Awards & Honors

Former Dean Piomelli Honored by Carnegie Corporation

M. Rosaria Piomelli, an architect and former dean of architecture at The City College of New York, has been recognized by the Carnegie Corporation of New York as a Great Immigrant.

When Piomelli was appointed architecture dean at City College of New York in 1980, she became the first woman to head an architecture school in the United States. Piomelli worked to open the profession to more women, most notably as director of the American Institute of Architects Equal Opportunity Committee in the 1970s. In 1974, she organized an exhibition featuring the work of women architects across New York City. The New York Times mentioned the exhibition in a story headlined “Female Architects Building Influence in a Profession That Is 98.8% Male.” As Piomelli told the Times, “We have been demanding a piece of the pie.” She remained a faculty member at City College until her retirement in 2004.

Born in Naples, Italy, in 1937, Piomelli attended the Art Institute of Naples and went on to earn two architecture degrees from Italian universities. In 1957 she moved to the United States to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After graduating from MIT, she earned her professional licensure in New York in 1969 and became a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1970. Piomelli worked for several architecture firms in the United States and Europe, including I.M. Pei and Partners, before opening her own firm in 1974. Her best-known projects include the Sciences Library at Brown University, the main library at Oberlin College, and the Pierson School in Tarrytown, New York.

In December 2019, Lesley Lokko, a Scottish-Ghanian architect and writer, will become dean of what is now the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College. The first woman to lead the school since Piomelli, Lokko will join an increasing number of woman deans at U.S. architectural schools in the wake of efforts by Piomelli and her compatriots.

Every Fourth of July, Carnegie Corporation honors Andrew Carnegie’s legacy by celebrating the wide-ranging contributions of immigrants who enrich American communities and culture, strengthen the economy, and invigorate democracy. Scottish immigrant Carnegie, who rose out of poverty to become a major American industrialist and philanthropist, believed that the infusion of talent that immigrants bring to the United States keeps American society vibrant.