Aaron Betsky, the curator and critic who is leaving his position as president of the School of Architecture at Taliesin (SoAT) when the spring semester concludes in May, has been appointed as the director of the School of Architecture + Design within Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies. He begins on June 20.
Betsky’s predecessor, Hunter Pittman, will transition into the role of associate professor within the school, which is one of four that comprise the Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies alongside the School of Visual Arts, the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, and the School of International and Public Affairs.
“Aaron is a proven leader with demonstrated dedication to cross-disciplinary exploration, academic excellence, and educational innovation,” said Richard Blythe, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, in a statement released by Virginia Tech. “His international standing and connections in architecture and design are considerable and will undoubtedly help the college expand its global reach, activities, and influence.”
Betsky was tapped by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in January 2015 to serve as dean at SoAT, and successfully lead the school, formerly known as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, through a turbulent period of pedagogical and financial uncertainty. From 2017 onwards, he served as president of SoAT which, for now, will remain open following a recent reversal of the board’s January 25 vote to permanently shutter it.
Before taking on leadership roles at SoAT, Betsky served at the long-running director of the Cincinnati Art Museum (2006-2014), director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam (2001-2006), and curator of architecture, design, and digital projects at the San Francisco Museum of Art (1995-2001). In 2008, he served as artistic director of the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale.
Betsky, also a prolific lecturer and author who has never shied from sometimes-controversial opinion, has also held teaching positions at the University of Cincinnati, the Taubman School of Architecture and Design at the University of Michigan, Southern California Institute of Architecture, and others. His books include Queer Space (1997), Architecture Must Burn (2000), Landscrapers: Building with the Land (2002), and Architecture Matters (2017) alongside a number of monographs on architects including Zaha Hadid, MVRDV, and I.M. Pei. A regular contributor to Dezeen and a blogger for Architect Magazine, Betsky has also written on art and architecture for a wide range of publications including Architectural Record, Architectural Digest, ArtForum, AN, and the New York Times.
“I’m very excited about the opportunities offered by Virginia Tech,” said Betsky in a statement. “The School of Architecture + Design in particular has a stellar history of experimentation and leveraging its position within a land-grant institution to serve its many communities—particularly in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but also beyond. I look forward to furthering the school’s commitment to using technology as a tool to build better cities and steward the landscapes we inhabit in ways that are not only beautiful, but also deeply sustainable for our planet into the future.”