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Justin Townsend to Chair NYU Tisch Design Department

The Tony-winning lighting and set designer will succeed Susan Hilferty in the role.

NEW YORK CITY: NYU Tisch School of the Arts has announced that Justin Townsend will lead the Department of Design for Stage and Film as chair starting in August 2022, and will join the faculty immediately. A Tony-winning educator and international designer who has designed more than 250 shows throughout his 25-year career, Townsend will continue the legacy of renowned costume designer Susan Hilferty, who has guided the program for more than 20 years to the outstanding reputation that it holds today. Hilferty will remain on the faculty.

Justin Townsend.

“NYU Tisch is the envy of the design world,” said Townsend in a statement. “The range of prolific alumni and educators and the sheer talent of the students make this a program I have admired for decades. I am deeply honored by this opportunity.

“We are in a critical and thrilling moment for design education,” he continued. “Designers are uniquely suited to meet moments of cultural change; we think about story, audience experience, character arc, world building, and evoking an audience’s radical imagination. Technologies and aesthetics we can’t yet imagine are coming, and at NYU Tisch, a designer can link their art and growing craft with these emergent forms.”

Townsend’s professional lighting design work includes such productions as Moulin Rouge! The Musical (for which he won the Tony); Jagged Little Pill; American Psycho; The Humans; Here Lies Love; Vietgone; Pretty Filthy; Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play; Milk Like Sugar; Odyssey; A Winter’s Tale; Venus; Unnatural Acts; Mother Courage; and Galileo. As a creative director, Justin collaborated with Grammy-winning recording artist Drake, designing a 50-foot-tall replica of the top of the CN Tower for Drake’s OvO Fest in Toronto. Set design work includes designs on and Off-Broadway as well as in the regional theatre. Justin received an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design in 2014.

Since 1966, alumni of Tisch’s Design for Film and Stage have included set, costume, lighting and film designers Beowulf Boritt, Mark Bridges, Maria-Cristina Fusté, Molly Hughes, Mimi Lien, Bradley King, Clint Ramos, Paul Tazewell, and many more.

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