Parsons appoints William Morrish Dean of School of Construction Environments

June 28, 2009 |

NEW YORK, June 11, 2009 – Parsons The New School for Design has appointed William Morrish Dean of the School of Constructed Environments, which houses Parsons’ esteemed programs in Architecture, Interior Design, Lighting Design, and Product Design. His term will begin on July 1, 2009.

Morrish previously held the Elwood R. Quesada Chair in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning at the University of Virginia, where he taught and led research in the areas of sustainable urban infrastructure, new housing models, and global urbanization and climate change. In this role, he focused on interdisciplinary work addressing what he calls the "second generation of sustainability": the design of cultural ecologies.

"At Parsons, we are reshaping our curriculum so that students learn how to work in an interdisciplinary way to address real-world issues such as urbanism, globalism, and sustainability," said Parsons Dean Joel Towers. “Bill’s experience working across disciplines and his personal commitment to examining the social implications of design make him an ideal choice for this position.”

The School of Constructed Environments at Parsons is the country’s only comprehensive school of architecture, interior, lighting, and product design. The school is part of a new academic structure of five thematic schools, which were created to better facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to design education.

“Parsons is an extraordinary place of intersecting cultures, academic scholarship, and global social consciousness,” said Morrish. “I am particularly excited to take on the role of dean at this critical moment when collaboration in urban design is so paramount.”

He is a nationally recognized urban designer whose practice encompasses inter-disciplinary research on urban housing and infrastructure, collaborative publications on human settlement and community design, and educational programs exploring integrated design, which are applied to a wide range of innovative community-based city projects. Drawing from the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, planning and architectural history, his work engages citizens and civic leaders in the act of giving visual representation and form to the complex infrastructural, cultural and ecological systems that link residents to community, city to region, and local to global. Identifying points of convergence between systems, he defines principles making the connections between nature to humans, and humans to humans tangible. From these places he constructs sustainable urban spaces and practices based on the everyday economic and ecological transactions of the local urban society.

These ideas have been implemented through the Phoenix Public Art Works program, team THINK’s proposal for rebuilding the World Trade Center, and design assistance work efforts for rebuilding New Orleans. He is the author of Civilizing Terrains, and coauthored Building for the Arts, Planning To Stay, and Growing Urban Habitats. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Architecture (1971) and Harvard Graduate School of Design, with a Master of Architecture in Urban Design (1978).

Prior to his appointment, Morrish's engagement with The New School included a collaboration with the Graduate Program in International Affairs, to complete a comprehensive review of the United Nations Habitat for Human Settlements Program’s global work plan, which details initiatives in the areas of sustainable urban planning, management, and governance. In addition, he contributed an article about rebuilding efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans to the Fall 2008 issue of Social Research, the quarterly scholarly journal of The New School for Social Research.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To view images of Morrish’s work, please click here.

About the School for Constructed Environments

The School of Constructed Environments at Parsons The New School for Design brings together Parsons academic offerings in the fields of architecture, interior design, lighting design and product design. In addition to the new MFA in Interior Design*, this encompasses a Master of Architecture, Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architectural Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design, and Associates Degree in Interior Design. The school is one of five thematic schools that Parsons has recently created to better facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to design education. These also include The School of Art, Media and Technology (Fine Art, Photography, Illustration, Communication Design, and Design and Technology); The School of Fashion; The School of Design Strategies (Foundation, Integrated Design, Design & Management, Environmental Studies, and proposed thematic graduate programs in Sustainability, Urban and Trans-disciplinary Design); and The School of Art and Design History and Theory.

About Parsons The New School for Design

Parsons The New School for Design has been a pioneer in art and design education for more than a century. Based in New York but active around the world, the school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the full spectrum of design disciplines. Critical thinking and collaboration are at the heart of a Parsons education. A student-centered curriculum allows for both focused and interdisciplinary learning, with unparalleled internship opportunities and industry partnerships laying the groundwork for entrepreneurship and professional success. An integral part of The New School, Parsons builds on the university’s legacy of progressive ideals, scholarship, and pedagogy. Parsons graduates are leaders in their respective fields, with a shared commitment to creatively and critically addressing the complexities of life in the 21st century. For more information, please visit

*Pending state approval



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