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Endowments at UVA

Elson Professorship in Architecture


The Elson Professorship in Architecture is intended to be held by the dean of the School of Architecture and was funded by Edward E. Elson (Col '56), former U.S. ambassador to Denmark. His son Harry Elson II earned a master's degree in architecture at the University in 1991. A former rector of the University and a member of the Board of Visitors from 1984 to 1992, Ambassador Elson is an advisory board member of the U.Va. Art Museum. He has served or is serving on boards and councils for numerous educational institutions, including Brown University and Hampton University, and has received many awards for his civic involvement. He was the first recipient of the National Public Radio Distinguished Service Award, subsequently renamed in his honor, and in 1998 received the Great Cross of the Order of Dannebrog, the highest decoration that can be given to a non-head of state by the queen of Denmark.

Ila Berman was appointed dean of the School of Architecture and was elected as the Edward E. Elson Professor in Architecture in July 2016 for a five-year term.

Dr. Berman is an architect, theorist, and curator of architecture and urbanism whose research investigates the relationship between culture and the evolution of contemporary material and spatial practices. She holds a doctorate in architectural history, theory and criticism from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design and is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Design, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowships, an American Institute of Architect's Special Achievement Award, and the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching from Tulane University, where she was a Favrot Professor and the Associate Dean of the School of Architecture until 2007. While at Tulane University, Dr. Berman was the founding director and Principal Investigator of URBANbuild—an outreach architectural and urban design program for which she received a major HUD/URAP grant, the work of which was exhibited at the Ogden Museum and published in her book URBANbuild local global winner of an AIGA award for the top 50 books of 2009 and a Communication Arts 2010 Award of Excellence. Dr. Berman was also the Director of the School of Architecture at CCA in San Francisco for close to six years and more recently the O'Donovan Director of the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. She has served on many design juries, including: the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), design awards and international awards for the XV Pan American Architecture Biennial (BAQ) in Quito, Ecuador, and the Mies Crown Hall America's Prize (MCHAP) that bi-annually awards the top international work of architecture in North, Central and South America. Dr. Berman has served on numerous boards and panels including those of the California Architectural Foundation (CAF), the AIA, the Canadian Council of University Schools of Architecture (CCUSA), and the ACSA, in addition to being appointed to the Urban Design Committee of the Mayor's BNOB Commission in New Orleans, where she worked to support the development of design directives and strategies for the rebuilding of the city post-Katrina.

Dr. Berman's design work, research and teaching ranges in scale from objects to cities. She teaches advanced research studios focused on a series of topics that deal with the impact of culture, theory, ecology, and technology on design as well as architectural and urban history and theory, primarily focused on the evolution of modernism and the transformation of contemporary practice in architecture since 1968. In her current research, she is completing a book on the relationship of contemporary digital technologies to architectural practice entitled FLUX: Architecture in a Parametric Landscape that will be published in 2017-18. Her design work and publications include her recent book on art and architectural installation: Expanded Field: Architectural Installation Beyond Art; URBANbuild local_global; New Constellations New Ecologies; Sustainable Skyscrapers: Vertical Ecologies and Urban Ecosystems; and New Orleans: Strategies for a City in Soft Land among others. In addition to her designed installations at the Contemporary Art Center, the Ogden Museum, and many other public and private institutions, Dr. Berman was the creator of Urban Operations for a Future City, an exhibition at the 2006 International Architectural Biennale in Venice, Italy, WBA3: Architecture in the Expanded Field an installation designed for the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, and Urban Syncopation, an installation at the Gardiner Museum, developed for Nuit Blanche 2016, an international art and architectural festival in Toronto. Berman is also a partner with Mona El Khafif of the firm Scaleshift, which, as part of Team West 8, won first place in the Fort Mason Center design competition in San Francisco.

History of Past Recipients and Projects