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.


pratt rallies for hurricane sandy victims

While Pratt itself was largely spared the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, members of its community lost power, lost water, or had their homes damaged and made inhabitable. Elisabetta DiStefano, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), was one such person. Her home in Howard Beach, Queens, flooded causing considerable damage and lost electricity for over a week. Her family has yet to move back.

Pratt Graduate Communications Design student Maura M. Frana’s ground-floor apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, was flooded, ruining many of her belongings. In a story the New York Times ran on November 7 on the exacerbated scarcity of affordable housing in light of the storm, she told the paper, “Everything is going within hours of becoming available.” The Office of Students Affairs ensured that Di Stefano, Frana, and four other displaced students were given housing in the residence halls and at the Pratt House, the president’s official residence.

By far, the worst damage in the New York area was in Coney Island, the Rockaways, Red Hook, Gowanus, and parts of New Jersey. The Pratt community quickly organized to share their skills, be they sandwich-making or long-term disaster planning. Within days of the hurricane, the Pratt Community Engagement Board had partnered with the Programs for Planning and Sustainable Development students to form a new relief organization called Pratt Disaster Resilience Network (PDRN).

The organization was created by students “in response to the disconnect between people who need help and those who can give help in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.” They organized multiple drop-off points on campus for donations for relief efforts and created a blog for the Pratt Community. So far they have delivered 20 carloads of donations and have had 40 volunteers working on-site in the Rockaways.

“I am proud of our students,” said Helen Matusow-Ayers, Vice President for Student Affairs. “I am impressed by how they care about the community and how organized they have been in putting this together.” 

While PDRN members represent the range of disciplines on campus and, in turn, serve as liaisons to those programs, the group is led by a core of graduate students in the planning department. In addition to organizing donations and volunteers to help with cleaning up debris in the Rockaways, their long-term mission is to promote grassroots action and long-term planning for disaster resilience with a focus on equity and justice of response.

According to Alix Fellman, the group coordinator for PDRN, streamlining communication and understanding community need is a huge part of their mission. “We are trying to strategize about what resources Pratt can put towards the larger community. A lot of our work is about partnering with community organizations,” says Fellman. “We already had a relationship with the environmental group, the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance."

The other goal of PDRN is to look to the future and look at how outside community groups can develop their capacities in preparation for disasters. “Small community groups aren’t in the disaster business but they end up being the first responders when it comes to things like food access or the environment,” says Fellman. “We want to make sure they have the resources they need."

PDRN is also looking at what kind of policy needs to be put in place from the city level on up to the national level. “What kind of policies do we need to put in place in terms of infrastructure, rebuilding, and the human component of getting through all of the bureaucracy just to get help?” asks Fellman. One great concern of PDRN is the interim housing challenge, particularly for the thousands of people displaced from public housing. “Where are they going to stay?,” says Fellman. “Will we construct prefab housing as they did after Katrina? Where will it be sited? If we put it near their former homes they risk being hit again."

SGA President DiStefano, who is completing her M.S. in Communications Design this semester and starting another M.S. in City and Regional Planning next semester, is helping with PDRN's communications efforts. With an already strong interest in the role of community boards in the city, she is creating an initiative to unify the disparate boards through social media, with her twitter account gaining the most traction thus far. "I know community boards are stretched thin," says DiStefano. "However I think they are capable of accomplishing more with better integrated communication."

While the storm was a disaster, the volunteers are having a very positive learning experience. “Everybody jumped in and worked together,” said Fellman. “It has been amazing, especially as we get toward the end of the semester and everyone is on edge already.” They hope to have a summer institute on disaster planning if they can’t integrate it into their classes in the spring. Through their volunteering thus far they have been making contacts with high-profile professionals in the field who have agreed to work with them in the classroom.

A number of Pratt faculty are lending their expertise to the rebuilding effort as well. Architect and Pratt faculty member Jim Garrison held a workshop in Red Hook for homeowners and business owners to share rebuilding resources, where he explained some of the more arcane FEMA guidelines, and advised regarding updated mechanical systems that are less expensive and less flood-prone.

Text: Bay Brown

Building Businesses and Selling Wares for Sandy Victims

In an effort to help local manufacturers get back on their feet after Super Storm Sandy, Pratt Center for Community Development has launched the Made in NYC Holiday Shop, an online holiday shop featuring a variety of goods including locally-made desserts, handbags, and toys from 170 local manufacturers who employ over 3,000 workers.

"The city's small manufacturers are critical to a healthy, diverse economy with good jobs for New Yorkers, and to the character and soul of our neighborhoods," said Adam Friedman, Director, Pratt Center. "By shopping Made in NYC, consumers are helping businesses to finance their new inventory, pay their workers, and restore the local economy," he added.

L to R: Brooklyn-based Amy's Cookies is one of the businesses participating in the Pratt Center's Made in NYC Holiday Store; Days after the storm, Pratt alumni launched Storm Support to raise money for hurricane victims by selling the products they design.Storm Support is a Pratt alumni initiative that launched in the days after the hurricane. Led by 2012 undergraduate communications design alumni Walter Shock, Anshey Bhatia, and Jesse Resnick, it is a design-centric e-commerce hub where sales proceeds from merchandise—from t-shirts to totes all with compelling graphics—sourced from designers will be donated directly to rebuild the lives of Sandy victims.

"Since we started, we've had 200 orders and 300 'likes' on Facebook,” says Shock. “Our plan is to continue to develop the brand and turn this into a full-time nonprofit."

"We're taking artwork submissions and selecting the ones that appropriately fit the brand. We've been lucky enough to get artwork submitted from top designers at Apple in California and around the New York metro area,” added Shock. “We'd love to get some international submissions as well!"

