By  on April 10, 2007

Pratt Institute is trying to break down the barriers among four different design disciplines.

When the ribbon is cut April 17 for the $5 million Juliana Curran Terian Design Center on the school's Brooklyn campus, students and faculty in fashion, interior and industrial design and communications will be housed together for the first time. Created by Hanrahan Meyers Architects, the center brings together two older buildings to create a 200,000-square-foot complex where students should be able to interact more easily and share ideas.

"We're breaking down the silos between these fields and we're very comfortable with that,'' said Pratt provost Peter Barna, who designed the lighting. "When you go out in the world to work, that's the way it is.…A lot of good business ideas are exchanged around the water cooler.

"In addition, the new setup should make the faculty and students closer — it's the same sort of thing,'' he said. "We believe the space will help shape the program and the people."

Terian, a graduate of the Pratt School of Architecture, made the center a reality with her $5 million gift to the school — the second largest from a living individual in Pratt's 120-year history. The school of architecture will continue to be based in another building. Terian is the founder of Curran Architects and Planners in New York and is the chairman of the Rallye Group, the largest female-owned automobile dealership in the U.S.

"It's important for designers to glimpse more than their own specialization and gain a sense of the larger context in which they're working,'' Terian said. "After all, the great timeless designs — and the most successful — have embodied seamless relationships between disciplines."

The design center's features include state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment to project art installations or film screenings on the building's northern glass exterior at night. A Pratt trustee, real estate developer David Walentas, donated that equipment. The pavilion, which was five years in development, will also have the campus' only gallery devoted to design.

With enrollment near maximum levels, Pratt is more interested in having the center improve the quality of students' work rather than attracting more students, Barna said.

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