Will and Nan Clarkson Visiting Chair

the clarksons.

Will and Nan Clarkson

For more than 25 years, Will and Nan Clarkson have generously supported the Clarkson Chair program, which invites distinguished scholars and professionals to campus for lectures and seminars that engage students, faculty, practitioners and members of the public in knowledge-sharing, scholarship and debate on critical issues in architecture, planning and design. 

The Clarkson Visiting Chair is an endowed visiting position awarded semiannually to a distinguished scholar or professional in the disciplines of architecture, planning and design. This award is in recognition of excellence in the pursuit of scholarship and professional application within these disciplines.

Will Clarkson was many things - a businessman, a teacher and mentor, a community leader, a philanthropist. He was also one of best friends the School of Architecture and Planning has ever had. He died May 1, 2018, at the age of 91. 

Clarkson Chair in Architecture (spring 2020)

Sierra Bainbridge, Senior Principal & Managing Director, MASS Design Group

Sierra Bainbridge.

Sierra began work with MASS in 2008 focusing on landscape architecture and joined full time in 2009 to finalize design and oversee implementation of the Butaro Hospital, MASS’s first project. Currently Sierra directs the ongoing design and implementation of MASS’s planning and architectural projects and is currently overseeing The Kayanja Center, an academic facility supporting rural health care delivery and research in Uganda, a number of African Conservation Schools in DRC, Tanzania, Zambia, and Rwanda, and the Butaro Hospital Expansion Plan, among others. Those completed include Butaro Hospital, the Umubano Primary School, the Butaro Doctors’ Housing, and the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Center.

Prior to joining MASS, Sierra worked for four years at James Corner Field Operations, primarily in design and oversight of implementation of Section 1 of the New York City High Line. Sierra has taught graduate level studios at various universities and from 2010-2012, Sierra served as Head of the Architecture Department at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) in Rwanda. At KIST, Sierra was instrumental in shaping the current curriculum. She is invited to speak regularly, including the keynote address at the Healthcare Design Conference, serving as a Sasaki Distinguished Visiting Critic at the Boston Architectural College, and lecturing at the Carter ‘Lectures In African Studies’ series, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, University of Toronto, and the American Institute of Architects, among others. Select features of Sierra’s work with MASS Design Group include A+U Magazine, Lotus, Mark Magazine, and Detail.

Sierra received her Bachelors of Arts in Art and Architectural History from Smith College and her Masters of Landscape Architecture and Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

Clarkson Chair in Planning (fall 2019)

Vanessa Watson.

Vanessa Watson, Professor of City Planning, University of Cape Town

We are pleased to welcome Vanessa Watson as the 2019 Will and Nan Clarkson Chair in Planning. Vanessa Watson is Professor of City Planning in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, and founding member of the African Centre for Cities, both at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Her research and publications focus on southern perspectives on planning theory, African cities and urbanisation, urban food security, and currently on planning and corruption in Africa. More recently she has followed the new economic forces re-shaping African cities, in particular the private-sector driven property development initiatives. Her work unsettles the geo-politics of knowledge production in planning by providing alternative theoretical perspectives from the Global South. Recent projects also include studying governance of urban food systems in African cities. Watson is the Global South Editor of Urban Studies, an editor of the European Journal of Development Research, senior editor for Oxford Bibliographies Online: Urban Studies, and a member of the editorial boards of multiple national and international journals. She was the lead consultant for UN Habitat’s 2009 Global Report on Planning Sustainable Cities and is on their global reports Advisory Board. She was chair and co-chair of the Global Planning Education Association Network (2007-2011). She is a founder of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and the Association of African Planning Schools.

Watson holds degrees from the Universities of Natal, Cape Town and the Architectural Association of London, and a PhD from the University of Witwatersrand. She is a Fellow of the University of Cape Town.

Previous Clarkson Chairs in Architecture

  • Rahul Mehrotra
  • Yoshiharu Tsukamoto 
  • Alberto Campo Baeza
  • Eve Blau
  • Frank Barkow
  • Guy Nordenson
  • Anne Lacaton
  • Antoine Picon
  • Teddy Cruz
  • Yve-Alain Bois
  • Joan Ockman
  • Michele Addington 
  • Kenneth Frampton
  • Anthony Vidler
  • Glenn Murcutt
  • Peter Zumthor
  • Lars Lerup
  • Mark Wigley
  • Sanford Kwinter
  • K. Michael Hayes
  • Daniel Hoffman
  • M. Christine Boyer
  • Alberto Pérez-Gómez
  • Marco Frascari

Previous Clarkson Chairs in Planning

  • Ann Forsyyth
  • john powell
  • Todd Swanstrom
  • Emily Talen
  • Lewis Hopkins
  • Edward Blakely
  • Thomas Daniels
  • Philip Berke
  • Donald Shoup
  • Michael Teitz
  • Michael Greenberg
  • Michael Batty
  • Lawrence Frank
  • Peter Dreier
  • Michael Kwartler
  • Gerrit-Jan Knaap
  • Alan Artibise
  • Andrew Isserman
  • Michael Storper
  • Robert Yaro
  • Patsy Healey
  • John Forester