Brian McGrath Named Dean of the School of Constructed Environments

Lucille Tenazas, Janet Kraynak, Shari Diamond, Julia Gorton, Katherine Moriwaki, Matt Robb and Yvonne Watson Among Other New Leadership Appointments

NEW YORK, Thursday, July 25, 2013—Parsons The New School for Design has announced several new appointments in conjunction with the new academic year. Brian McGrath, an architect whose work brings together an expertise in urban design, ecology and new media, will serve as the dean of the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, the first integrated school of architecture, interior design, lighting design and product design in the United States. McGrath will be assuming the position from David Lewis, who served as interim dean and is now returning to faculty.

Other appointments include Lucille Tenazas, Janet Kraynak, Matt Robb and Yvonne Watson in the newly created role of associate deans, respectively, for the Schools of Art, Media and Technology; Art and Design History and Theory; Design Strategies; and Fashion. Additionally, Katherine Moriwaki, Shari Diamond, Reina Arakji and Julia Gorton were appointed directors, respectively, for the MFA in Design and Technology, the BFA in Photography, the BBA in Strategic Design and Management, and the AAS in Graphic Design.

“Brian brings deep experience and vision to the position of Dean. He has taught at Parsons for over twenty years, and has held multiple leadership roles both across Parsons and The New School, most recently as Research Chair in Urban Design. His efforts have succeeded in elevating the rigor and prominence of our urban programs at Parsons, and facilitated deeper connections between design, public engagement and the social sciences,” said Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons. “The new appointments of Associate Deans across the five schools at Parsons reflects one of my key goals—to build and refine our academic structure in order to better support our programs, faculty and students. This is especially important now, as we launch new undergraduate curricula that provide more freedom and flexibility for our students in shaping their path of study.”

For more than a century, Parsons has structured its curriculum to respond to and anticipate the challenges and opportunities of a world in transformation. The last decade has seen especially significant changes in design education and the central role design, creativity, and innovation play in society.  During this time, Parsons has been actively “re-designing the design school” through a collaborative faculty, student, and school leadership effort intended to reconceived the school’s multiple curricula and give students the ability to explore a more hybridized, interdisciplinary approach to design. This includes new graduate programs in Transdisciplinary Design, Design and Urban Ecologies, Fashion Design and Society, and others, as well as the new undergraduate curriculum launching this fall.

Brian McGrath, Dean of the School of Constructed Environments, is the founder and principal of Urban-Interface, LLC, an urban design consultancy fusing expertise in architecture, ecology and media. An accomplished scholar and prolific author, his publications include: Urban Design Ecologies Reader, Digital Modeling for Urban Design and Transparent Cities, Sensing the 21st Century City (co-edited by Grahame Shane), and Cinemetrics: Architectural Drawing Today (with Jean Gardner). He is a principal researcher in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, and Research Director in the joint US-EU Transatlantic exchange program Urbanisms of Inclusion. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University and his Master of Architecture from Princeton University. He also serves as associate professor of Urban Design at Parsons.

“The School of Constructed Environments has a key role to play with respect to contributing research and practical applications of design to address the key issues of our time: rapid urbanization, globalization, social justice and climate change,” said McGrath. “We have taken an active role in recent post-Sandy discussions, and plan on expanding these efforts so that we can make a important contribution to future dialogues and debates on these topics.”

Lucille Tenazas, Associate Dean of the School of Art, Media and Technology, is the Henry Wolf Professor at Parsons and principal of Tenazas Design. She recently was awarded the AIGA Gold Medal, and previously honored with a National Design Award for Communication Design from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Janet Kraynak, Associate Dean of the School of Art and Design History and Theory has a Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Art from M.I.T., with a focus on Post-War and Contemporary European and American Art. She is the author of Please Pay Attention Please: Bruce Nauman’s Words (MIT Press, 2003).

Matt Robb, Associate Dean of the School of Design Strategies, was formerly the director of the BBA in Strategic Design and Management at Parsons. His teaching and research focuses on psychological, sociopolitical, and environmental implications of design and the built environment.

Yvonne Watson, Associate Dean of the School of Fashion, was formerly the academic director of the School of Fashion. Her academic interests relate to Art and Design pedagogy, theory and practice, and the role of reflective practice in design development.

Katherine Moriwaki, Director of the MFA in Design and Technology, is a designer and educator whose focus is on interaction design and artistic practice. Her research activities examine the intersection between fashion, technology and creative practice.

Shari Diamond, Director of the BFA in Photography, is a photographic artist interested in the narrative, symbolic and poetic possibilities of imagery. She received a 2012 Photography Fellowship from Constance Saltonstall Foundation of the Arts, and is a past recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography.

Reina Arakji, Director of the BBA in Strategic Design and Management, is an innovation strategist who has taught courses and published in leading peer-reviewed journals. She is also the Managing Partner of ANKA, an innovation strategy consulting firm.

Julie Gorton, Director of the AAS in Graphic Design, is a designer-illustrator who works primarily in the field of children's books. She graduated with honors from Parsons in 1980 and has taught Graphic Design at Parsons for over twenty years.

Parsons The New School for Design is one of the leading institutions for art and design education in the world. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of disciplines. To stimulate cross-disciplinary collaboration and learning, Parsons is structured into five schools: the School of Art and Design History and Theory; the School of Art, Media and Technology; the School of Constructed Environments; the School of Design Strategies; and the School of Fashion. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century. For more information, please visit

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