The University of Virginia's School of Architecture has selected Canadian architect and instructor Ila Berman as its next dean. Her appointment will be effective on Aug. 15, 2016. Berman, who will be the 15th dean of the School of Architecture, succeeds Elizabeth K. Meyer, who will return to the faculty at the end of her two-year term.
During her tenure, Berman plans to build on the already nationally recognized architectural program with a focus on interdisciplinary work, according to the University of Virginia's press release. "It's certainly an honor to be able to be a part of the school’s rich history and to work with its very talented faculty, staff and students," Berman said in a statement. “I believe that new collaborative models of interdisciplinary research, teaching, and practice are necessary to respond to the many forces—be they social, technological, environmental, urban, or economic—that are dramatically changing the contexts within which we are operating, and that design, in its capacity to literally 'remake the world' is a critical part of this endeavor.”
Berman arrives at the 197-year-old institution with 11 years of experience in the academic realm. The co-founder and principal of Toronto studio Scaleshift, Berman also spent the past two and a half years as director of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. While there, she doubled the school's graduate admissions following an internal review and reorganization of the curriculum.
Prior to that she was the chair of the undergraduate and graduate architecture programs at the California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, where she worked to grow the school’s then-new graduate program and expand alumni networks. That included attaining professional accreditation for the graduate program and expanding and fortifying both the graduate degree and research programs. Additionally, she founded three project-based research and design labs there covering urbanism, ecology, and digital and interactive media.
Before her time in the Bay Area, Berman served as the associate dean of Tulane University’s School of Architecture, in New Orleans, where she was granted the university's President’s Award and Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Her work there included founding and directing the URBANbuild program—a multifaceted, two-year program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to restore blighted areas of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
She also served on the AIA's Cityworks Board and the Bring New Orleans Back Commission, established by the city's former mayor Ray Nagin.
Berman received her B. Arch. in 1983 from Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where she graduated at the top of her class and received the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Medal for Design. She later went on to earn both her M.Arch. and Ph.D. in architecture in 1991 and 1993, respectively, from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Professionally, Berman's work emphasizes relationships between contemporary culture, diverse materials, and spatial practices in architecture and urbanism.