On Wednesday, May 18, Pratt Institute degree candidates will gather in their caps and gowns at Radio City Music Hall in the heart of Manhattan for Pratt Institute’s 133rd Commencement. The Institute will commemorate the achievements of more than 1,100 graduating students at the iconic venue and confer their degrees during the ceremony, which will begin at 10 AM. Commencement will also be livestreamed on the Pratt website.
This year, architect and educator Toshiko Mori will receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address. Additionally, honorary degrees will be awarded to fashion designer Byron Lars and Director of Astrovisualization for the American Museum of Natural History Carter Burwell Emmart.
Toshiko Mori’s honorary degree will be conferred in recognition of her achievements as an architect and educator. Her remarkable career sets a high standard for creativity, design excellence, and engagement with pressing global concerns. Mori is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and was Chair of the Department of Architecture from 2002 to 2008. She is principal of Toshiko Mori Architect, and founder of VisionArc, a think-tank promoting global dialogue for a sustainable future. She has been honored with numerous awards, most recently the Isamu Noguchi Award in 2021, the Louis Auchincloss Prize in 2020, the AIA/ASCA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education in 2019, the OMI Arts Leadership Award in 2019, Architectural Record’s Women in Design Leader Award in 2019, and the Tau Sigma Delta National Honor Society Gold Medal in 2016. Her two projects in Senegal—Thread Artists’ Residency and Cultural Center, and Fass School and Teachers’ Residences—have both won the AIA Architecture Award. Architectural Digest has included Toshiko Mori Architect in their annual AD100 list since 2014. Mori has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2016, and was elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design in 2020. In 2020, she published two new monographs, one with A+U magazine for their February 2020 issue and another with ArchiTangle Berlin titled Toshiko Mori Architect Observations. Mori’s projects include the A.R.T. New York theater, the canopy at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Pembroke Hall at Brown University, exhibit design at MoMA and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and numerous residential projects in the United States, Taiwan, China, and Austria.
Byron Lars’ honorary degree will be conferred in recognition of his celebrated work as a designer in the fashion arena. Lars started designing under his own label in 1991 with a small collection of sportswear focusing on what he refers to as “twisted American classics.” Transfixed by the idea of elevating pedestrian staples, Lars concocted a distorted version of his grandfather’s fishing jacket incorporating Dior’s New Look proportions. The result was a Duchess-of-Windsor-meets-Field-&-Stream hybrid aesthetic. These kinds of style mash-ups—which he views as fashion icebreakers—are an integral part of Lars’s design DNA. His clothes are further distinguished by their body-enhancing fit, meticulous workmanship, and obsessive attention to detail. The recent formation of a partnership with longtime colleague Sheila Gray has not only yielded a new dynamic-duo approach in the brand’s management but also the new name, “In Earnest,” for the latest iteration of the firmly established clothing brand.
Carter Burwell Emmart’s honorary degree will be conferred in recognition of his commitment to bringing complex scientific ideas into the broader conversation. Emmart is Director of Astrovisualization for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), where he directs the production of the award-winning space shows and the development of the NASA-supported OpenSpace software project that interactively visualizes the museum’s Digital Universe 3D Atlas. Carter, who previously worked at NASA Ames Research Center and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, earned his undergraduate degree in geophysics from the University of Colorado, where he was also an organizer and illustrator for the Case for Mars conference series. He received an honorary doctorate from Sweden’s Linkoping University for directing their graduate interns at AMNH to bring the latest visualization research into planetarium domes. In 2016, he was awarded the prestigious Technical Achievement Award of the International Planetarium Society. Carter’s father, Weston, attended Pratt Institute after fighting in World War II and became a commercial artist, who inspired his son to think visually and appreciate nature through frequent trips to museums. Carter began classes at the old Hayden Planetarium at the age of ten.