Office of the Dean

Welcome Message from J. Meejin Yoon, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning

Woman standing on the roof of Rand Hall with Sibley Dome in the background

I am honored to return to Cornell as the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Though my return to Ithaca has taken about as long as Odysseus, as I reflect upon the journey from — and return to — this remarkable place, I am struck by the fact that I feel the same sense of optimism and possibility today that I felt as an undergraduate student in the 1990s.

This hopefulness may be hard to understand when the world's challenges seem more pressing and complex than ever before, and the nation seems more divided and uncertain than many of us have seen. This optimism comes from knowing that at AAP we share principle values — to think creatively, critically, and constructively to better imagine, shape, plan, and build worthy futures.

Our disciplines are about acts of transformation. From scholarship that creates new knowledge, to research that enables innovations, to art that prompts new questions, and design that constructs new possibilities, architecture, art, and planning are not only relevant, but they are also crucial to shaping and addressing many of the significant challenges of our times. From climate change to displacement, urbanization, automation, and resiliency, our disciplines are critical to the artifacts and actions that will transform our lives and the lives of others. We have much to offer.

I am humbled to continue the committed, astute, and bold leadership of the college and would like to acknowledge several deans for all they have contributed to the current vision and mission of AAP: William McMinn (1984–96), Stanley Bowman (interim dean, 1996), Anthony Vidler (1997–98), Porus Olpadwala (1999–2004), Mohsen Mostafavi (2004–07), W. Stanley Taft (interim dean, 2008), Kent Kleinman (2008–18), and Kieran Donaghy (interim dean, 2018). I would also like to thank the department chairs and directors, faculty, and staff for all they have done and continue to do to build excellence across the programs. Lastly, I am energized by our students, who challenge us in ways we do not expect, advance the extents of the disciplines, and make tangible the educational mission of AAP.

Our humanist perspective, disciplinary expertise, and interdisciplinary ethos allow us to offer a unique way of working in the world. The field, the lab, the library, and the studio are not just our spaces of production, but they are individually and collectively a mode of knowledge production that depends on sustained critical thinking and iterative testing. This imagination, experimentation, and rigor are what enables us to advance new futures that will impact our built and natural environment, our social ideals, and our cultural aspirations.

At AAP, we bear a collective responsibility. From the words of the American economist and political scientist Herbert A. Simon, if science is concerned with the world as it is, then design through the lens of our disciplines "is concerned with how things ought to be." The ought of Simon's quote brings with it a certain set of responsibilities — for him, design is not mere speculation or imagination or projection. For Simon, the future is designed with specificity and intention, compelled by a sense of purpose and optimism, but also a sense of duty — an oughtness. In returning to Ithaca, to this place of unmistakable beauty and potential, openness and purpose, I am inspired by our community — one that is committed to transforming the world into how it ought to be.

J. Meejin Yoon
Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning