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 Planning (fall 2019)

Vanessa Watson.

Vanessa Watson

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.

Clarkson Chair in Architecture (fall 2018)

Rahul Mehrotra

Rahul Mehrotra.

Rahul Mehrotra studied at the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad graduated with a Master’s Degree in Urban Design with distinction from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard (1987). Apart from his engagement with the design of buildings, Mehrotra has been actively involved in civic and urban affairs in Mumbai, having served on commissions for historic preservation and environmental issues, with various neighborhood groups. He was the Executive Director (1994–2004) of the Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), where he is now a Trustee and has taught at the University of Michigan (2003–2007) and at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at MIT (2007–2010).

Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on issues to do with architecture, conservation and urban planning in Mumbai and India. His writings include coauthoring Bombay—The Cities Within, which covers the city’s urban history from the 1600s to the present; Conserving an Image Center—The Fort Precinct in Bombay, which was a seminal study, and based on this study and its recommendations the historic Fort area in Mumbai was declared a conservation precinct in 1995—the first such designation in India. In 2000, he edited a book for the UIA that earmarks the end of the century and is titled The Architecture of the 20th Century in the South Asian Region. Mehrotra has also edited the first of the three books that document the 2004 Michigan Debates on Urbanism, and in 2011 wrote Architecture in India – Since 1990, which is a reading of contemporary Indian architecture.

Recent news

Previous Clarkson Chairs in Architecture

  • 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