April 24, 2009
by Canadian Architect
Cheryl Misak, Vice-President and Provost of the University of Toronto, has announced the appointment of Professor Richard M. Sommer as Dean, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, effective July 1, 2009 and ending June 30, 2014.
Professor Sommer is an architect and urbanist. He is currently a member of the Architecture and Urban Design faculty at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. For the past six years, Professor Sommer has also served as Director of Harvard’s Urban Design Programs. He is a member of the School’s Academic Review Board, and the Student Affairs Committee. Professor Sommer received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and his Master of Architecture from Harvard University.
For the past four years, Professor Sommer has been a Visiting American Scholar and the O’Hare Chair in Design and Development at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. In this capacity, Sommer has been working with academics, government agencies, and designers in private industry to develop innovative design models with which to reform Northern Ireland’s cities and towns. This includes the creation of a complex, GIS-based three-dimensional city model and laboratory for urbanism in Belfast. He has held a number of other notable academic appointments, including serving as the Scholar-in-Residence at the California College of Arts in San Francisco from 1995 to 1998.
Professor Sommer’s design practice, research and scholarship have developed along two interrelated lines. The first line pertains to reconceiving architecture and urban design’s disciplinary basis, so as to better address the competing forces of liberalization in property markets, and the increasing expectations for democratic access in city-making processes. The second line of research frames the monument as the historical exemplar of architecture, tracing its transformation through its encounter with modern forms of democracy and the American landscape. He has co-authored a series of publications with Glenn Forley based the travelling exhibition The Democratic Monument in America, 1900-2000 that will be collected in a forthcoming volume. Sommer’s writings and projects have been published in Perspecta: The Yale Architecture Journal, ANY Magazine, Metropolis, The Journal of Architectural Education, Arcade, The Harvard Design Magazine, and the books Supernatural Urbanism: the L.A. River Studio; Shaping the City: Studies in History, Theory and Urban Design; Regenerating Older Suburbs; and Urban Design.
Support for Sommer’s research has included awards and grants from the US National Endowment for the Arts, the LEF Foundation, the Wheelwright Fellowship, the Tozier Fund and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.