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Michael Sorkin

New York, USA
1 of 6Chenxing Zhao

Michael Sorkin (August 2, 1948 – March 26, 2020) was perhaps the most important urbanist and architectural thinker in the world today. As a writer and critic, and as author of hundreds of influential essays on wide ranging themes, he has been a tremendous force in the ethics and practice of contemporary architecture. Michael Sorkin was also Principal of the Michael Sorkin Studio, a global design practice working at all scales with a special interest in the city and green architecture; President and founder of Terreform, a non-profit institute dedicated to research into the forms and practices of just and sustainable urbanism; and Co-President of the Forum and Institute for Urban Design. He was also Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at City College of New York.

Urban Planning

His Studio in New York City focuses primarily on professional practice in the urban public realm. Sorkin designed environmental projects in Hamburg, Germany, and proposed master plans for the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and the Brooklyn waterfront and Queens Plaza in New York City. His urban studies have been the subject of gallery exhibits, and in 2010, he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters award in architecture. Sorkin presented regularly at regional, national, and international conferences, and he served as adviser and juror on numerous professional committees, including The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, The Aga Khan Trust for Culture's Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Chrysler Design Award, the New York City Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture, Architectural League of New York, and in the area of design writing and commentary, for Core 77.

Academic Career

Sorkin held positions of professor of urbanism and director of Institute of Urbanism of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna from 1993 to 2000. Sorkin also held the Hyde Chair at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Architecture, the Davenport Chair at Yale University School of Architecture, and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Eliel Saarinen Visiting Professorship, University of Michigan. He has been a guest lecturer and critic at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, University of Illinois: Urbana Champaign, Aarhus School of Architecture, Copenhagen, Denmark, and the London Consortium.

Dedicated to architectural education for social change, Sorkin oversaw fieldwork in distressed environments such as Johannesburg, South Africa and Havana, Cuba. He co-organized "Project New Orleans" with collaborators Carol McMichael Reese and Anthony Fontenot, to support post-Katrina in 2008, Sorkin was appointed Distinguished Professor of Architecture of the City University of New York.


Sorkin had a broad career as an architecture writer. He wrote on the topics of contemporary architecture and urban dynamics, along the dimensions of environmentalism, sustainability, pedestrianization, public space, urban culture, and the legacy of modernist approaches to urban planning. He was a member of the International Committee of Architectural Critics. For ten years, Sorkin was architecture critic for The Village Voice, and he wrote for Architectural Record, The New York Times, The Architectural Review, Metropolis, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal, Architectural Review, and The Nation.

New York, USA
Bostjan, January 8th, 2021