Press Room

Penn Urban Design Scholar Matt Miller Appointed to Philadelphia Art Commission

31-year-old “Dr. Matt” Joins Artist Pepón Osorio in Returning Commission to Full Capacity

Today, Matthew Jordan Miller, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow, lecturer, and the director of Justice and Belonging Initiatives (JxB) at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, joined the nine-member Philadelphia Art Commission, filling a vacancy for art and architecture faculty alongside teaching artist Pepón Osorio of Temple University. 

The Philadelphia Art Commission consists of eight Mayor-appointed members and the Commissioner of Public Property. The entity is responsible for approving and reviewing the design and location of construction projects and public art on City property, including streets, or funded with City money and operates as a division of the Department of Planning and Development.

Known to students, colleagues, and friends as “Dr. Matt,” the 31-year-old “Emerging Scholar” joined the Weitzman faculty in 2018 in the Department of City and Regional Planning, where he has taught and published research about visual art, public space, and urban design in Black communities while exhibiting his photography. This fall, Dr. Matt was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Architecture to teach architectural history and theory, following his appointment in July as the Weitzman School’s first Director of Justice and Belonging (JxB) Initiatives. 

His academic work has been honored by the National Academies of Science, the Ford Foundation, and the Association for Collegiate Schools of Planning. His is the author of the forthcoming book Black Urbanism: Palms Growing in Concrete (Penn Press 2022) as well as chapters in forthcoming volumes from MIT Press and Duke University Press.

“I am honored to have been invited to serve my adopted City and to channel what I have learned all over the country and from the classroom into the public realm to keep Philly beautiful for all who love it,” Dr. Matt said. A resident of North Philadelphia, Dr. Matt is a first-generation college graduate from California who earned his BA from Stanford University and Master in City Planning degree from MIT. He came to Penn as the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Development from the University of Southern California (USC). He brings a wealth of experiences from the local level practicing community engagement with the Delaware River Waterfront in his Penn's Landing Oral History Project to serving federal agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts as a Panelist.

The Art Commission works with the Department of Planning and Development to ensure that any public-funded development in Philadelphia is “beautiful, orderly, and appropriate so that the City is a desirable place to live, visit, and do business.”

While formally appointed by the Mayor’s office on Friday, August 27, Dr. Matt began his term as a Commissioner being sworn by an attorney at 9:30am EST on September 1 via Zoom. The Commission reviewed ongoing and new projects such as the City’s plans for the Cobbs Creek Golf Course, various Recreation Centers under the Rebuild initiative, and public art for Maplewood Mall. 


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