Dean Tehrani Elected to American Academy of Arts and Letters

POSTED ON: April 8, 2021


On March 5, 2021 the American Academy of Arts and Letters announced its election of Dean Nader Tehrani as a new member. Tehrani is among a new cohort of twenty-nine members and four honorary members, all of whom will be inducted into the Academy in a virtual awards ceremony on May 19th at 7 p.m. EDT. 

Membership in the Academy is limited to 300 architects, visual artists, composers, and writers who are elected for life and pay no dues. The new members were elected by vote of the existing membership. The honor of election is considered the highest form of recognition of artistic merit in the United States. New members elected in 2021 include architects James Corner, Walter Hood, and Meejin Yoon; artists Mark Bradford, Michael Heizer, and Lorna Simpson; writers Ta-Nehisi Coates, Barbara Kingsolver, and Elizabeth Kolbert; and the musician Wynton Marsalis. New honorary members include Mikhail Baryshnikov and Spike Lee. 

Tehrani was previously a professor of architecture at MIT, where he served as the Head of the Department from 2010-2014. He is also Principal of NADAAA, a practice dedicated to advancing design innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and an intensive dialogue with the construction industry. In 2020, he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize for his contributions to architecture as an art.
Tehrani's work has received many prestigious awards, including the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Award, and 18 Progressive Architecture Awards. Tehrani has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rhode Island School of Design, the Georgia Institute of Technology—where he served as the Thomas W. Ventulett Ill Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design—and the University of Toronto, where he served as the Frank O. Gehry International Visiting Chair in Architecture. He also recently served as the William A. Bemoudy Architect in Residence at the American Academy in Rome, and as the inaugural Paul Helmle Fellow at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 

Tehrani received a BFA and a B.Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and 1986 respectively. He continued his studies at the Architectural Association, in London, where he attended the Post-Graduate program in History and Theory. Upon returning to the United States, Tehrani received a MAUD from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1991.

Photo by Carmen Maldonado AR'23

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.