J. Meejin Yoon, B.Arch. ’95, has been appointed to a second term as the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP), Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff announced Nov. 17.
The Cornell Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee voted in October to approve a new five-year term effective Jan. 2, 2024. Yoon’s tenure as dean began Jan. 1, 2019, when she became the first woman to lead the college.
“Meejin is deeply committed to advancing education and research across design, the arts and the built environment, as well as spearheading innovative collaborations across disciplines and campuses,” Kotlikoff said. “She accomplishes dramatic institutional change by collaborating, listening and supporting the achievements of others, while her design practice continues to make important contributions to public life. I’m extraordinarily grateful for her ongoing leadership of AAP.”
AAP is home to 130 full-time and visiting faculty members and approximately 950 students engaged in 19 degree programs across four departments, with academic programs offered in Ithaca, New York City and Rome.
“The last few years have presented unprecedented challenges and opportunities and it has been an honor and a privilege to be part of such an inspiring community of leaders, faculty, staff, students and alumni,” Yoon said. “Thanks to the dedication and support of so many, we continue to catalyze critical collaborations and partnerships that build on the strengths of the college and university, enabling us to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing cities and communities today and advance AAP’s mission to create a more just, sustainable and thriving world.”
During Yoon’s tenure, AAP initiatives have garnered the highest levels of philanthropic support in the college’s history, which will nearly double the college’s endowment, advance transformative initiatives and strengthen core priorities. Under Yoon’s leadership, the college has:
- Launched the Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities for research on sustainable and just cities, with a $25 million foundational gift from Mui Ho ’62, B.Arch. ’66.
- Named and endowed the Gensler Family AAP NYC Center with a $10 million gift from the late M. Arthur Gensler, B.Arch. ’58, and his family.
- Established the multicollege Paul Rubacha Department of Real Estate in partnership with the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business with a $30 million foundational gift from Paul Rubacha ’72, MBA ’73.
- Renewed the Mellon Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities program in partnership with the Society for the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, with a phase three grant to focus on racial and social justice in American built environments.
- Launched the multicollege Design + Technology Radical Collaboration initiative through the provost’s office.
- Established the AAP Office of Diversity and Inclusion and appointed new college leadership for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
- Recruited more than a third of the college’s tenured and tenure-track faculty, including six social impact cohort hires, two provost-supported CIVIC (Critical Inquiry into Values, Imagination and Culture) Radical Collaboration positions, and two inaugural Strauch Fellows.
In addition to serving as dean and directing the Design Across Scales Lab at AAP, Yoon is the co-founding partner of Boston-based architecture and design firm Höweler + Yoon. Award-winning projects include the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia and the Collier Memorial at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both lauded for design excellence and their community-engaged design processes. Current architecture projects include the MIT Museum, the Institute of Democracy at UVA and the Living Village at the Yale Divinity School.
Yoon’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including MoMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. She is the author or co-author of several books: “Verify in Field: Projects and Conversations Höweler + Yoon”; “Public Works: Unsolicited Small Projects for the Big Dig”; and “Absence.”
Recent honors include the 2022 Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts, to be formally bestowed by World Cultural Council at a ceremony this month, and her 2021 election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, considered the highest form of recognition of artistic merit in the United States.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cornell in 1995, Yoon earned a master’s of architecture in urban design from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1997, and was a Fulbright fellow to Korea the following year. She joined MIT’s faculty in 2001 and in 2014 became the first woman to lead its architecture department, before returning to Cornell and AAP in 2019.