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.




Celebrated journalist and novelist Kurt Andersen addressed graduates at Pratt Institute’s 124th Commencement on May 14. Andersen, a Pratt trustee, is the host of the Peabody Award-winning public radio show Studio 360. Andersen spoke about the value of "the amateur spirit," which he described as the desire to always try new things.

For the fourth time in Pratt’s history, the event was held at Radio City Music Hall, with 1,470 students, both graduates and undergraduates, crossing the stage and becoming alumni.

The Institute awarded honorary degrees to photographer Lee Friedlander, author Daniel Pink, and The New Yorker Art Editor Françoise Mouly. Undergraduate Architecture Professor Theoharis David received the Distinguished Teacher Award for 2013–2014.

Text and Production: Bay Brown
Videography and Production: Peter Tannenbaum


Film/Video to Launch New Curriculum in Cutting-Edge Facility

The Film/Video Department will launch its updated curriculum in its new Myrtle Avenue building, set to open in 2014.

The camera is the new pen.

People have communicated their ideas in writing for millennia, but today they’re also turning to video, according to Leighton Pierce, acting dean of the School of Art and Design. “Most students come to school now with some experience making videos, regardless of their educational interests,” he says. “Video is no longer just for people who want to make filmmaking their career. It has become integral to all disciplines.”

With that fundamental shift in mind, Pratt is launching a new era of Film/Video on campus. The program will soon relocate to 550 Myrtle Avenue, the former location of the Pratt Store, with greatly updated facilities including two sound stages, a sound-mixing facility, a screening room with 100 seats—which may be used for public screenings or pre-screenings for industry professionals and independent filmmakers—as well as studios and classrooms featuring the latest equipment. Construction is set to begin this summer, and the building will open fall 2014.

The undergraduate program expects to more than double its enrollment from 78 to a projected 180 to 200 students by 2016. Already, applications to Pratt’s Film/Video program have increased steadily in the last ten years from 95 in 2002 to 175 in 2012, a trend that aligns with film schools nationwide.

While providing a solid education in traditional fiction and documentary modes, the recently-updated undergraduate Film/Video curriculum also takes advantage of Pratt’s resources across artistic disciplines. Film students are required to study in departments such as Fashion, Media Studies, Communication Design, Fine Arts, Photography, etc.

Pierce says, “We are educating technically adept and conceptually adaptable video artists and designers—people who will lead the development of new applications for video rather than simply training students for traditional industry roles.”

Reflecting this philosophy, the department is developing a master’s film degree program and several minors, involving cross disciplinary studies between fashion and filmmaking as well as fashion and interior design. 

Pierce is also confident the new building will draw applicants. “It is beautifully designed with many high-tech features that will help us promote ourselves,” he says. 

The new facilities are being designed by architectural firm WASA/Studio A, which was the firm that designed Myrtle Hall, Pratt’s sustainably-designed, LEED gold administrative and academic building at 536 Myrtle Avenue. The city is planning a $6-million facelift of the blocks in front of the Film/Video building, creating a broader pedestrian walkway with new bus stops and landscaping, a permanent art installation, game tables, and a water fountain.

Pierce adds, “All of these physical and curricular changes will transform Pratt’s Film/Video program for both students, faculty, and the community, allowing for an extraordinary learning and teaching experience that aligns with current technological and cultural advances in the industry.”

Text: Ruth Samuelson


Industrial Design Exchange Program Goes to Tokyo, London

Students at Tachilab, Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University build robots as part of their curriculum.

Pratt’s newest international program, Global Innovation Design (GID), offers three takes on graduate industrial design in three of the world’s most dynamic cities.

Starting this September, seven Pratt Industrial Design second-year masters candidates will spend an academic year abroad: the fall semester at Keio University in Tokyo in the media design program, and the following semester at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London (in collaboration with Imperial College London). At the same time, 12 students from London and eight from Tokyo—switching countries on the same schedule—will come to Pratt. This coming year is the GID’s first; eventually, 12 students from each city will participate in the program.

“This is a program that’s unlikely to exist in any one school—it’s synergistic at a very high level, linking four of the world’s most celebrated design institutions,” says Steve Diskin, chair of Industrial Design. “Our mission is to educate a new generation of designers as powerful, savvy citizens of the world who understand the full scope and potential of design.”

Each school will give students a profound cultural experience and diverse skill set: at Pratt, students will study advanced form, color and design methodologyat Keio, students will have access to high-tech prototyping, robotics, and Japanese pop culture; at RCA/Imperial, the curriculum will emphasize engineering, invention, and prototyping. Each school will offer a different slant on international design and entrepreneurship.

Although the students from New York, London, and Tokyo will not live on the same campus together, all 27 participants will meet virtually every week to collaborate on a large-scale international project in addition to their local studies.

Katrin Mueller-Russo, a professor in the Industrial Design Department, says that Pratt students and professors traveled to Japan and England in the past year to experience classes in the different universities and provide feedback for the program.

“For some of the students, it’s something out of their comfort zone. They’re good at conceptualizing things, but they had not necessarily experienced certain approaches,” she says.  “So it was really interesting to see the students think ‘what are we getting ourselves into?’ and then come away with such positive experiences, seeing how quickly their sensibilities were expanding.”

Aldana Ferrer Garcia, a native of Buenos Aires, is one of the Pratt students who will be participating as a “pioneer” in the first round of the program. As an international student, she’s already interacting with a new culture while studying, but now she’s thirsty for more travel. “You are really aware of your own culture and you understand that it’s a contrast with other cultures,” she says. “I’m excited about having a different filter for each one of the places. So maybe you’re working with the same premise, but trying very different methods. You need to know how people perceive the world or face whatever problem they have,” she says.

Text: Ruth Samuelson
Photo: Courtesy of Tachilab, Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University