George B. Johnston Appointed Chair of Georgia Tech School of Architecture


Teri Nagel, Georgia Tech College of Architecture


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New leader aims to break down disciplinary boundaries of architecture and engineering.

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Professor George B. Johnston, a registered architect and noted cultural historian, was today appointed chair of the Georgia Tech School of Architecture. A 26-year member of the architecture faculty, he is the first to hold this newly created position after the College of Architecture reorganized into five schools.

As chair, Johnston will provide leadership and direction for all academic and administrative affairs in the school. In addition to expanding relationships with other disciplines in the College of Architecture and across campus, he also has been tasked with reforming undergraduate and graduate education to best prepare graduates for dramatic changes in architectural practice.

“Dr. Johnston is without doubt the most capable person to carry out the mission of this School, and best to prepare our graduates for a future that will see dramatic changes in architectural practice,” said Dean Alan Balfour. “Given the new administration and a very adventurous strategic plan, this new chair must be able to take control and act quickly.”

“The division of knowledge and expertise between the fields of architecture and engineering that served so well in the industrial age is giving way to a new model of integrated knowledge in the digital age. Who better than Georgia Tech is so well positioned to bridge this divide?” Johnston commented. “The digital-age practice of architecture will rise on creative contact between design and research across fields and disciplinary boundaries. And it will require flexibility and an enterprising spirit that comes from engaging the world through community action and international exchange, from weighing the human benefits and environmental costs in all we do. Georgia Tech has every reason to be ambitious in charting this new direction.”

Nearly 300 students gathered in the newly renovated Hinman Research Building today to hear the announcement.

“In his term as interim chair, [Johnston] has shown persistent dedication and effectiveness in dealing with all aspects of the Institute, College [of Architecture], and the School [of Architecture],” said Balfour. “His nationally recognized scholarship directly addresses technological and cultural implications of making architecture in the American context. His appointment also underscores my deep commitment to being at the forefront in building technology and computation.”

Georgia Tech has a proud heritage in architectural education, closely linking applied technology and fine arts since 1908. Today, the School of Architecture has 31 full-time faculty and approximately 425 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs.

Johnston joined the faculty of Georgia Tech in 1984, and was promoted to the rank of professor in 2010. He received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Mississippi State University in 1979, a Master of Architecture degree from Rice University in 1984 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in American Cultural History from Emory University in 2006.

His teaching has always been concerned with design, but with a particular emphasis on the history and theory of architectural practice. His ongoing projects address questions of how the profession of architecture, through both traditional and emerging tools of practice, both perpetuates and challenges social and cultural conventions.

His recent book, Drafting Culture: A Social History of Architectural Graphic Standards (MIT Press 2008), has been praised for its provocative insights and its relevance to present debates surrounding the advancement of architectural practice.

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george johnston, georgia tech architecture, georgia tech design, master of architecture
  • Created By: Teri Nagel
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jan 14, 2011 - 7:17am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:07pm