To the CED Community:
I am truly honored to return to the College of Environmental Design, this time not as an architecture student, but as your Dean. As I begin my tenure, the world is at an inflection point like no other. The intertwined challenges unfolding before our eyes—from the righteous calls on city streets for racial, economic, and environmental justice; to the disproportionate impacts of this global pandemic on black and brown communities; to the promise and pitfalls of new technologies; to the fraying sense of a public commons shred apart by neoliberalism; to a teetering worldwide economy increasingly susceptible to fascism; to the relentless drumbeat of climate change ever rising in the background—these swirling forces envelop us and push us to do better, to do the right thing, and to do so together. The nature of today’s challenges demand our values-driven disciplinary expertise, built upon the twin pillars of design and research excellence, placing a particular responsibility on the CED community to imagine, create consensus around, and build a new global environment centered on Sustainability, Equity, and Accessibility—a SEAchange that demands we see change. Our tumultuous world needs to be infused with hope for all as we fight to remake the future of human habitation...and because of who we are and what we stand for, we, my friends, are the tip of the spear.
From founders Catherine Bauer and William Wurster, to our former Dean Jennifer Wolch and our most recent Acting Dean Renee Chow, our past leaders have built an extraordinary foundation upon which we can advance impactful, lasting, and values-based change despite the vast imperfections of our past, present, and future. All institutions are imperfect, but institutions remain our best defense against tyranny and ignorance. Together, our college—outside of and hopefully soon within the beautiful brutality of Wurster Hall—will continue to prioritize excellence in our design, research, and teaching missions centered on equity, diversity, and anti-racism, and in doing so we will continue to make groundbreaking contributions to our collective fields through scholarship, design, and interdisciplinary innovation focused on justice. No virus can stop us from this, our shared calling.
I couldn’t be more inspired to be leading the College, where our impassioned students, faculty, staff, and alumni are striving to make the future a better, fairer, and more joyous place despite the many stresses of our current conditions. I am so very proud of the resilience and revolutionary zeal of our community. And yet we are at a moment when we must all, in our judgements, be toughest first upon ourselves before turning our critiques outwards. We must be open to change rather than rest on our laurels, and we must look to the needs of others before our own. I hope you will join me in this commitment, because then and only then will we be fully prepared to confront the bad troubles of our world by making, in the immortal words of John Lewis, “good trouble.”
William W. Wurster Dean
CED stands among the nation’s top environmental design schools. It is one of the world’s most distinguished laboratories for experimentation, research, and intellectual synergy. The first school to combine the disciplines of architecture, planning, and landscape architecture into a single college, CED led the way toward an integrated approach to analyzing, understanding, and designing our built environment.
CED was also among the first to conceptualize environmental design as inseparable from its social, political-economic, and cultural contexts. Its faculty and students have always seen environmental design as an exploratory spatial practice, aimed at creating forms of building, landscape, and urban plans that have yet to be imagined. At the same time, CED has historically emphasized environmental design as a profoundly ethical practice, co-produced through dynamic engagements with diverse communities, workers, businesses, and policy-makers.
Today’s students have inherited unprecedented global challenges that could not have been foreseen when the college was founded in 1959. This legacy will require radically new ways to fashion the buildings, places and landscapes that harbor our diverse ways of life. The mission of the college is to produce creative and skilled professionals to help craft built environments — ecologically sustainable and resilient, prosperous and fair, healthy and beautiful — whose logic, form, and materials we as teachers cannot yet conjure. We guide students toward a critical understanding of cities around the world, their architectures and landscapes, and their many layers of meaning. We train students in the art of designing well-loved places that both nurture our senses and challenge our imaginations. And we help students not only to acquire technical expertise, but also to develop transcendent ways of seeing and refiguring the built environment. CED's home is Wurster Hall, an intellectual hot-bed offering an exceptional array of activities and resources. These include:
- Experts and innovators visiting from around the world
- Symposia and conferences, juries, and exhibits of cutting-edge work
- Opportunities and programs for international study and practice
- A superb environmental design library
- Blake Garden, a large teaching garden in the Berkeley Hills
- The Environmental Design Archives, one of the nation’s leading archives of architectural and landscape plans and drawings
- The Visual Resources Center, an extensive slide, photograph, and digital image collection
- Computer-aided design and manufacturing technology in CED’s advanced fabrication laboratory, as well as traditional wood and metal shop facilities
- Two major research units, the Center for Environmental Design Research and the Institute for Urban and Regional Development, where students can join faculty research teams from CED and beyond
- Scholarly journals including The Berkeley Planning Journal, Ground Up, Places, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, and Room 1000
A common thread linking CED’s programs is the studio experience, involving deep immersion in theory, technology, and real-time practice for diverse domestic and international clients. In studio, fledgling designers take flight, becoming visual thinkers, critical observers, and systems scientists, often working with faculty and classmates from across the college’s departments and programs — Architecture, City and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, and Urban Design. This intense, interactive learning arena is the hallmark of a CED education, offering an unparalleled learning environment located at one of the nation’s top public research universities.
I invite you to join Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. At CED, you can help forge new urban visions for an exciting, sustainable future.