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Cohen, Harold L. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Cohen, Harold L.

Historical Note:

Harold Cohen founded the design department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1955.  He hired several notable art and design professors such as Ray and Charles Eames, Josef Albers, Kenneth Snelson, Harry Callahan, Chermayeff, and others to give seminars or teach for a semester. During this period, Cohen designed housing, modular buildings, and produced tables and a famous chair.  He also directed the Experiment in Higher Education project at SIU, designed the multimedia SIU General Studies Design Course, GSC-205, and designed the SIU disposable laboratory cage.

Cohen is also remembered for bringing R. Buckminster Fuller to SIUC in the 1950s, where he taught until 1971.  Harold Cohen and his wife Mary developed a close relationship with Bucky and his with Anne.  Mary Cohen edited two of Fuller’s major books and many of his articles.

In the mid-sixties, Cohen left Carbondale to join the staff of the Institute for Behavioral Research (IBR) in Washington, D.C. At IBR, Harold was the project director of the Contingencies Applicable to Special Education (CASE) project. The CASE projects (CASE, CASE II, CASE II-MODEL, and CASE Training Institute) developed and tested experimental educational procedures working with a population of delinquent boys at the National Training School for Boys (NTSB) in Washington, D.C.

Cohen went on to teach at Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Behavioral Research in Maryland, among other teaching positions, before becoming Dean of the School of Architectural Planning and Design at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, in 1974.


Linda Levine, "The Intriguing Lives of Mary & Harold Cohen,” Buffalo Spree, July/August 2001, (accessed October 8, 2014).

"Harold Cohen," Design at Southern Illinois University, (accessed October 8, 2014).

Note Author: Abigail Wheetley

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