Harvard Graduate School of Design to create visiting professorship in Honor of John Portman

Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) announced this week that it will name a distinguished visiting professorship in architecture in honor of John Portman, Founder and Chairman of John Portman & Associates.

The John Portman Visiting Chair in Architecture will create a special opportunity for the GSD to bring internationally recognized designers to their campus in a sustained role. This position provides an important chance for esteemed practitioners to engage in the life of Harvard for an extended period of time, ranging from one to three years. The Portman Chair creates a complement to traditional faculty structures, offering a flexible appointment for a leading practitioner and programmatic support to ensure the chair holder’s maximum impact while in residence. In addition to providing for the role itself, the Portman Chair will include research assistance, the curation and organization of exhibitions, and production of related publications.

“John Portman is one of the most innovative designers of his generation,” said Harvard GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. “I am delighted that the GSD will honor his bold vision. His holistic and comprehensive approach to creating urban environments has allowed us to rethink how we activate and revitalize our cities. The Portman Chair will bring leading architects to our campus with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds to share with our students. It is my intention that the holders of the Portman Chair will, in turn, benefit and inspire generations of designers to think expansively about how they will contribute to the transformation of our societies, just as Mr. Portman has throughout his career.”

The creation of this chair is inspired by Mr. Portman’s career, which has spanned nearly fifty years and produced projects in more than sixty cities throughout the world. During that time he expanded his role beyond architect into that of entrepreneur and real estate developer. Notable projects include Peachtree Center in Atlanta, Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, Shanghai Centre and Tomorrow Square in Shanghai, and Yintai Centre in Beijing. He is also a prolific painter and sculptor, with works exhibited internationally. Many members of his immediate family have attended various schools at Harvard, including his son Jack Portman, GSD M.Arch ’73, the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for John Portman & Associates.

“Educating future generations of designers who will shape our world is one of the most important contributions I can make to my field,” said Mr. Portman. “This professorship will provide opportunities for students to hear from and work with a dynamic cohort of leading practitioners who will inspire them to think in new ways about how to improve the world around them. Under Dean Mostafavi’s leadership, the GSD provides a vibrant environment in which this type of exchange can take place, and I am delighted to be able to have my name associated with this exciting work.”