L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Toni L. Griffin to Deliver Gulak Lecture on Oct. 25

Photo credit: Noah Kalina
Photo credit: Noah Kalina

By Pamela Stallsmith

Toni L. Griffin, founder of Urban Planning and Design for the American City, will deliver this year’s Morton B. Gulak Lecture in Urban and Regional Planning on Wednesday, October 25, at 7 p.m. in the University Student Commons. The event is free and open to the public.

The title of her lecture is “My Just City of Black and White: Seeking Justice Through Planning and Design.” Registration is strongly encouraged: support.vcu.edu/gulak17

Through her New York City-based practice, Griffin served as project director for the long-range planning initiative of the Detroit Work Project, and in 2013 completed and released Detroit Future City, a comprehensive citywide framework plan for urban transformation. She is currently advising Memphis, Tenn., as it updates the city’s comprehensive plan to address strategies for inclusive growth, equity and neighborhood improvement.

She is professor in practice of urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Griffin is also a professor of architecture and the founding director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. Founded in 2011, the Bond Center is dedicated to the advancement of design practice, education, research and advocacy in ways that build and sustain resilient and just communities, cities and regions.

Among her many other accomplishments, Griffin was the director of community development for Newark, N.J., where she was responsible for creating a centralized division of planning and urban design, launching the city’s complete overhaul of its comprehensive master plan and zoning ordinance. As vice president and director of design for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation in Washington, D.C., she led the planning for the Washington Nationals Ballpark District.

She began her impressive career as an architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, where she was involved in architecture and urban design projects in London and Chicago.

Griffin received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where she also taught. She was also the Visiting Associate Professor and Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Chair in Real Estate Law and Urban Planning in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, and serves on the board of the New York Regional Plan Association.

“We are excited to welcome Toni Griffin as this year’s Gulak lecturer and look forward to a robust discussion about urban planning and design,” said Meghan Gough, Ph.D., chair of the Wilder School’s urban and regional studies and planning program.

The Wilder School brings leading experts in planning, architecture or urban design to VCU each year through the annual Gulak Lecture. Launched in 2013, the lecture series honor the memory of Morton B. Gulak, Ph.D., who helped found the Master in Urban and Regional Planning program more than 40 years ago.

Gulak, who died in 2012, taught at VCU for 38 years. He inspired hundreds of students in the areas of urban design, urban revitalization, physical planning and the application of professional planning methods.