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.


David Easton, Pete Hamill, Margaret Russell, and James Turrell to be Honored at Legends 2013

L–R: David Easton, Pete Hamill, Margaret Russell, James TurrellCelebrate Pratt on Monday, November 11 at Legends 2013, a scholarship benefit honoring icons of art and design. Hosted this year against a sweeping backdrop of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline at the Mandarin Oriental, the annual event honors icons of art and design whose works have helped shape our cultural landscape.

Legends 2013 will honor renowned interior designer David Easton; journalist and New York Times best-selling author Pete Hamill; Architectural Digest editor-in-chief Margaret Russell; and groundbreaking contemporary artist James Turrell. Ted Allen, the host of the primetime Food Network series Chopped, will emcee.

Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, will be presenting the award to David Easton; award-winning film and television director Bob Giraldi will be presenting to Pete Hamill; David Rockwell, founder and CEO of Rockwell Group, will be presenting to Margaret Russell; and Carmen Giménez, curator of 20th-Century Art, Guggenheim Museum, will be giving James Turrell the Legends award.

The award winners are distinguished individuals whose accomplishments and values resonate with those of Pratt:

David Easton (B.F.A. Interior Design ’63), Principal, David Easton Inc., is being recognized for creating inspired environments that reflect the mastery of his craft and set standards for excellence in design. He has been named to Architectural Digest’s list of the “Top 100 Designers in the World” a record 10 times.

Pete Hamill, who studied illustration and communications design at Pratt in the 1950s, is being recognized as an award-winning American literary icon whose work captures the stories that shape the human experience. A prolific author of numerous articles, essays, short stories, and eleven novels, Hamill’s work often features his New York City hometown.

Margaret Russell is being recognized as one of the world’s leading design authorities and media innovators. Prior to joining Architectural Digest, Russell served as vice president and editor-in-chief of Elle Décor, a publication that she helped launch in 1989.

James Turrell, whose innovative explorations with light and space were featured in three blockbuster exhibitions across the United States in 2013, is being recognized as a role model for visionaries in all fields. His works have engaged viewers with the limits of wonder and human perception for more than half a century.

This year the awards being given to the honorees were designed by seniors in the Industrial Design Department, Alexander Pinks and Isabella Minkyung Shin, who worked closely with Karen Stone, adjunct associate professor and director of design at Knoll, to refine their concepts for an end result befitting the design leaders that would be receiving them.

The event's mission is to raise funds to provide financial aid to Pratt students based on need and merit. Eighty percent of Pratt's students require financial aid to pursue their educations. Every dollar raised through Legends strengthens the student body by increasing the scholarship endowment and allowing the most qualified students, regardless of their financial backgrounds, an opportunity to attend one of the world's foremost schools of art, design, and architecture.

The Legends Awards were conceived in 1999 by the Board of Trustees to celebrate distinguished individuals and companies in the world of art and design, whose accomplishments and values resonate with those of Pratt Institute. Past Legends Awards recipients include Laurie Anderson, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Marc Jacobs, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Meier, Beverly Pepper, David Rockwell, Patti Smith, Julie Taymor, Bruce Weber, William Wegman, Robert Wilson, and Eva Zeisel.
Monday, November 11
6 PM Cocktails, 7 PM Dinner and Awards
Mandarin Oriental, 80 Columbus Circle, New York City

Click here for tickets, tables, and contributions.

Text: Amy Aronoff, Bay Brown
Photos: Michael Weschler, Deirdre Hamill, Quest Imagery, Joshua McHugh, Florian Holzherr


U.S. News & World Report Ranks Pratt in the Top 20

For the second year in a row, Pratt ranked 20th in U.S. News World Report’s “Regional Universities North” category, which includes institutions that provide a full range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Pratt was the only independent college of art and design to place in this category.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the "Best Colleges 2014" rankings allow comparisons of the relative quality of institutions based on such widely accepted indicators of excellence such as freshman retention, graduation rates, and the strength of faculty. More information on the U.S. News & World Report ranking system can be found here.

Text: Kate Ünver
Photo: Peter Tannenbaum



L–R: David Downey, President & CEO, International Downtown Association; Thomas Chatmon, Chair, International Downtown Association; Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte; New York City Mayor Bloomberg; Michael Blaise Backer, Executive Director, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn PartnershipOn October 8, Pratt hosted a plenary session for the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) World Congress and 59th Annual Conference. The event featured New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other local city and nonprofit leaders as well as introductory remarks by President Thomas F. Schutte. The four-day event brought together diverse practitioners from around the world focused on urban planning issues and improving city life and governance.

Pratt was selected to host the session due to the international reputation of its City and Regional Planning program and its role in the recent rejuvenation of the Clinton Hill community. President Schutte discussed his long and ongoing affiliation with the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership—an organization dedicated to economic revitalization in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene—which he has chaired since its establishment in 1999.
“Pratt has reaped the benefits of our foresight in strengthening and partnering with the local business community,” President Schutte told the crowd. “We continue to hold the surrounding business improvement districts in high esteem as vital partners in Pratt’s mission to educate creative professionals to be responsible contributors to society.”

