The Graduate School of Design honored the late J. Max Bond Jr. ’55, who was one of the first African American graduates of the GSD as well as a prominent architect and educator, with a panel that focused on his work on Friday.
Bond died of cancer in February of this year at the age of 73 and was the country’s most influential African American architect.
Students, teachers, friends and colleagues gathered to discuss Bond’s achievements and contributions to American architecture and how his work can be further incorporated into the GSD curriculum.
In 1980, he was appointed to the New York City Planning Commission by Mayor Ed I. Koch—a post he held until 1986. Bond lived and worked in New York City at the time of his death, and was responsible for the National September 11th Museum at the World Trade Center.
Throughout his life, he completed projects such as the renovation of the Harvard Club of New York City, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, and the Harvard Institutes of Medicine building in Cambridge.
The panel discussion emphasized Bond’s influence on architectural pedagogy. Bond frequently demonstrated his belief in the role of architecture as a means of transforming society through advocacy and public service.
His colleagues called him both a terrific architect and a visionary leader.
“Max [Bond’s] influence is interesting because he worked not just in a community, but for and with a community,” said panelist Craig Barton, an architecture professor at the University of Virginia and a Loeb Fellow at the GSD.
The speakers emphasized that Bond’s legacy as a socially aware architect still resonates today.
“We are educating the next generation of leaders who are going to make social, physical change,” Barton explained to the audience.
Bond earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1955 from Harvard College and his master’s degree in architecture three years later from the Graduate School of Design.
A renowned educator, Bond served as a professor at Columbia University from 1968 to 1984 and as dean of the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies at the City College of New York from 1985 to 1992.
Friday’s panel was hosted in conjunction with an exhibit in the Gund Hall Lobby honoring Bond’s work. The exhibit will be displayed until October 18.
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