Aaron Betsky named director of Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design
March 10, 2020
Aaron Betsky, an acclaimed author and critic on art, architecture, and design, has been appointed director of Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.
Betsky comes to Virginia Tech from the School of Architecture at Taliesin (formerly known as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture), where he has been president since 2017. The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, where Betsky also served as dean from 2015 to 2017, was established by the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1932 and has been instrumental in carrying forth its namesake’s visionary approach to design and architectural education. Betsky will join Virginia Tech on June 1, 2020.
“Aaron is a proven leader with demonstrated dedication to cross-disciplinary exploration, academic excellence, and educational innovation,” said Richard Blythe, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “His international standing and connections in architecture and design are considerable and will undoubtedly help the college expand its global reach, activities, and influence. Aaron’s career path exemplifies the Beyond Boundaries approach of disciplinary interconnectedness and depth, as well as breadth.”
Hunter Pittman, who has led the School of Architecture + Design since 2016, will return to the school as an associate professor to pursue research and teaching in both the undergraduate and graduate programs.
“I would like to thank Hunter for his leadership and service as director over these last several years,” said Blythe. “His dedication has led to valuable contributions in the school’s architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and industrial design programs.”
Prior to joining the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in 2015, Betsky taught at a number of educational institutions, including the University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, the Taubman School of Architecture and Design at the University of Michigan, and SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture).
From 2006 to 2014, Betsky was the director of the Cincinnati Art Museum. He previously served as the director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute from 2001 to 2006 and was curator of architecture, design, and digital projects at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 1995 to 2001. Betsky was named artistic director of the 11th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, in 2008, and has worked professionally for the firms Frank O. Gehry & Associates, as well as Hodgetts + Fung.
Betsky is also internationally known as a lecturer, curator, reviewer, and commentator. He has written more than 20 books, including “Architecture Matters” (Thames and Hudson, 2017), “Making It Modern” (Actar, 2016), “Landscrapers: Building with the Land” (Thames and Hudson, 2002), “Architecture Must Burn” (Thames and Hudson, 2000), and “Queer Space” (William Morrow, 1997). His criticism and commentary have appeared in Architectural Record, Architectural Digest, ArtForum, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times – among many others. He writes regularly for Dezeen and currently serves as a contributing editor for Architect Magazine, writing the blog “Beyond Buildings” for that publication’s website.
“I’m very excited about the opportunities offered by Virginia Tech,” said Betsky. “The School of Architecture + Design in particular has a stellar history of experimentation and leveraging its position within a land-grant institution to serve its many communities – particularly in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but also beyond. I look forward to furthering the school’s commitment to using technology as a tool to build better cities and steward the landscapes we inhabit in ways that are not only beautiful, but also deeply sustainable for our planet into the future.”
As a scholar and practitioner interested in the intersectionality of disciplines, specifically in the service of addressing large-scale and complex problems, Betsky was also drawn to Virginia Tech through its commitment to the Beyond Boundaries vision and related initiatives found in the university’s strategic plan.
“Virginia Tech has a strategic plan that is truly carried by the entire university community,” he said. “It’s rare to find faculty and staff investing in actions and initiatives in ways that engage every corner of the university. I think this level of commitment will have a true effect of driving the institution forward.”
Active in professional service throughout his career, Betsky has served as a board member, councilman, and chairman for a number of art, architecture, and publishing organizations. He received his bachelor’s degree in history, the arts, and letters in 1979 and his master’s of architecture in 1983, both from Yale University.