Harvard's Gund Hall was designed by Australian architect John Andrews, and houses the university's Graduate School of Design.
Peter Alfred Hess/Flickr via Creative Commons Harvard's Gund Hall was designed by Australian architect John Andrews, and houses the university's Graduate School of Design.

The incoming curator of the Loeb Fellowship, John Peterson, spoke with ARCHITECT about his (very preliminary) ideas for what the program could become under his leadership. Peterson will start part-time in the fall and full-time in January. The following is an excerpt from the longer conversation.

Can you talk a little bit more about how the mission of Public Architecture is aligned with the Loeb Fellowship?
The Loeb Fellowship was started in the '70s, when there was an exodus from cities. Cities were really going through sort of a crisis period where there were riots around inequality, and cities were really in trouble. There was, through a gift of John Loeb, a vision to have an impact, particularly on cities at that time, and that vision has grown to include natural environments and rural and regional settings. How can the Harvard Graduate School of Design play a role in the impact of better city-making and the quality of cities. And like I said that's even expanded, so it's very similar at the core to what Public Architecture has been trying to do. It expresses itself in different ways, much of the fellowship's focus is around the support of 10 really talented and influential leaders and how to support the work that they are doing. But there is also an opportunity—and I'm very interested in this—for the Loeb Fellowship to have a stronger voice and participate more aggressively in this conversation about how the design of the built environment can be used again as a tool for social gain. (It already has a sort of external voice.) Again, back to the shared mission of the two groups.

How do you see that manifesting itself in terms of having a more external voice?
That's a very good question, and I don't know the answer to that. There is going to be a significant amount of time for me just to learn more about what those opportunities are and learn more about the Loeb Fellowship. I was a Loeb Fellow 10 years ago, but being a Loeb Fellow is different from being the curator of the Loeb Fellowship, and understanding the responsibilities there and the opportunity. So I am going to spend a fair amount of time meeting with stakeholders involved with the Loeb Fellowship, and meeting with other potential partners, and looking at what the opportunities are.

But some of the areas that I'm very interested in is how do we have a stronger collective voice, how does the current group of Loeb Fellows and the alumni network and, including those faculty and students of the GSD, express a more collective voice around issues that I think are urgent right now. So can we curate the thinking and the intellectual assets of the larger Loeb network in a way that can help to contribute to this larger conversation. So what does that look like—can we in fact gather those that are focused on different topics and help bring clarity to what overlaps in those topics, say the built environment and public health or the built environment in social equity or economic equity, and things like that. I realize I'm being a little vague, but it's a position I haven't taken yet, and at this point I'm really much more involved with thinking about or focusing on listening than I am on making any definitive decisions about any new directions for the Loeb Fellowship.

Read ARCHITECT's full interview with John Peterson here.