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New York Architect Karen Van Lengen Is Named Dean Of U.Va. Architecture School

April 19, 1999 -- Karen Van Lengen, an award-winning architect who is currently chair of the architecture department at the Parsons School of Design in New York, has been named dean of the University of Virginia's School of Architecture, effective July 1, U.Va. President John T. Casteen III announced.

Van Lengen succeeds William A. McDonough, who is stepping down after serving a five-year term as dean at U.Va., ranked among the country's leading architecture schools.

An associate with internationally renowned architect I.M. Pei before establishing her own practice in New York in 1986, Van Lengen has won numerous awards for her design work throughout the world and has written, taught and lectured widely about architecture and design. She has chaired the architecture department at Parsons in New York since 1995.

"Karen Van Lengen's innovative work and many accomplishments both as an educator and architect make her an ideal choice to head our School of Architecture," Casteen said. "In addition to her international reputation as a designer, she has been a leader in integrating technology into the design process. And like Bill McDonough, she is a strong advocate for the importance of artful design in creating socially and ecologically sensitive environments."

McDonough, internationally respected for his environmentally conscious design, announced last year that he would step down as dean at the end of his term to devote more time to teaching, to his family, and the school's Institute for Sustainable Design, which he founded.

Van Lengen's many highly praised architectural projects include the Rye Nature Center, to be built in Rye, N.Y.; the American Memorial Library in Berlin, which won first prize in an international competition in 1988-89 at the end of the cold war; the Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing, which won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 1984 during the period she worked with Pei; and numerous private residences here and abroad. She has been honored in many other competitions, including being a finalist in the 2000 Olympics competition in Berlin, and with awards including a Fulbright Fellowship in architecture in Rome. She has served on numerous AIA design juries.

"In everything she has done, Karen Van Lengen has shown an ability to make things happen, encouraging the unusual combination of productive collaboration and rigorous design," said William Sherman, associate professor of architecture and chair of the committee that conducted a national search to fill the dean's position. "She has been catalytic in her academic leadership, crafting and implementing curricular initiatives at Parsons such as a student design program that built projects for communities in New York City and renovated the school's own facilities. We expect that this ability to work creatively alongside the faculty and students will allow U.Va.'s already significant strengths to be developed and recognized more broadly in the University and beyond.

"She has a deep commitment to the relationship between the arts and architecture, has built international ties through her work in both Berlin and China, has developed programs for student and faculty involvement in community construction projects and directs a program that is emerging as a leader in the application of digital technologies to both the design process and the representation of information. In her professional commitments, and as a juror on a number of local and international competitions, she has been supporting and developing a strong voice for the profession of architecture in the challenges of urban development in places as diverse as New York, Berlin and the Cayman Islands."

Van Lengen's art and architectural drawings have been exhibited in many shows both here and abroad. In addition to Parsons, which is a division of the New School for Social Research, she has taught at several institutions including City College of New York, Columbia University, Cornell University, Notre Dame University, Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Texas. She has lectured at universities around the United States and abroad.

She received her master's of architecture from Columbia University in 1976 and a B.A. from Vassar College in 1973.

"I am deeply honored to have been selected to lead this distinguished school of architecture with such dedicated and renowned faculty," Van Lengen said. "I hope to build on the initiatives of Dean McDonough, who has raised very important environmental issues. I support these themes and hope to broaden this view by emphasizing the ecology not only of materials but an ecology of social and cultural relationships, expressed in the formal language of planning, architecture and landscape architecture and understood within the context of our cultural history."

Ranked among the country's foremost architecture centers, the U.Va. School of Architecture includes separate but closely interrelated departments of architecture, landscape architecture, architectural history, and urban and environmental planning, as well as nationally recognized programs in preservation, urbanism and environmental mediation. The school draws deeply on the legacy of University founder Thomas Jefferson, whose design of the original buildings is considered one of the most significant achievements in American architecture.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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