Pratt Institute Provost Donna Heiland has shared news that Harriet Harriss, dean of the Pratt School of Architecture (SoA), will transition out of that role—one she has held since 2019— to pursue independent research beginning this fall. Per an email sent to the Pratt community announcing the major departure, Harriss will join the SoA as faculty when her research concludes, remaining a part of the Pratt family. “This transition will allow her to focus on advancing her expertise in the intersection of climate justice pedagogy, practice and policy, in service to the School’s strategic agenda and strength in this area,” wrote Heiland in her letter.
Quilian Riano, who joined the SoA last year in the role of assistant dean, will serve as interim dean during the transition process. A search for a new dean of the Brooklyn-based school will commence in the coming academic year.
British-born Harriss has been a close friend and ally of The Architect’s Newspaper throughout her tenure at Pratt and was a fierce advocate of the New Voices in Architectural Journalism fellowship program, a joint initiative launched in early 2021 by AN and the SoA. (A second round of contributions from the inaugural New Voices fellows will be published in the forthcoming July/August issue of The Architect’s Newspaper).
Prior to joining Pratt in 2019, Harriss led the Post-Graduate Research Program in Architecture and Interior Design at the Royal College of Art in London; before that, she helmed the Masters in Applied Design in Architecture program at Oxford Brookes (formerly Oxford Polytechnic). She replaced longtime SoA dean Thomas Hanrahan following his 22-year tenure.
Harriss’s deanship at the SOA was one marked by the sweeping societal upheaval brought on by political unrest and a global pandemic along with a historic social justice movement spurred by shocking acts of violence perpetrated against Black Americans. Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, Harriss’s accomplishments as dean were myriad. They include: the foundation of the school’s first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, the establishment of a graduate incubator, the launch of a master’s degree in landscape architecture, and the creation of the new, two-person role of student advisor to the dean. In 2021, the SoA became the first American school of architecture to hold international accreditations from both NAAB and RIBA. Additionally, Harriss also increased the number of annual student prizes as a means of bettering showcase the talents of the SoA community.
“Seeking to advance faculty, she has helped faculty to establish and/or nurture partnerships with museums, cultural organizations, practices and community groups, and started a faculty fellowship program,” wrote Heiland of her colleague. “She has advanced both the work and the profile of the School as a whole, hosting international conferences as well as a number of symposia, recruiting highly esteemed visiting fellows, and raising the School’s international visibility through its online presence as well as its widely circulated newsletter.”
AN applauds Harriss for her transformative tenure at Pratt and wishes her the best on her upcoming ventures.