Friday, May 21, 1999

Design dean to step down


UC's Chatterjee 'put Cincinnati on the map'

BY JACKIE DEMALINE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[chatterjee]
Jay Chatterjee, dean of UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Jay Chatterjee, the man most responsible for creating a landscape of signature architecture on the University of Cincinnati campus and a major influence on new downtown urban design, will resign as dean of UC's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) effective June 30, 2000.

        Mr. Chatterjee, 63, made the announcement Thursday to DAAP faculty and staff. After a year's sabbatical, he will return to the faculty of the School of Planning, where he started teaching in 1967.

        “Jay has been more than an academic dean,” said Peter Eisenman, architect of the award-winning Aronoff Center for Design and Art that houses DAAP. “What Jay has done has produced an extraordinary legacy. He's put Cincinnati on the map.”

        That legacy includes designs for buildings and outdoor spaces throughout the main campus, including three buildings by renowned contemporary architects that generated buzz locally, nationally and internationally:

[Engineering Research Center]
Engineering Research Center
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        • The Engineering Research Center (1995) designed by Michael Graves, a UC architecture graduate who is a champion of post-modern architecture and likes to include classical elements in buildings. It is a two-toned brick building notable for its copper barrel roof and four smokestacks.

        • The Aronoff Center for Design and Art (1996) designed by Mr. Eisenman, at Clifton Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This low, crawling, pastel-paneled building is an example of “deconstructivist” architecture with its tilted walls, trapezoidal windows and zigzagging design. It is joined to the old DAAP building.

        “This building could not have been done before computers. It's too complicated. No two columns and no two beams are similar,” Mr. Chatterjee told The Cincinnati Enquirer just before the building opened.

        • The Vontz Center for Molecular Studies (1999) designed by Frank Gehry, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The futuristic red brick building is to open in the fall. It is composed of six cell-like structures around an atrium and has ballooning walls and huge, irregular windows.

[Vontz Center for Molecular Studies]
Vontz Center for Molecular Studies
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        When UC acquired full state university status in 1977, Mr. Chatterjee realized “several hundred million dollars would be spent to bring UC up to the state's standards.” He convinced UC administration of the need for a master design plan and advocated the use of internationally known architects.

        This year will see the new Kingsgate Conference Center and University Hall and a new Science and Allied Health Building for Raymond Walters College.

        Completion of UC's university commons and campus green and the Clermont College expansion are scheduled for 2000. New residence halls are planned for completion in 2001, and a new Center for Enrollment Services in 2002.

        His long association with the university — 32 years including 18 years as dean of DAAP — he thinks was vital to his success. “I feel strongly that the types of things I've done demand a long-term commitment to accomplish,” he said.

        He's also deeply involved in the new architectural face of downtown Cincinnati.

[Vontz Center for Molecular Studies]
Aronoff Center for Design and Art
(Saed Hindash photo)
| ZOOM |
        He is a member of the city's Urban Design Review Board. He was on the selection committees of both the Aronoff Center for the Arts, designed by Cesar Pelli, and the new Contemporary Arts Center designed by Zaha Hadid.

        “Jay has been an important part of the growth of the Contemporary Arts Center,” said Director Charles Desmarais. “As I look at the city and how the community's sights have been raised, particularly in the area of architecture, he's been a major force behind that.”

        The time seems right to resign the deanship, Mr. Chatterjee said, for a number of reasons. “I've been dean for quite a long time — 18 years. The DAAP building is done, the campus planning is set and moving on its own.”

        In addition to the new campus, Mr. Chatterjee has steered DAAP through a major programming shift that embraces new technologies and computer graphics. The college “is doing increasingly global work and interdisciplinary work,” and attracts incoming students with the highest SAT scores on campus.

        “He's brought national prominence to the university through the DAAP and had a profound effect on the curriculum,” said UC Provost Anthony Perzigian. He expects to have a search committee in place for a replacement by June.

        The university will also seek a replacement for Robert Werner, dean of UC's College-Conservatory of Music, who will retire next year. Mr. Perzigian expects that search committee to be in place by mid-June. Dean John Hutton of the College of Medicine has been named search committee chairman.

        During the coming academic year, Mr. Chatterjee's emphasis will be on “changing the way we're delivering our education. (The field) is about visualization. As I travel the world over, I'm amazed to see the changes in how we visualize.”

        As well as returning to a faculty post in 2001, Mr. Chatterjee intends to stay “very much involved” with urban design in Cincinnati and nationally. He is newly appointed to the U.S. General Services Administration's Peer Review Panel for architect selection for government projects.

        A native of India, Mr. Chatterjee is a U.S. citizen and holds a master of architecture in urban design degree from Harvard University and a master of regional planning degree from the University of North Carolina.

        Among his extensive civic involvements, Mr. Chatterjee is on the board of the Seasongood Foundation and is an emeritus board member of the Contemporary Arts Center. He has served on the boards of the Better Housing League and the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati. In 1998, the national Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning established the Jay Chatterjee Distinguished Service Award.

       



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