PennDesign’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony, Irvine Auditorium
Class of 2018 Takes Home 295 Graduate Degrees
“Today you join the ranks of world leaders in architecture, planning, fine arts, historic preservation, landscape architecture, and urban spatial analytics,” said PennDesign Dean Fritz Steiner on Sunday, addressing nearly 300 students preparing to embark on a dizzying variety of post-graduate endeavors. “As PennDesign alumni, you assume new responsibility, and unsurpassed opportunity, to shape our future. So I challenge you to remain inventive and creative. Hold on to the curiosity and passion that brought you here. Ask questions, wait, and listen.”
In all, 295 graduate degrees were awarded to 285 graduating students. The degrees included 89 Master of Architecture, 54 Master of City Planning, 8 Master of Environmental Building Design, 13 Master of Fine Arts, 37 Master of Landscape Architecture, 2 Master of Science in Architecture, 43 Master of Science in Design with an Advanced Architectural Design concentration, 19 Master of Science in Historic Preservation, 14 Master of Urban Spatial Analytics, 3 Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture, and 3 Doctor of Philosophy in City Planning. 54 students earned certificates, and ten earned dual degrees.
The commencement speech was delivered by David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College. Orr, who earned a PhD in International Relations/Political Science from Penn in 1973, previously headed the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past thirty years.”
In addition, on Saturday, the School awarded more than 80 prizes to students and faculty during its 2018 Awards Ceremony. Distinguished teaching awards were given to Eric D. Bellin, a PhD candidate in Architecture, Ben Krone, a lecturer in Architecture, and Sharon Hayes, Associate Professor of Fine Arts.
Billie Faircloth, an architect, former PennDesign faculty member, and partner at Kieran Timberlake, gave the keynote address for the awards ceremony. Faircloth’s remarks were built around a question she says she hears most often from students and lecture audiences: How do I begin? She encouraged students to rethink the rituals of design practice, and to reimagine their own agency as designers to work across disciplines.
“Don’t wait to design your practice,” Faircloth told the students. “Start now to design what you imagine your practice will be. How do I begin—or rather, what is my agency to change design practice?—it’s a tough question. And while I’m not certain I’ve given you the answer you deserve, I am certain you and I have some things to work on. I’m also certain that design agency imparts the superpower of transformation, and there is much—socially, environmentally, energetically, and culturally—that needs to be transformed. I’m also certain that you have been given imagination, intellect, and will. Be thoughtful, be patient, and always be a student.”
Mark Alan Hughes (second from left), founding faculty director of Penn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, engaged in conversation with Maryke van Staden, manager of the Low Carbon Cities Program, Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, mayor of Bonn, Germany, and Mauricio Rodas, former mayor of Quito, Ecuador. At COP 25, Penn also launched the City Climate-Resilient Infrastructure Financing Initiative (C2IFI), an effort to help connect cities to new financing mechanisms. (Photo Jocelyn Perry)