Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) has named Grace La as Chair of the Department of Architecture. La will take over the position from Mark Lee, a professor at the university and founding partner of the architecture firm Johnston Marklee, who was appointed Chair in 2018. La, who is a double Harvard graduate, receiving both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the educational institution, has taught at the school since 2013, and became the first Korean American to be tenured at the GSD.
In addition to her work at GSD as the inaugural Chair of the Practice Platform (2014–2022) and Director of the GSD’s Master of Architecture degree programs (2014–17), La is a principal at LA DALLMAN, a practice concentrating on architecture, engineering, and site design projects that she founded alongside James Dallman in 1999. Both La and Dallman were appointed Faculty Directors in Harvard’s Graduate Commons Program in 2022. In addition to her teaching and leadership roles at Harvard, La hosts a podcast produced by the GSD that looks at how “practitioners articulate design imagination through practice.”
“I am very excited about Grace’s appointment,” said Harvard GSD Dean Sarah M. Whiting in a press release. “Her commitment to the core curriculum and focus on practice as a fundamental pillar of architectural education are at once timely and timeless for the School’s pedagogy. And as we welcome Grace into her new role, I am also deeply grateful to Mark Lee for his steady leadership of the department these past five years.”
Among the firm’s completed projects are a student center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, several residences, and infrastructure works such as bridge restorations. La and Dallman have participated in over 60 lectures and presentations showcasing their work, including at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the National Building Museum in Washington DC, and the New Museum in New York City, as well as highlighted in numerous exhibitions, including at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Danish Architecture Center. To celebrate their 25th anniversary of practice, LA DALLMAN is working on a monograph, The Middle Front.
Prior to her latest appointment La has taken part in a number of conferences and other educational roles. In 2019 she co-chaired the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s national conference and co-curated the accompanying exhibition, Drawing for the Design Imaginary, at Carnegie Mellon University.
Before taking on teaching positions and leadership roles at Harvard, La was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Syracuse University.
“I am honored by the GSD’s trust and look forward to collaboration on the next chapter of this esteemed department,” La added. “As a highly negotiated art form, architecture remains at the vital intersection of culture and space. The discipline is also experiencing transformations in pedagogy, with opportunities to advance environmental expertise, social engagement, and artistry. I am thrilled to work on this shared project and on the continued mission to harness the immense intellect, imagination, and energy of the GSD’s creative community.”
La will assume her new role on July 1.