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The Turth Behind Mostafavi's Departure?

Given all of the recent hullabaloo concerning Milstein Hall and the history of ineffectual leadership, faculty in-fighting, and financial mis-management in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, combined with Mostafavi's tendency to ruffle feathers both at AA and Cornell, it should have been no surprise last Friday when Mostafavi announced his departure to Harvard's Graduate School of Design.

Of course, the University spun the story in the only way they could: That Mostafavi's departure to Harvard is actually a sign of success for Cornell. The title of the Chronicle article says it all: "AAP Dean to lead Harvard design school".

The quotes from Skorton, Biddy, and Mostafavi lay it on pretty thick and make it sound like everything is hunky-dory in Sibley Hall. It's possible that Mostafavi just wanted to return to Harvard, but it seems like other issues were brewing. Behind Biddy's chipper remarks you can almost hear her saying, "Thanks for the headache, Mostafavi!"

Neither of us at MetaEzra is an expert on AAP politics, so please write in to us to let us know your thoughts. Until then, the comments over on Archinet are revealing: Apparently Mostafavi was seeking to bolster Cornell's graduate architecture programs at the expense of its extremely well-reputed undergraduate program. The most interesting are published after the jump:

-- He is perfect for Harvard. They can have him. At Cornell all his "innovations" were ultimately superficial.....graphic even. His goal was the destruction of the undergraduate program which was once based on an academic rigor and discipline. His legacy, Milstein Hall, embodies the shallowness and and brand-slavery that only Harvard can satisfy. This generation of Cornellians should wake up and see that this is good thing for them and the faculty of the school should also wake up and see that it also needs to get with the program and remember how to prepare students for success in the profession. Few are sorry to see him go.

-- Last time this happened we had an interim dean for about a year, then an in-house faculty was elevated to dean for about 4 to 5 years. Whoever it is, he/she will be touted as the One who will return the school to glory.

-- He was good with the money and this will be his true legacy from the AA, and should serve him and the institution well at the GSD.

-- I would dispute his "educational" greatness. he is ultimately conservative in his approach to architecture, but he enjoys the perks of Deanship in getting to rub shoulders with Rem, and Peter and Zaha and Bernard, etc. He used this position at Cornell to get rid of a perfectly good design by Barkow Lieblinger and replace it with the big name of OMA. He certainly enjoys power.

-- Mohsen in my opinion, moved Cornell in a good direction. He got Milstein Hall back on track, attracted a lot of good visiting faculty, raised a lot of money, and created studios in NYC. without him, Milstein Hall will now never get built.

-- I am a BArch alum and have met him several times in so called alumni gatherings. The man had a plan to expand the graduate school at the expense of Ithaca and the UG program. All signs pointed in that direction. The NY studios, getting rid of Barkow, Rem, the MArch programe, etc. I don't know what the reasoning is for the switch whether its construction or what, but it clearly is showing that this was probably in the works (the move to Harvard) for a while. Grad students have few advocates among the faculty.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on August 16, 2007 (#)

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