Ingeborg Rocker Named Chair and William Harrison Professor of the Georgia Tech School of Architecture

Inge Rocker
Photo Courtesy: Ingeborg Rocker/Dassault Systemes

By Ann Hoevel

(Atlanta, GA) Most people know the Georgia Institute of Technology as one of the nation’s research and engineering leaders. According to Ingeborg Rocker, the new chair of Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture, that also makes it the perfect place to study architecture.

“At its core, architecture is trans-disciplinary,” she said, “ranging from vision and design innovation to technical and material realization. It is a unique discipline that can be theoretical, abstract, and discursive while at the same time pragmatic, technical, and material.”

Rocker begins her tenure as Chair and William Harrison Professor of Architecture on September 1, 2022. She will lead the School’s 22 full time faculty members, more than 300 students, and undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate and professional degrees. The School’s undergraduate and Ph.D. programs consistently rank among the best in the nation.

She will open a research lab dedicated to Sustainable Industry Innovation, in addition to the School’s five research labs which link academics and industry through applied research.

“In addition to her deep knowledge of architecture as a scholar, educator, and practitioner, Ingeborg Rocker brings extensive and exciting industry experience and perspectives that will benefit our architecture program immensely, particularly in relation to inter-disciplinary research” said Ellen Bassett, Dean of the College of Design and John Portman Chair

“I believe she will be a catalytic leader and I look forward to working with her.”

Rocker joins Georgia Tech after serving as Vice President for Industry Innovations at Dassault Systèmes, a multinational software company. There she led projects such as sustainable cross-industry innovation, cyber-physical systems in manufacturing and construction, as well as smart city programs like Virtual Singapore.

She holds an Engineering Degree (Dipl. -Ing) from the RWTH Aachen University, an MS in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, and an MA and Ph.D. in Architecture from Princeton University. She was an Assistant and Associate Professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where she directed the International Exchange Program, the Digital media Workshop Series, oversaw 48 master’s theses and headed the MArch 1 Admissions.

Rocker's Vision for Georgia Tech Architecture

Rocker’s vision for the School’s academic programs connects the humanities with the sciences, engineering, art, and design, resulting in what she calls “sustainable design innovation.” This concept of sustainable design innovation progresses from design thinking, in that it is applicable to all disciplines and will help to further advance the digitization and sustainable transformation of their respective industries.

“Our School is uniquely positioned to collaborate with the technical faculties on campus,” Rocker said. “This kind of collaboration gives Georgia Tech architecture students the toolbox necessary for creating architecture that is aware of and responsive to the challenges of the 21st century.”  

“Technology’s rapidly changing landscape and our prevalent economic model’s transformation from linear to circular have prompted significant adaptation for architects,” she said.

The School’s alumni know this all too well and have paved the way, Rocker said, by developing creative and critical design practices. Their work has lasting impacts on the industry, she said, balancing rigorous research and scholarship with responsibility for social, natural, and built environments. “It will be my great pleasure to welcome alumni back to discuss their practices and experiences with our current students.”

“I am especially excited to contribute to the legacy of [Georgia Tech professor emeritus] Chuck Eastman,” says Rocker. “He has been a role model for generations of architects, linking early on computation and architecture.” Eastman is considered by many as the father of Building Information Modeling (BIM), which has paved the way to the digitization of building projects and increased feedback between architects, engineers, and the construction industry.

BIM is the foundation architects use to create “Virtual Twins” of buildings, infrastructures, and cities, which Rocker worked on at Dassault Systèmes. “It’s the complete simulation, from design to the entire lifecycle management and assessment of a building,” she said.

Rocker co-founded Rocker-Lange Architects in 2006, an award-winning architectural practice – a think- and do-tank - focused on research that likewise works across scales on sustainable product design, architecture, and urbanism. She was also lead designer at Eisenman Architects.

Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus is a great advantage for the School, Rocker said, linking the technological and social intensity of the city.

“Our architecture school finds itself in the middle of a national hub for innovation, startup incubation, the tech industry, the media industry, the music industry, and the film industry, we can be the vehicle to host these diverse cultures, and engage with them, learn from them develop with them jointly new modes of design innovation.”

The practice of architecture is absolutely influenced by and influences the lively culture that surrounds it, she said. “We can and will support discussions about design innovation here on campus and in Atlanta.”

“When you think about architecture, the discourse and the masterpieces of architecture, they all extend beyond the object [of the building] into the urban space. They convene the intellectual and physical environment that creates our lifestyle, defines the space, the scale, the way we relate, or even the perception of space and time. It effects our spirit, our mood, our being, of being and feeling at home.”

“The School, along with its exceptional faculty, students, alumni and supporters can help Atlanta to orchestrate the urban scape, re-envision the city structure, and perhaps most importantly create a center, an environment, in which we work, live, and come together as a community that codifies our life quality and behaviors across the urban and rural, through Georgia and the nation.”

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Ann Hoevel
Director of Communications
College of Design
E-mail Ann Hoevel
+1 404-385-0693