Text: Bay Brown


What do the Chrysler Building, Big Bird, and OXO Good Grips have in common? They were all designed by Pratt alumni or faculty. Pratt Manhattan Gallery will commemorate Pratt Institute’s milestone 125th anniversary with the November 30 opening of 125 Icons: A Celebration of Works by Pratt Alumni and Faculty 1887
2012. The 125 works in 125 Icons were selected by alumni, faculty, students, and staff from over 300 works by alumni and faculty that compose Pratt’s online “Icons Gallery.”

“This exhibition is the grand finale of Pratt’s 16-month 125th anniversary celebration,” said Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte. “We’re excited to bring together these iconic works at Pratt Manhattan Gallery and to commemorate the achievements of alumni and faculty who have helped make the Institute what it is today,” he added.

“These works of art, design, and architecture comprise all facets of our lives including the spaces we inhabit, the products we use, the media we consume, and the art that inspires us,” said Todd Galitz, vice president for Institutional Advancement at Pratt Institute, who has spearheaded an effort over the last three years to identify many of these iconic works.

Iconic works include New York’s landmark Chrysler Building (designed by alumnus and architect William van Alen), groundbreaking covers of Esquire magazine (designed by alumnus and master communicator George Lois), Sesame Street’s beloved Big Bird (created by Jim Henson and brought to life by faculty member and master puppet builder Kermit Love), Scrabble (conceived by alumnus and out-of-work architect Alfred Mosher Butts during the Depression), the sleek Corvette C5 (redesigned by alumnus and industrial designer John Cafaro), OXO Good Grips (co-launched by alumnus and industrial designer Tucker Viemeister), and the Dunkin’ Donuts logo (colors and typeface selected by alumna, faculty member, and industrial designer Lucia DeRespinis). To view these iconic works and more by Pratt alumni and faculty, please visit Pratt’s Icons Gallery.

The specific works to be included in the exhibition were announced on October 15 at Pratt’s 125th Anniversary Gala at the Waldorf=Astoria. Designed in 1929 by Pratt architecture alumnus Lloyd Morgan, this famed hotel is yet another example of Pratt’s iconic cultural legacy.

November 30, 2012January 19, 2013
Pratt Manhattan Gallery
144 West 14th Street, Second Floor
Gallery Hours: Monday
Saturday, 11 AM6 PM; Thursdays, 11 AM8 PM

Pratt Manhattan Gallery will be closed December 22, 2012 through January 1, 2013.

Pratt's celebratory 125th Anniversary year comes to a close on December 31, 2012. In honor of this momentous occasion in Pratt's history, all members of the Pratt community are encouraged to follow @PrattInstitute on TwitterHelp us achieve 12,500 followers before January 1, 2013 by spreading the word online!

Text: Bay Brown
Photos: Courtesy of participating artists and designers



Pratt Institute's graduate program in industrial design was recently ranked 2nd in the country—up from 7th in 2012—based on surveys completed by industry professionals and made available through monthly architecture and design journal, DesignIntelligence (DI). Pratt's undergraduate program in industrial design ranked 3rd in the nation, up from 9th in 2012.

The Institute's graduate program in interior design ranked 3rd in the nation for the second consecutive year. Additionally, the Institute's undergraduate interior design program ranked 4th (was 3rd in 2012), and undergraduate architecture program ranked 11th (was 10th in 2012) in the nation.

Pratt's design programs have consistently been ranked among the top in the nation, with its graduate interior design program ranked 1st in the nation from 2009–2011 and its undergraduate interior design program ranked 2nd in the nation from 2008–2011 and in 2006.

In a skills assessment survey conducted by DesignIntelligence, hiring firms found Pratt Institute's Interior Design department strongest in educating students in the following skill areas: communication; design, cross-disciplinary teamwork; and research and theory. DesignIntelligence's survey of deans and department chairs in interior design ranked Pratt's undergraduate program 2nd in the nation and praised it for its great faculty and quality design work.

DesignIntelligence's skills assessment survey of hiring firms found Pratt Institute's Industrial Design department strongest in design education. Pratt's undergraduate program in industrial design was ranked 3rd in the nation by deans and department chairs in industrial design in a survey conducted by DI. Those surveyed also commended Pratt for its focus on individual students and resulting innovative, creative graduates. Pratt's graduate program in industrial design was ranked 5th for its strong and diverse faculty and professional program.

"The DesignIntelligence rankings showcase the schools that best prepare their students for success in their profession," said Peter Barna, provost of Pratt Institute. "We help students develop critical skills and perspectives on design that prepare them to be leaders in their fields, so it's no surprise that Pratt's programs in industrial design, interior design, and architecture are consistently highly ranked according to DI's surveys," he added.

Pratt's undergraduate architecture program ranked 4th and its graduate program ranked 8th in the East. Among firms in the East, Pratt's undergraduate architecture program was ranked 5th. DI also included alumnus David Tubridy (B. Arch. at Pratt, M. Arch. at Harvard), who is president of Bergmeyer Associates, Inc., in its 2013 Design Leadership Index, which is a sampling of industry leaders in award-winning firms and their graduate affiliations.

The rankings are part of DI's 2013 "America's Best Architecture and Design Schools" issue, which it has published annually since 2000. The journal ranked design programs from throughout the United States based on surveys completed by professionals in architecture and design firms with direct experience hiring and supervising the performance of recent graduates in their fields. These are the only school rankings based exclusively on companies' perceptions of how well schools prepare their graduates for professional practice.

DesignIntelligence is issued by the Design Futures Council (DFC), a global network of design community professionals. Founded in 1995, the DFC aims to advance the design community by exploring trends, changes, and new opportunities in design and architecture.

Text: Amy Aronoff
Photo: Bob Handelman