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Architecture Dean Mark Robbins named executive director of International Center of Photography in New York City

May 03, 2012

Kevin C. Quinn
(315) 443-8338

Mark Robbins, dean of Syracuse University's School of Architecture and senior adviser on architecture and urban initiatives at the University, has been named executive director of the International Center of Photography (ICP), as announced by the ICP board of trustees. Robbins, who since 2004 has served as dean of the School of Architecture, will depart the University and begin his new position at the ICP in New York City on July 1.

The ICP, founded in 1974 as an institution dedicated to photography, occupies a vital and central place in contemporary culture as it reflects and influences social change. Through its educational and community programs, ICP embraces photography’s ability to open new opportunities for personal and aesthetic expression, transform popular culture and continually evolve to incorporate new technologies.

“Mark Robbins has made a tremendous impact not only on the SU School of Architecture, but on SU as a whole and, indeed, on the City of Syracuse,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “With a rare combination of intellect, insight, energy, humor and vision for the potential of design to transform the social fabric, he brought faculty, students, and community partners together as never before. Their collaborative projects from the Warehouse and Connective Corridor to the Near West Side, have put the City of Syracuse ‘on the map’ of metropolitan areas leading the way in leveraging the power of design to restore prosperity—and positioned the school to build on these signature strengths. We’re sad that he is moving on to new challenges, but so happy for him to have this new opportunity in New York.”

“Mark really has been a complete academic leader for the School of Architecture,” says SU Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina. “He fostered cutting-edge research and catalyzed great teaching in the classroom, in the studio, and through reciprocal engagements across urban environments from Syracuse to New York City, London, Florence, and beyond—all of which has prepared a generation of alumni to be leaders in the architecture profession and in their communities. Together, he and the faculty have put the School of Architecture on a superb trajectory by making a strong school even stronger. I know that the deans, faculty and staff join me in wishing the best to our outstanding colleague.”

Spina plans to meet with the Architecture faculty to discuss the dean transition, with the expectation that an interim dean-designate will be identified and that a process to mount an international dean search will be initiated.

“My time here has been rewarding both personally and professionally,” says Robbins. “The past eight years have been a period of growth and change at the University and the School of Architecture. The School has been recognized for its intellectual breadth and deep engagement in the city of Syracuse and in the global arena. Chancellor Cantor has been an unwavering partner and champion of the work of the School. Our student body is diverse, talented and with the curiosity and skill to frame their world, and the commitment of our faculty and staff is a hallmark of the School. New leadership will emerge to forge another chapter in our distinguished history. It has been a privilege to work with so many talented and committed colleagues, and I will miss seeing the next phase unfold at close range. But as a former dean, I will always have an eye on the School and its satellites.”

Robbins' tenure as the ninth Architecture dean is most notably marked by the school's ascending quality (since 2005, the school has more than doubled its applications, which now represent 55 countries) and his dedication to the critical social engagement between SU, Architecture students and the City of Syracuse.  Several leading architectural publications have recognized Robbins' leadership in positioning the school as both as an incubator and key collaborator for design and development in the city of Syracuse.

In leading several initiatives between SU and the city, Robbins has involved students of all disciplines in issues of collaborative design focused on art and design, technology and sustainability, and how students can address the national challenges of transforming older industrial cities. Architecture students have worked to construct and modify homes and propose new landscape neighborhood plans, and vacant warehouses on the city's Near Westside have become national models of how students, architects and artists can transform  unused urban places into new, vibrant spaces.

Recently, Architect Magazine recognized Robbins' vision to transform three vacant and forgotten residential sites on Syracuse's Near Westside into sustainable, energy-efficient homes as part of the "From the Ground Up: Innovative Green Homes" international design competition. In 2008, Robbins created the collaboration among SU, Home HeadQuarters Inc. and the SyracuseCoE to involve architects, students and the community in developing affordable single family homes that few cities have seen. The resulting built homes—designed by award-winning firms including ARO, Cook + Fox and Onion Flat—incorporate the most advanced thinking about design, sustainability and cost-effective building practices for single-family residences, and continue to demonstrate the value of design within underserved and demographically diverse communities. In 2011, the renovated "From the Ground Up" properties were recognized with the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® certification for high-performance and sustainable design, construction and operation.

In 2008, Robbins was also appointed the University's senior adviser for architecture and urban initiatives, helping SU plan for collaborative design and architecture in the City of Syracuse and bringing innovative design into the strategy of the University's building and revitalization projects. Serving as SU's liaison with city and county authorities and representing the senior administration on matters of urban initiatives and campus planning, Robbins advised on projects including the Connective Corridor and several Near Westside Initiative developments that have revitalized business and living in the area.

Robbins was also instrumental in the move to establish a University presence in the heart of downtown Syracuse through the renovation of the West Fayette Street Warehouse. Today, the Warehouse provides the urban setting for Architecture students to study and explore the natural and historic designs of a city. The 140,000 square-foot Warehouse is also the home of UPSTATE: A Center for Design, Research and Real Estate as part of the School of Architecture, and frequently hosts events and projects that address the critical issues of urban revitalization.

Robbins is a recipient of the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome; grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA and the Graham Foundation; and artist fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has been a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2003) and the McDowell Colony (1990 and 2003), among other residencies.

A frequent juror, visiting critic and lecturer on issues pertaining to art and design, Robbins also received the 2008 American Institute of Architects New York Educators Award.

For more information on the ICP, visit:

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