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.


Obama Taps Ellsworth Kelly and Brad Lander

Ellsworth Kelly and President Barack ObamaThe White House recently honored two prominent Pratt alumni: artist Ellsworth Kelly and New York City Councilmember Brad Lander, who is also former head of the Pratt Center for Community Development.

On July 10, President Barack Obama presented Kelly with a National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government. Approximately 300 people have received the award since its inception in 1984.

Kelly, a Pratt student from 1941 to 1943, was honored for “his contributions as a painter, sculptor, and printmaker. A careful observer of form, color, and the natural world, Kelly has shaped more than half a century of abstraction and remains a vital influence in American art.” He was one of 12 recipients this past year.

Kelly’s Blue Green Yellow Orange Red, a painting with stark vertical color panels, was named a Pratt Top 125 Icon, part of the 125th anniversary celebration last year. 

Just weeks after Kelly’s award, the White House named councilmember Brad Lander (M.S. City & Regional Planning '98) a “Champion of Change,” a distinction given to Americans “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”

Brad LanderThe White House chose Lander as part of a group focused on “civic hacking and open government.” They highlighted his work as “one of the first councilmembers to bring ‘participatory budgeting’ to his district, giving residents the power to decide which projects to support with their tax dollars.”

In 2011, Lander and three other New York City Councilmembers established the participatory budget process, allowing residents to choose how to use capital discretionary funds. This year, local citizens opted to fix public school bathrooms, plant trees, extend sidewalks, and complete several other local projects.

Lander directed the Pratt Center for Community Development between 2003 and 2009, when he was elected to the New York City Council, representing Brooklyn’s 39th district, which includes the Columbia Waterfront, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, and Borough Park.

Text: Ruth Samuelson
Photos: NEA.gov and Joyce George


Famed Furniture Designer Charles Pollock Dies 

Charles Pollock (B.I.D. ’53)

Pratt mourns the loss of legendary furniture designer Charles Pollock (B.I.D. ’53) who died on August 20 in a fire at his studio in South Jamaica, Queens.

"Charles was a distinguished alumnus who made significant contributions to the field through his work, most notably the Pollock Executive Chair for Knoll," said Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte. "His dedication to pushing the frontiers of design has left an impact on all of us at Pratt Institute, and he will be deeply missed."

During his time at Pratt, Pollock studied under Industrial Design Professor Rowena Reed Kostellow. Upon graduation, he worked with designer George Nelson. He later presented a portfolio of designs to Knoll and in 1961, a chair, his 657 Lounge, was introduced. Two years later, he designed the Pollock Executive Chair for Knoll, which utilized “rim technology”— the use of a single aluminum band around the chair’s perimeter to hold the design together, structurally and visually. The chair has since been praised as the best-selling executive chair in the history of office design and was featured last year at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery’s Top 125 Icons show, part of the Pratt 125th anniversary celebration.  

Pollock also designed chairs for Thonet and Castelli and was the recipient of many awards including the Institute of Business Designers Bronze Medal and the Dutch Institution for Industrial Design Award. This past April, Pratt honored Pollock with the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award for his outstanding work in industrial design.

Pollock Executive ChairTo learn more about Pollock’s life and career, read the in-depth obituary published in The New York Times.

There was a memorial service for Pollock on September 9 at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan. Gifts in memory of Charles Pollock may be made to Pratt Institute, to support the Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund.  Please send contributions to: Pratt Institute, Institutional Advancement, 200 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205. Please include “In Memory of Charles Pollock” in the check’s memo line.

Text: Kate Ünver
Photos: Knoll, Inc.


Pratt Mourns Loss of Three Faculty Members

Nasser Sharify, Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor School of Information and Library Science, with Tula Giannini, Dean of the School of Information and Library ScienceThe Pratt community lost a number of beloved faculty members over the summer. The Institute mourns the loss of Nasser Sharify, Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor in the School of Library and Information Science; Richard Budelis (B.F.A. Illustration ’56) active associate professor of Sculpture; and John “Dick” R. Welch (B.I.D. ’52), a former professor of Industrial Design.

Sharify served as a dean and professor in Pratt’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science from 1968-1987. In 1987, Sharify became a Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus of Pratt’s School of Information and Library Science.

"In his almost 20 years at Pratt as dean and professor at SILS, Nasser strengthened and grew a school at the heart of Pratt’s original mission," said Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte. "SILS would not be the leader in library and information sciences it is today if it weren’t for Nasser, who was an academic of international renown.”

Over several decades, the Nasser Sharify Lecture Series, which honored Sharify's 40-years contribution to library and information science, brought renowned speakers and academicians to Pratt’s Brooklyn and Manhattan campuses.

“At SILS we mark the passing of Nasser with both sadness and appreciation for all that he accomplished at Pratt and for librarianship internationally,” said Tula Giannini, current dean of SILS. “He will be dearly missed by his colleagues and friends at Pratt.”

Sharify was honored with the American Library Association Award in 1999, the Kaula Gold Medal in 1985—which is given annually to only one international leader or scholar in the world—and The Shah's Crown Medal in 1977.

Sharify is survived by his ex-wife Homayoun Gloria Sharify, his sister Firouzeh Ameri, his children Sharareh Cherie Goldsmith and Shahab John Sharify, and four grandchildren. A memorial gathering will take place on Saturday, November 2, from 6–8 PM at the Pratt Manhattan Campus, Room 213, 144 West 14th Street.

Richard Budelis (B.F.A. Illustration ’56), Associate Professor of Sculpture

Professor Richard Budelis, who died on July 11, joined the Pratt community as a professor in September 1969. Along with John Pai (B.I.D. ’62, M.F.A. ’64), he was a founder of Pratt’s sculpture program and developed courses in sculpture using plastic materials.

Budelis is survived by his sisters Julia Budelis and Lillian Thiede, his daughter Natalie from his previous marriage to Maxine DeSeta, and Constance Williams Budelis, his wife of 43 years.

The Department of Fine Arts plans to hold a memorial service on September 20 from 1-2 PM at The Gallery, Juliana Curran Terian Design Center. In lieu of flowers, his family has requested that John “Dick” R. Welch (B.I.D. ’52), Professor of Industrial Designdonations be made to Pratt Institute, to support the Sculpture program in the Department of Fine Arts.

For more on Budelis’ work and legacy, please visit The New York Times.  

John “Dick” R. Welch (B.I.D. ’52), a former professor of Industrial Design, died on June 7. Following his studies at Pratt, Welch worked as a freelance designer and museum exhibition designer. He taught in the Industrial Design Department for more than 20 years before leaving Pratt in 1985. Welch is survived by his wife Gigi and brother William Joseph as well as several nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held on June 24 in Stonington, Maine.

Text: Kate Ünver