Ethan Lu is a licensed architect and a LEED-accredited professional specializing in interior architecture. He has worked at the leading sustainable architecture firms FXFOWLE and Cook + Fox and is currently the principal and co-founder of Metropolitan United Studio, an environmentally responsible design firm based in New York City and Seoul. At NYSID, Lu is the director of post-professional programs and program director of the MPS in Sustainable Interior Environments program. He also teaches a number of classes including Introduction to Sustainability and the Built Environment, and Advanced Graphic Communication I.
What kind of students does the MPS in Sustainable Interior Environments attract?
The program was designed to cater to the working professional with all classes offered in the evenings and on weekends. Right now, more than a third of our students work full-time and many more work part-time. Everyone in the program has practiced interior design or an allied profession at some point. We have a landscape architect, lots of architects, and, of course, interior designers. We also attract many international students who want to study interior design in the U.S. It’s nice to have that diversity of backgrounds and experience.
How does NYSID’s program compare to other sustainable design programs?
Many sustainability programs are very science-based and don’t really focus on designing beautiful spaces. NYSID’s program is design-studio based, with a combination of studio and technical courses. The truth is that sustainable projects are often aesthetically challenged, since many engineers don’t have the design experience and interior designers don’t have the background in science. We are trying to change that with the MPS program and balance science and technology with aesthetics. It’s a one-year program, so it’s pretty intense. In the first semester, the students learn about the basics and fundamentals of sustainable design—the principles, theory, and history. In the second semester it gets more technical, with courses on environmental engineering, lighting, and sustainable hard and soft goods. And then all that information gets applied to studio projects.
As director of post-professional programs, can you talk a little about the range of the College’s graduate programs?
When I came to NYSID in early 2010, there were something like 60 graduate students; now there are 150. This big jump is directly related to the new programs that have been launched over the past few years—the professional-level MFA (MFA-1), the MPS in Interior Lighting Design, and the MPS in Healthcare Interior Design, and, of course, this sustainable design program. The new Graduate Center is a wonderful learning environment for all of our graduate students. The space is beautifully designed, has the latest computer software, and is certified LEED-Platinum. What more could you ask for?