Practice for Architecture and Urbanism Founder Vishaan Chakrabarti Named Dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design

Chakrabarti to Assume Deanship at Alma Mater Starting Summer 2020, to Continue Leadership of PAU with Opening of West Coast Office and Growth of New York Office

NEW YORK, NY (June 27, 2019) – Today, the University of California, Berkeley named Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), as the next dean of its College of Environmental Design (CED). A 1996 graduate of CED’s architecture program and member of the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, Mr. Chakrabarti has dedicated his long career as an architect and urban planner to social impact through the improvement of cities’ public spaces, most recently as the founder of PAU, the studio he established in 2015 and will continue to lead as dean. He will begin his term July 1, 2020. 

“Much as law schools were essential to the civil and equal rights movements fifty years ago, the College of Environmental Design is poised to confront the three existential challenges of our era — climate change, social inequity and technological dislocation — by advancing design and research excellence in the nation’s premier public educational institution. As conceived by William Wurster and Catherine Bauer, CED has a renowned interdisciplinary legacy grounded in equitable urban ecologies and trailblazing humanist architecture that illuminates our path forward. I am deeply humbled and beyond ecstatic to be returning to my alma mater as its next dean, and am equally thrilled to share that PAU will expand its presence to the west coast to help address its urban challenges in a manner that is fully mission consistent with CED.” said Mr. Chakrabarti. 

“Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Chakrabarti has remained a zealous advocate for our College of Environmental Design, and he impressed the CED dean search committee with his enduring support for the college coupled with his credentials as a practitioner and scholar, his ambitious vision for CED, and his own personal commitment to the college’s twin pillars of social impact and design excellence,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. “We are certain that he will continue to elevate CED’s stature as an influential, top-tier institution celebrated for producing creative and skilled professionals who craft sustainable, resilient, fair, practical and beautiful built environments.” 

Currently an associate professor of professional practice at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), Mr. Chakrabarti has directed projects as varied as a multi-billion dollar public-private partnership to redevelop New York’s Pennsylvania Station, the adaptive reuse of the landmark Domino Sugar Refinery and Park in Brooklyn and the design of a mixed-use village and bazaar in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Outside of private practice, he served as director of the Manhattan office of New York City’s Department of City Planning from 2002 to 2005 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, overseeing planning and development for the borough during the critical period of rebuilding that followed the September 11th terrorist attacks.

In his time there, he also helped lay the groundwork for the city’s acclaimed High Line park and a major expansion of Columbia University. In his academic life, Mr. Chakrabarti has served as a professor at Columbia GSAPP since 2009. There, he spearheaded a major revision of the school’s Master of Science in Real Estate Development program, reshaping its curriculum and imbuing it with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration between the architecture, urban design, planning and preservation programs. In 2011, he also established and then led Columbia’s Center for Urban Real Estate, a research hub that investigates the challenges and opportunities that arise from rapid urbanization. While at Columbia, Mr. Chakrabarti authored the highly-acclaimed book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America, which argues that a more urban United States would result in a more prosperous, sustainable, joyous and socially mobile nation.  

In addition to his Master of Architecture degree from UC Berkeley, he holds a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and dual bachelor’s degrees in art history and engineering from Cornell University. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and was recently named a 2019 Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.  

Starting in summer 2020, Chakrabarti will open PAU’s first west coast office while Studio Director and Associate Partner Ruchika Modi will lead the continued growth of the New York office. Established in 2015, PAU has expanded from 3 to over 25 employees in just four years with dozens of active projects around the world.  

Mr. Chakrabarti succeeds Jennifer Wolch, who, after 10 years at CED, stepped down from her post as dean of the College of Environmental Design at the end of the spring 2019 term. The first woman to serve as dean of CED, Jennifer assumed leadership during a time of intense economic challenge, as well as social discontent symbolized by the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements. Guided by the bedrock values of the college, she has since spearheaded strategies and initiatives that have enhanced CED’s stature as one of the leading design and planning schools in the country. Under her tenure, CED became the number one ranked architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning program in the world, all within the context of being a public school with extraordinary numbers of first generation students, Pell Grant recipients, and other diversity indicators. Professor Renee Chow, chair of Berkeley’s architecture department, will serve as acting dean beginning July 1, 2019.

About UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design

The UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design (CED) stands among the nation’s top environmental design schools. It is one of the world’s most distinguished laboratories for experimentation, research, and intellectual synergy. Founded in 1959, through the leadership of William Wurster it was the first school to combine the disciplines of architecture, planning, and landscape architecture into a single college, leading the way toward an integrated approach to analyzing, understanding, and designing our built environment.  CED’s programs are consistently ranked among the top ten in the nation and its distinguished alumni represent a major force in communities, cities and regions in the U.S. and internationally.Visit CED at  

About Practice for Architecture and Urbanism

PAU is a multi-disciplinary design and planning firm leading some of the most complex projects in the country and, increasingly, around the world. The studio designs lasting architecture and humanist urbanism to advance the city of the future, to advance the values of liberté, égalité, et humanité that undergird metropolitan life. PAU takes on this mission informed by decades of proven experience, guided by the ideal that by reinventing cities, it can help shepherd the world to betterment, self-reflection, and public delight. Visit PAU at 

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News