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 is Major Catalyst for City's Economic Growth, Says Center for Urban Future Report

Report Praises Pratt's Design Incubator as Only One of its Kind in New York City


Pratt alumna Shannon South of reMade USA at work at Pratt's Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation, which has helped launch 25 businesses since its 2002 inception.

Pratt Institute is a major driver of New York City's economic engine, according to a March 2012 report published by the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a Manhattan-based think tank. Pratt was featured in the report for its support of entrepreneurs through The Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation; for significant investments that demonstrate its active commitment to the local community; for the number of degrees it awards to designers and architects, many of whom work for New York City's leading design and architectural firms; and for the talent it brings to the city from around the globe.    
The report, titled "Designing New York's Future," draws from a wide range of institutional data, survey results, and extensive interviews with representatives from New York's design and architecture communities. It acknowledges New York City's design colleges as critical catalysts for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth that are poised to play an even more central role in New York's economic future.    
"The results of the report are no surprise as Pratt Institute is one of the world's foremost design institutions and has played an active role in New York City's economy and culture for the past 125 years. I'm pleased that the report helps quantify Pratt's impact in a way that illustrates the depth of its influence," said Pratt Institute President Thomas F. Schutte. "We take great pride in the fact the majority of our graduates stay in the New York City area, many near Pratt's home in Brooklyn, to start their own businesses or to become leaders at the city's top creative firms," he added.    
The report highlighted the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation, the only one of its kind among colleges of art and design in New York City, as a prime example of an initiative that fuels new businesses and spurs economic growth. The Pratt Design Incubator was founded in 2002 by Debera Johnson to help student thesis projects move toward viable, sustainably focused business enterprises and is based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Since its inception, it has helped launch over 25 businesses in clean-tech, social innovation, fashion design, design consulting, furniture design, and product design. The businesses collectively support 60 jobs and $4 million in revenue per year.   
The report cites Pratt Institute investments like Myrtle Hall, the Institute's LEED-gold certified academic and administrative building located on the revitalized Myrtle Avenue commercial district in Brooklyn, as vital to community development. Myrtle Hall, which opened in 2010, was highlighted as an example of a multi-million dollar investment by a New York design college that "provided new amenities for students and benefited the urban fabric of the surrounding neighborhoods." Since becoming president of Pratt Institute in 1993, Thomas F. Schutte has worked tirelessly to revitalize the area surrounding Pratt, and serves as chair of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership.
One of the report's key focuses is on the entrepreneurial talents of the city's design college graduates, many of whom stay in the city upon graduation. The report cites a 2009 survey from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAPP) that found that 19 percent of all Pratt, Parsons, and SVA graduates, including non-design graduates like performing arts majors, went on to start their own businesses; the average for all the art schools surveyed by SNAPP was 14 percent. In CUF's 2011 survey of trade association members, an equivalent 19 percent of New York City design college graduates indicated that they had either founded their own businesses or moved into an executive position at an existing one.   

The report quoted Debera Johnson, founder of the Design Incubator and Pratt's academic director of sustainability, on the successes of the Design Incubator and she talked about plans to triple its size. Pratt Provost Peter Barna was quoted as equating freelancers with sole-proprietorships, encouraging freelancers who want to be successful to function like a small business.  
A number of Pratt alumni were also quoted, including Sam Cochran, Steph Mantis, and Diane Ruengsorn in a special Q and A section with young design entrepreneurs. Cochran, a member of Pratt's Design Incubator, said the Design Incubator is the best resource for Pratt student designers in providing the expertise needed to start a business, and mentioned how, as a student, he would seek guidance from his Pratt professors for getting a business off the ground. Mantis talked about her experience in taking an idea she had for a product, manufacturing it, and selling it with great success. Ruengsorn stressed the need for business training to go "further and faster."  
The report also notes that New York City graduates twice as many students in design and architecture as any other U.S. city at 4,278, compared to the city with the second most graduates, Los Angeles, at 1,769, according to 2010 figures. Enrollment at New York's design colleges has been growing at a faster rate than at other universities in the city, up 34 percent between 2001 and 2010.
Pratt is number six in the country for the number of design degrees awarded each year, and number eight in the country for the number of architecture degrees awarded each year.        

The Center for an Urban Future is dedicated to independent, fact-based research about critical issues affecting New York's future, including economic development, workforce development, higher education, and the arts. For more information, please visit www.nycfuture.org.  

To download the full report, please click here.

