UC Berkeley names new dean to College of Environmental Design

June 27, 2019

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos issued the following message :

We are very pleased to announce that Vishaan Chakrabarti, celebrated architect and associate professor of professional practice at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), has accepted our offer to become the next dean of the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design (CED).

A graduate of CED’s architecture program and member of the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, Professor Chakrabarti is well known to many in the Berkeley design community. He has dedicated his long career as an architect and urban planner to social impact through the improvement of cities’ public spaces, most recently as the founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, the studio he established in 2015 and will continue to lead as dean. Professor Chakrabarti has directed projects as varied as a multi-billion dollar public-private partnership to redevelop New York’s Pennsylvania Station, the adaptive reuse of the landmark Domino Sugar Refinery and park in Brooklyn, and the design of a mixed-use village and bazaar in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Outside of private practice, he served as director of the Manhattan office of New York’s Department of City Planning from 2002 to 2005, overseeing planning and development for the borough during the critical period of rebuilding that followed the September 11th terrorist attacks. In his time there, he also helped lay the groundwork for the city’s acclaimed High Line park and a major expansion of Columbia University.

Vishaan Chakrabarti spoke about his vision for “magnetic, lyrical” cities in this 2018 TED Talk.

How we can design timeless cities for our collective future | Vishaan Chakrabarti

In his academic life, Professor Chakrabarti has served as a professor at Columbia GSAPP since 2009. There, he spearheaded a major revision of the school’s Master of Science in Real Estate Development program, reshaping its curriculum and imbuing it with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration between the architecture, urban design, planning, and preservation programs. In 2011, he also established and then led Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate, a research hub that investigates the challenges and opportunities that arise from rapid urbanization. While at Columbia, he published his much-lauded book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America.

Aside from his master’s of architecture from CED, Professor Chakrabarti holds a master’s in city planning from MIT and dual bachelor’s degrees in art history and engineering from Cornell. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Chakrabarti has remained a zealous advocate for our College of Environmental Design, and he impressed the CED dean search committee with his enduring support for the college coupled with his credentials as a practitioner and scholar, his ambitious vision for CED, and his own personal commitment to the college’s twin pillars of social impact and design excellence. We are certain that he will continue to elevate CED’s stature as an influential, top-tier institution celebrated for producing creative and skilled professionals who craft sustainable, resilient, fair, practical, and beautiful built environments.

In closing, we would like to thank the search committee for their wonderful choice of dean for CED. We would also like to express our gratitude to outgoing dean Jennifer Wolch, who has led the college since 2009 and has elevated its stature and expanded its offerings significantly over the past decade, and to Renee Chow for filling this vital leadership role next year. We hope you will join us in thanking these members of our campus for their service and in wishing Professor Chakrabarti a warm welcome back to Berkeley.


Carol Christ

A. Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost