After a nearly two-year search, the Cooper Union has selected Nader Tehrani as the new Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, effective immediately. Following Dean Anthony Vidler’s resignation in 2013, Elizabeth O’Donnell took over as acting dean while the search committee scoured the globe for a permanent replacement. Tehrani looks to be a prime choice, with a very impressive set of exhibitions, lectures and awards that has already been extensively detailed elsewhere. He is also the founding principal of both Office dA (along with Roldolphe El Khoury,) and NADAAA, and previously served as an architecture professor and the head of MIT’s Department of Architecture.
↑ Model Home Gallery in Seoul, South Korea by NADAAA
Tehrani’s deanship begins at a difficult period in Cooper Union’s history, in the still very shaky aftermath of the school’s 2014 decision to begin charging tuition for the first time since its founding 156 years ago. Ongoing student protests, a legal investigation into the school’s finances, the resignation of five board members, and the ousting of the school’s president (who took part in Tehrani's appointment) have thrown Cooper Union’s identity into question. As the school’s community (students, faculty and administrators alike) figure out what Cooper Union will become after having lost an elemental part of its founding mission, Tehrani’s placement automatically carries significant weight.
↑ Office dA with Stantec Architecture (formerly Burt Hill) for the Macallen Building
As an outsider to the school but certainly no stranger to its culture, Tehrani plans "to expand [the architecture school's] conversations with the schools of Art and Engineering, and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, to catalyze the broadening of architectural discourse within the institution as a whole.” He's reportedly planning to meet with faculty and students to get acquainted with the current climate – a standard move for any new dean, made particularly politically necessary given the present issues.
↑ Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Australia by John Wardle Architects and NADAAA.
Correction: This article has been updated to show that Office dA was founded by Nader Tehrani and Rodolphe El Khoury in 1986 – it was not co-founded with Mónica Ponce de León, however she did join the office in 1991.