When I became the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News, three years ago, the idea from the outset was to expand the idea of that position, to think not just about signature buildings and their designers, but to examine the entire physical environment of the city. I think this is the right way to approach this position, really the only viable way to approach it, but as I’ve worked to expand this definition of my role, I’ve bumped up on the limits of my own education. My academic background is in architectural history, the story of signature buildings and the men (usually) who built them. I would like to be a more effective advocate for the city, and toward that goal, I will be spending the next academic year on a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. This will give me to study public policy and urban planning, among other subjects, with the extraordinary community there. I’m hoping that when I return (and, don’t worry, I will return), I’ll be better able to offer solutions to the issues Dallas faces, not just point out the problems.
I should also note that it will be fun to spend a year on the stomping grounds of Philip Johnson, who spent a decade at Harvard as an undergrad and then graduate in the design school. Better still, my biography of Johnson should be complete (I hope) by the time the fellowship begins.