Georgia Tech’s architecture college honors past as it picks new dean

By Maria Saporta

As Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture prepares to enter a new era, it is taking time to remember its past.

Any day now, the College of Architecture will be naming its new dean from three finalists — two outside candidates and one internal one.

Although Georgia Tech has had an architectural program for more than 100 years, the College has only been in existence since 1976 and has only had three deans during that tenure — William Fash (1976 to 1992), Thomas Galloway (1992 to 2007) and Alan Balfour (2008 to present). Douglas Allen served as an interim dean from 2007 to 2008 following Galloway’s sudden death.

The three finalists for the deanship are: Dr. Gail Dubrow, a professor of architecture, landscape architecture, public affairs and planning and history at the University of Minnesota; Dr. Daniel Friedman, professor of architecture and former dean of the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington; and Dr. Steven French, professor of the School of City and Regional Planning and associate dean for research at the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech.

The search is being chaired by Terry Blum, director of the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship and professor in Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business. Blum also is a former dean of the business school.

So as there’s a significant transition in leadership underway at the College of Architecture, it was a good time to celebrate its history.

On April 11, the College of Architecture opened a retrospective exhibit of the work of its students who attended the architecture school from 1952 to 2012. The disparity in styles and scope of work over those 60 years was breath-taking — especially when many of the architects were present to walk among the panels displaying representations of their work. More than 200 alumni submitted more than 1,100 images (225 on panels and the rest as part of video presentation) that are on view in the Stubbins Gallery in the College Architecture on the Georgia Tech campus.

Another exhibit that also opened on April 11 focuses on the advancement of women within the College of Architecture. The exhibit, which was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, showcases distinguished women alumnae. It begins with a piece of history dating back to the 1930s of when Georgia was the only state in the nation that made it illegal for women to attend its engineering school — Georgia Tech.

As the years went by, women were first admitted to Georgia Tech in 1952. And gradually women students began to receive architectural degrees — representing 1 percent of the student body in the early 1960s. Today, for the first time in its history in the school’s history, more than half of the students in the College of Architecture (51 percent) are women.

The College of Architecture also celebrated a few milestones in 2012. It was the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Architecture building, which was designed by the firm of Harold Bush-Brown, J. Herbert “Doc” Gailey and P.M. Heffernan, the first modern architectural school building in the nation.

Bush-Brown was director of the Department of Architecture until 1956, when Heffernan became director of what was then the School of Architecture — a position he held until 1976.

The year 2012 also was the 60th anniversary of the formal initiation of the program of study in Industrial Design. And it was the formal initiation of the program of study in City Planning.

On a personal note, my father, Isaac E. Saporta, was an associate professor of architecture at Georgia Tech from 1948 to 1978. It was Bush-Brown who hired Papa, bringing him and my mother to Atlanta after World War II. Once here, Papa became involved in the formation of the City Planning program, believing Atlanta was in dire need of better regional planning.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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