says Markis.

In addition PSPD allows faculty and students from all four programs to collaborate on studio projects in the community.  The programs share a speaker series. Multiple degrees can be efficiently sequenced. Joint research projects include planning for the environmental sustainability of the South Side in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and studying the economic sustainability of Long Island.

In addition, faculty and students from all four of PSPD’s graduate programs are working with the Pratt Center for Community Development on sustainable neighborhood planning throughout the region.

Finally, the creation of PSPD has allowed for the expansion of the partnership between the City and Regional Planning Program and Brooklyn Law School so PSPD graduate students can take law classes, and law students can enroll in PSPD courses.

John Shapiro, GCPE’s chair and PSPD’s coordinator says, “PSPD was formed in recognition that the biggest challenge over the next fifty years has to do with sustainability as defined by the ‘triple bottom line’ of environment, equity, and economy. Each program has a key element of that, but together we can truly innovate and better educate a new generation of practitioners.”



Pratt Sculpture Park Curator David Weinrib has installed three sculptures by upstate New York sculptor Leon Smith.

Red Cabinet was made in 2006 of cedar siding. “In New England,” says Smith, “a lot of houses are done of cedar siding, so I decided to do a sculpture out of this common material.”

Triangle was made in 2004 of thin fiberglass rods sitting on two large steel spheres. “The  'drawn' rod triangle becomes a window to the landscape,” says Smith, “and offers a delicate contrast to its solid base.”

Both works can be found in the area of the Pratt Library.

Guardian was made of blue-painted steel in 2003. It stands near Steuben Hall. “It combines a ball and a rectangle to make a connection between these two basic forms,” says Smith. 

In general “The opposing qualities of form are what engage me most,” says Smith. “I'm partial to the double take, the paradox, but only if the work's formal qualities can sustain interest and delight over a period of time.”

Smith, a native of Queensland, Australia, has created his own outdoor sculpture park on 200 acres adjacent to his home and studio in Ancramdale, New York in the Upper Hudson Valley. Educated at the University of Sydney, Sydney Art School, and Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design, London, Smith has been a resident of the United States since 1964. His work is known in the upstate New York area and is held in private and public collections across the United States, and in Australia, Israel, Belgium, and Mexico City.

 “I want to bring Leon Smith’s work to a broader, urban audience,” Weinrib explained, “so more people can become acquainted with Smith’s strong pieces of modern sculpture, which in my judgment are exemplary.”

Pratt Sculpture Park is regarded as one of the top 10 campus art collections according to Public Art Review (2006).

(L–R) Leon Smith, Red Cabinet, 2006, cedar siding, 4 x 7½ feet; Leon Smith, Triangle, 2004, fiberglass and steel, 21 x 22 x 3 feet

(L–R) Leon Smith, Guardian, 2003, painted steel, 5 ½ x 3 x 2½ feet; Sculpture Park Curator David Weinrib with sculptor Leon Smith

Photos: Diana Pau (Sculptures); Joann Weinrib (Weinrib and Smith)



PALSS Organizer Debera Johnson and Bill Barrett, executive director of AICADThe Pratt Academic Leadership Summit on Sustainability brought together administrators, professors, and other officials from 33 independent colleges of art and design from the U.S. and Canada, to trade ideas about making their campuses and curricula more environmentally sustainable. They also formed a working group to leverage resources and to forge ways to collaborate between institutions. 

The conference took place at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and at Pratt’s Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses from September 29 through October 2.

“There is an obvious opportunity for higher education to lead in the area of sustainability,” said Design Management Chair Mary McBride in her Friday morning session Getting the Wheels of Change Moving. “People are looking for leadership. They are looking for guidance.”

The summit was organized, designed, and facilitated by Debera Johnson, Pratt’s academic director of sustainability. She said more than any other type of institution, art and design schools are uniquely positioned to be leaders in environmental sustainability. The group focused on three key themes; making the invisible visible, understand design as a “super power”, and linking sustainability to the viability of academic institutions.

“As artists and designers we have a native talent for the iterative process,” she said. “We understand the value of the "fail and fix" process that leads to transformative change."

Collaborating is a key driver for implementing sustainability across campuses, said Bill Barrett, conference sponsor and executive director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

“There is a tremendous amount of effort going on in every school,” he said. “But what is going on is at a close-to-the-ground level. There needs to be a centralized resource for all the schools so they are not re-inventing the wheel.”

At the end of the conference, the participants presented their plans to Pratt trustee Mike Pratt,  President Thomas F. Schutte, Provost Peter Barna, and School of Art and Design Dean Concetta M. Stewart. 

The four were encouraging of the cohort members’ ideas, with Stewart advising them to explore what existing structures their schools may already have in place and consider innovating new structures that would allow them to expand sustainability programs. 

The PALSS cohort plans to meet regularly via Web conference to address the action items established at the conference. Over the next year the cohort will move forward with implementing some of the key themes and publish a report they hope will serve as a model for collaboration that can be replicated by other institutions.

Johnson says participants were extremely energized. “I knew they were going to be engaged, but the passion for collaboration has far exceeded our expectations. Says Johnson,  “I can’t wait for PALSS 2011 when we will come together to celebrate what we’ve accomplished and take on the next batch of challenges.”

(Photo left) Design Management Chair Mary McBride (Photo right) L-R: Chris Chapin, Kansas City Art Institute, Robert J. Koester, Ball State University; Karl Burkheimer, Oregon College of Art and Crafts

Photos: Diana Pau



The quarterly magazine published by the Design Management graduate program has just published its fifth issue, focusing on designing for new economies and redefining the role design plays in social innovation.

Since launching in May, 2009, CATALYST: Strategic Design Review has received significant praise and attracted high-profile contributors. The editor in chief of Metropolis magazine has praised the publication for its “timely coverage… beautifully crafted layouts… and liberal mix of topics.” The Design Management program, which offers an alternative to the traditional MBA focused on the needs of creative professionals, was selected as one of Business Week's best global programs.

The Fall, 2010 issue “Designing Wellbeing: For All and Each”—is one that Mary McBride, chair of the Design Management program, says “makes apparent that creating economic value can also create well-being for individuals, community, and our shared world. Strategic design can create alternatives that are cost effective and toxin free.”

Feature articles consider wellbeing, social innovation, and policy in Europe; community wellbeing at the state-of-the-art, LEED-certified entertainment venue Brooklyn Bowl; and the Rainforest Alliance’s creation of sustainable business standards.

CATALYST is free to online subscribers. If you would like to enter the conversation about how design and business can create social innovation and new economic value, view the current issue



Traditional Asian foods were served on the Brooklyn campus in honor of the harvest festivals.With students from Asia representing the highest percentage of international students at Pratt, the Office of International Affairs hosted an Asian barbeque to invite the Pratt community to share in the tradition kept in many Asian countries of celebrating the autumn harvest.

The line snaked from the Rose Garden, around the Pratt Library, and out to the DeKalb Street gate, as students awaited their chance to savor Kalbi (marinated short beef ribs) Kimchee Jigae (vegetarian slaw), Bi Bim Bap (rice with vegetarian toppings), and Moon Cake pastries. The barbeque celebrated two harvest holidays, both observed on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar: Chuseok, the Korean “Thanksgiving,” and Zhongqiu,the Chinese Moon Festival, one of the most important holidays on the Chinese calendar. Both celebrate a successful harvest.



Photo: Diana Pau