Bloomberg touched on similar themes. He discussed the steps his administration has taken to revitalize derelict or underused spaces within all five boroughs, touting in particular the Kingsbridge Armory, a Bronx building that will be transformed into the world's largest indoor ice-skating rink. Bloomberg shared his credo that "the more you make a neighborhood friendly, the better it is for the people who live there" and expressed hope that the next mayoral administration would continue working to revitalize the city.

Mayor Bloomberg’s address was followed by a master talk featuring Rob Walsh, commissioner of small business services of Brooklyn, among other urban development experts. Some 500 people attended the event, which garnered press coverage in the Brooklyn Eagle and am New York.

The IDA is a Washington DC–based urban planning association that connects diverse practitioners who transform cities into healthy and vibrant places. Additional conference host partners included the City Parks Alliance, New York University, and The New York Times.

Text: Ruth Samuelson; Bay Brown
Photo: Samuel Stuart


Students Learning From Superstorm Sandy a Year Later

A student in the green infrastructure course explains her work to Red Hook community members in AugustFor all its destruction, Superstorm Sandy possessed a silver lining: it provided a “teachable moment.”
Since the storm struck New York City roughly a year ago on October 29, Pratt professors and students have studied a broad range of issues related to disaster preparedness and climate change. They also sought to ease New Yorkers’ suffering immediately following the storm.

The Pratt Disaster Resilience Network (PDRN) was perhaps the first group on campus to focus on Sandy relief. The organization collected and distributed donations and coordinated volunteer opportunities for the Pratt community. An alumni group, called Storm Support, sold shirts and bags specially designed around Sandy-related relief efforts themes, with all proceeds going to charity. Led by 2012 undergraduate communications design alumni Walter Shock, Anshey Bhatia, and Jesse Resnick, this design-centric website raised nearly $10,000, all of which was given to the Robin Hood Foundation, according to Shock.

This past summer, the School of Architecture also launched RAMP—which stands for Recovery, Adaptation, Mitigation, and Planning—an interdisciplinary program of undergraduate and graduate studios that connects budding architects and urban planners with local communities tackling problems posed by climate change. A team of Pratt faculty members led the summer studios, which focused on creating housing, green infrastructure, and community planning solutions for the Sandy-ravaged Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. The effort in Red Hook continues and this fall the team expanded their focus to include Coney Island and in the spring will add the Rockaways, where some Pratt-related activities are already underway.

RAMP participants worked together with city-wide advocacy groups and community groups such as the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), Red Hook Initiative, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, Good Jobs New York, The New York Bar Association, and others. Task forces were created to focus on topics such as Innovative Finance, Broadband and New Technologies, Public Housing and Health, providing technical and other support for the studio-based initiatives undertaken by the students. 

“RAMP’s strength and appeal is that it builds in the synergy of this inclusive effort to address adaptation to climate change, while helping to build the social networks and social cohesion necessary to address such a complex undertaking,” says Ron Shiffman, a professor in the Graduate Center for Planning.

The initial success of the program allowed the team to win grant funding. The model of a holistic and transdisciplinary approach to rebuilding and the integration of partnerships with both the professional and advocacy communities led CSI to ask Pratt to join it in a special effort to address the needs of the most vulnerable communities exposed to the threats of climate change. With the support of CSI and groups like the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Pratt received a grant of $120,000 from the Kresge Foundation to continue to explore this refined pedagogical model for addressing climate change in an equitable manner. To learn more about RAMP's work attend one of three events this fall that are part of the series, Our Climate, Our City, Our Future: Hurricane Sandy One Year Later, co-sponsored by Pratt, CSI, and the Marfa Dialogues.

Those areas are already familiar to at least one Pratt faculty member, James Garrison, adjunct associate professor, Graduate Architecture and Urban Design Department.  Garrison built new modular restroom and lifeguard stations there to replace facilities damaged by Sandy. 

Continuing in that vein, Garrison is developing a prototype for emergency housing to be used in similar disaster scenarios. Construction of a temporary three-story prototype is planned for this fall on Cadman Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn. The goal is to use the prototype as part of a pre-planning exercise, with people living in the complex’s three separate apartments to test them out. (The project is supported by the city’s Office of Emergency Management in collaboration with a number of other city, regional, and federal entities.)

The project also dovetails with RAMP. On the prototype’s ground floor, a gallery will feature work by architecture students who participated in one of the program’s studios last summer. 

As the city approaches the first anniversary of Sandy, Pratt is also co-sponsoring several events in the Marfa Dialogues/New York series, which examines climate change science, environmental activism, and artistic practice. What’s clear is that Pratt will not soon forget Sandy and its impact.

“Superstorm Sandy woke up the establishment to issues that we and our allies have been advocating for the past decade,” says Shiffman. “Climate change to my mind is the greatest challenge that we face as a people. While it is a challenge, it’s also an enormous opportunity for the next generation of planners.” 

Watch Shiffman tell Gateway about RAMP. 

Text: Bay Brown; Ruth Samuelson
Images: Peter Tannenbaum