Richard Sommer, dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, has been named a recipient of one of this year's Distinguished Professor Awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.
ACSA’s Distinguished Professor Awards are bestowed upon individuals whose work provides significant insight into the understanding and advancement of architecture and architectural education. Recipients have been deemed by nominators, and a jury of peers, to have had a significant impact as teachers, and to have fostered an understanding and appreciation of architectural education in the community at large. Special emphasis is given to professors of architecture whose work and service has had a major influence upon students over an extended period of time, and whose teaching has inspired a generation of students who themselves have contributed to the advancement of architecture.
Dean Sommer began teaching as a studio assistant while still an undergraduate. For almost three decades he has been an influential pedagogue at a number of leading schools of architecture, where he has developed new curricula and programs that have drawn upon his creative work and research in architecture, urban design, and monument-making under democracy. Before 2009, Sommer was a member of the faculty at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, where he was director of the school’s Urban Design programs. He has held several other academic posts, including the O’Hare Chair/Visiting American Scholar, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland; Scholar-in-Residence, California College of the Arts; and visiting professorships at K.U. Leuven, Columbia, Iowa State, and Washington University.
Since arriving at the University of Toronto in 2009, Sommer has led a profound transformation of the Daniels Faculty. Mobilizing talented colleagues, he built an inventive undergraduate foundation in architectural studies; renewed the school’s three graduate professional programs; created a unique PhD in Architecture, Landscape, and Design; incorporated UofT’s programs in art, curatorial studies and forestry; and helped found various research initiatives, ultimately quadrupling the size of the school. His boldest achievement in Toronto — constructing One Spadina Crescent — was the result of a collaboration with a large design team lead by NADAAA. The project reinvigorated a major civic landmark that is an embodiment of the Daniels Faculty’s newfound prominence. The One Spadina project has received over 20 local, national, and international design and planning awards to date.
Dean Sommer will receive his medallion and be elected to ACSA’s College of Distinguished Professors at the organization's national conference in San Diego on March 12.