Text: Amy Aronoff
Photo: Jonathan Weitz   


Alumna Wins Academy Award for Work on Animated Film 

Video still from Academy Award-winning film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, for which Digital Arts alumna Kyoung “Kay” Park provided technical direction

A Digital Arts department graduate, Kyoung “Kay” Park (M.F.A.’07), was the character technical director for the movie that won this year's Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film category—The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

The film, about a man who is invited into a houseful of animated books in the wake of a hurricane, was created by Shreveport, Louisiana-based Moonbot Studios. For the film, Park, along with her crewmates, rigged most of the characters, modeled props and extra characters, and worked for months on the film’s rigging, simulation, and lighting. She and the team of more than 50 other people employed a variety of techniques—using miniatures, computer animation, and 2-D animation—to achieve a hybrid style of old-fashioned and cutting-edge animation.

Video stills from Academy Award®-winning film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, for which Digital Arts alumna Kyoung “Kay” Park provided technical direction.

Park was born in Pusan, South Korea, and grew up in Gainesville, Florida. Prior to her studies in Pratt’s Digital Arts department, Park attended the University of Florida as a computer science major.

She credits her time at Pratt with providing her the knowledge and experience she used in working on Morris Lessmore.

“Through my time at Pratt, I learned that rigging is a mixed art of being technical and creative. Another great quality of the program was the student club TAG (The Animation Group), in which students and professors—such as Sean Sullivan and Andrei Savu—worked together to create a film from scratch: from story to the final animation.”

Park’s 2007 thesis animation, Manny, was selected and screened at more than 25 festivals in the U.S. and internationally between 2007 and 2009.

“Pratt provided me the opportunity to learn from talented professors and experts in the field of digital arts, and also gave me the experience of learning from my hardworking peers,” says Park. Her advice to current Pratt digital arts students: “Always work and interact with your classmates. They can probably see things you’ve missed and these interactions can always improve your work.”

Text: Kate Ünver
Photos: Courtesy of Kyoung "Kay" Park and Moonbot Studios


Design Students Take Top Prizes in Lighting Competition

Pratt designs chosen from more than 100 submissions from six schools

Clockwise from left: Sejung Oh's winning Dal Beat design; Sang Yoon-Lee's second-place winning Ivre design; and honorable mention designs Quasar, Nova, and Obscura by Andrew An, Caleb Ferris, and David Krawczyk, respectively.Pratt Institute sophomores Sejung Oh and Sang Yoon-Lee were awarded the top two prizes in the Illuminating Engineering Society of New York City’s (IESNYC) annual lighting design competition.

The Pratt students participated as part of their Industrial Design II studio course, co-taught by faculty members Patrick Fenton, Scott Lundberg, Jeanne Pfordresher, Willy Schwenzfeier, and Jonathan Thayer. Interpreting the theme of "Fraction/Refraction," the students were required to submit a three-dimensional study on how light plays with textures and flows through materials to create layers of contrast. More than 100 entries from six New York colleges and universities competed for cash prizes.

Sejung Oh's grand prize-winning design, Dal Beat, is a drum filled with water and light that, when trapped, creates a refraction of light and evokes the way that moonlight reflects on water. It is constructed of acrylic, LED strips, and MDF. "The name Dal Beat is derived from dal bit, which is Korean for 'moonlight,’” explained Oh. “I changed the name of my project as an invitation to viewers to tap or beat the drum to see the movement of the light,” he added.

Oh, who hails from from Seoul, Korea, will receive a three-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Paris and $2,000 from Debbas International, a multinational technology and services conglomerate. He will also have the opportunity to interface with lighting engineers and designers at the firm's new Paris showroom and exhibition space, L'Atelier, and at La Machine, Debbas International's factory outside the city.    

Sang Yoon-Lee, who comes from Gyunggi Ilsan, Korea, was recognized with second place for his Ivre lighting design, for which IESNYC awarded him a cash prize of $1,000.   

Pratt students also won three out of four honorable mentions. Andrew An, a sophomore from Irvine, California, was recognized for his design, Quasar. David Krawczyk, a junior from Roanoke, Virginia, was recognized for his design, Obscura. Caleb Ferris, a sophomore from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was recognized for his design, Nova.           

The Illuminating Engineering Society, founded in 1906, is dedicated to promoting the art and science of lighting. The New York City Section of the IESNYC is a non-profit membership organization composed of designers, engineers, architects, manufacturers, and others who seek to educate the general public about aesthetically pleasing and energy-efficient lighting technology.

Text: Amy Aronoff
Naomi Castillo Photography