Monica Ponce de Leon Appointed New Dean

In review and discussion with the Board of Regents Personnel, Compensation and Governance Committee, and pending Regents’ approval, President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Teresa A. Sullivan are pleased to announce the appointment of Monica Ponce de Leon as the next Dean of the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, effective September 1, 2008.

Monica Ponce de Leon is Professor of Architecture and the Director of the Digital Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is also a Principal in Office dA, an internationally known design practice that she launched with Nader Tehrani in Boston in 1991. The firm’s synthesis of research and design has led to a remarkable body of work that has been widely published and exhibited and has won numerous honors. Professor Ponce de Leon’s work addresses the critical importance of digital production to the future of the profession and the re-establishment of the architect’s role in the construction industry. Through her strong commitment to teaching and her successful practice she has proven her ability to link the profession and the academy.

Professor Ponce de Leon received a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1989 from the University of Miami and the Master of Architecture in Urban Design degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1991.

She joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design faculty in 1996, following appointments on the faculties of University of Miami, Northeastern University, and Georgia Institute of Technology. She has held visiting professorships at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Rhode Island School of Design. She has received honors from the Architectural League of New York (Emerging Voices, 2003, and Young Architects Award, 1997) and the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Award in Architecture, 2002). Her practice has received over 30 design awards, among which are the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award (2007), the AIA/LA Design Award (Helios House, 2007), the I.D. Magazine Award: Environment (2007) and the AIA/ALA Library Building Award (2007) for the Fleet Library at the Rhode Island School of Design, and ten Progressive Architecture Awards. Most recently Office dA was awarded the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment?s (COTE) Top Ten Green Projects for 2008 for the Macallen Building in Boston.

Among her authored works are numerous articles in U.S. and international publications on topics ranging from Latin American architecture to eco-tourism to public infrastructure for the tropics.

She has given more than 60 invited lectures and symposia and conference presentations. Between 1991 and 2007, her work has been referenced in over 200 publications world-wide about design. She has curated exhibitions, the most recent in 2005 on “The City of Aleppo: The Veronica Ridge Green Prize in Urban Design,” and she has had numerous solo exhibitions in New York, Providence RI, Atlanta, Princeton NJ, Cambridge MA, and elsewhere. She has received grants for research on design, including implications of digital fabrication in relationship to conventional construction practices in the U.S. and invention of new construction systems for unique conditions of the Galapagos Islands, and for archival research in Latin American architecture and landscape architecture.

The portfolio of Monica Ponce de Leon’s firm, Office dA, includes institutional, residential, commercial, housing, governmental, industrial design and urban design projects all over the world. Among the more recent are the Fleet Library at Rhode Island School of Design, the Tongxian Arts Center in Beijing, Helios House/Rebranding of a Gas Station in Los Angeles, an Intergenerational Housing Center for the City of Chicago, a dynamic low-cost housing for the Elemental program in Chile, the first LEED certified large residential project in Boston and a border station between the U.S. and Canada.

President Coleman and Provost Sullivan are extremely pleased that Professor Ponce de Leon is assuming the leadership of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Because she is recognized as a leader in the field of design, she will infuse the College with energy and currency in architecture and urban planning. We are confident of her ability to articulate a vision for Taubman College that will position it as a leader in architecture and design education and practice on such important issues as sustainability, digital technologies, diversity and social consciousness. We expect that she will forge relationships with other schools and colleges, and will serve as an ambassador to our alumni and other constituents. The appointment of Monica Ponce de Leon will be a significant milestone in the positioning of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan in the academic and professional world.