Francis Kéré commencement keynote address

Francis Kéré commencement keynote address

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

From left: Francis Kéré. Photo: Astrid Eckert; Do Ho Suh. Photo: Daniel Dorsa; Walter Hood. Photo: Adrienne Eberhardt

April 11, 2023
Francis Kéré commencement keynote address
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
20 Washington Place
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
United States

Kéré will accept an honorary degree along with designer Walter Hood and artist Do Ho Suh.

On Saturday, June 3, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will award degrees to 531 undergraduate and 278 graduate students at its 140th Commencement ceremony. Commencement 2023 will take place at 9am ET at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in downtown Providence followed by a community reception at Market Square to toast the Class of 2023. For more information on RISD’s 2023 Commencement and to view the ceremony streaming live on June 3, visit

RISD will present three honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees to visionaries in contemporary culture. Architect Francis Kéré will accept an honorary degree and deliver the keynote address. Designer Walter Hood and artist Do Ho Suh (RISD 94 Painting) will also accept honorary degrees at the ceremony.

Reunion Weekend will be held June 1–4 in conjunction with Commencement Weekend. Reunion activities celebrate all things RISD while bringing the alumni community together and welcoming its newest members, the Class of 2023. Public events include RISD Craft and WaterFire on June 3, and updates and details are available at here.

Francis Kéré honorary degree recipient & keynote speaker
Francis Kéré is an internationally renowned Burkinabè architect and the 2022 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. He is recognized for his pioneering approach to design and sustainable modes of construction. He became an architect because of his commitment to serving the community he grew up in and his belief in the transformative potential of beauty.

In 2004, Kéré’s first building—the Gando Primary School—was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In 2005 he founded his architectural practice as well as the Kéré Foundation e.V., a nonprofit that pursues projects in Gando.

Since then, Kéré and his team have completed projects across four continents, including the Burkina Faso National Assembly, the Léo Surgical Clinic and Health Centre and the Serpentine Pavilion. Underpinning his architectural work are his past and present teaching engagements at TU München, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio and Yale University, as well as his participation in such exhibitions as the Venice Biennale of Architecture and Primary Elements at the Museo ICO in Madrid.

Walter Hood honorary degree recipient
Walter Hood is the creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, California, a cultural practice focused on art, fabrication, design, landscape, research and urbanism. He is also the David K. Woo Chair and Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, and a recipient of the 2017 Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Award, a 2019 Knight Foundation Public Spaces Fellowship, a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2019 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize and—most recently—the 2021 United States Artists Fellowship.

Hood creates urban spaces that resonate with and enrich the lives of current residents while also honoring communal histories. He melds architectural and fine arts expertise with a commitment to designing ecologically sustainable public spaces that empower marginalized communities. He has transformed traffic islands, vacant lots and freeway underpasses into spaces that challenge the legacy of neglect in urban neighborhoods.

Hood Design Studio’s award-winning work has been featured in such publications as Dwell, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company and Architectural Digest.

Do Ho Suh honorary degree recipient
Do Ho Suh (RISD 94 Painting) works across diverse mediums, including drawing, film and sculpture, to confront questions of memory, psychic space and displacement. Born in South Korea, Suh studied at Seoul National University and later moved to the US to study at RISD and Yale. His work draws attention to how we inhabit the public space around us. Many of his pieces defy standard notions of scale.

His work is featured in collections worldwide including MoMA, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; and Tate, London. He was the recipient of the 2017 Ho-Am Prize and represented Korea at the Venice Biennale in 2001 and the Architecture Biennale in 2018. Recent solo shows have been presented at MCA Sydney (2022), LACMA, Los Angeles (2019); V&A, London (2019); Museum Voorlinden (2019) and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington (2018). Suh lives and works in London, UK.

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Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
April 11, 2023

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