Seminars and Workshops

Design Futures: New York City
(Elective seminar)

How does design operate in our lives? What is our design culture? In this course students will examine the many scales of design in contemporary culture - from graphic design to architecture to urban design to global, interactive, and digital design. The format of this course moves between lectures, discussions, and collaborative design work to field trips in order to engage in the topic through texts and experiences. The work of the course involves discussion, writing, visual commentary, and group design projects.

SYLLABUS (Spring 2017): Prof. Frederick Tang (PDF)

SYLLABUS (Fall 2017): Prof. Marcelo Lopez-Dinardi (PDF)

SYLLABUS (Spring 2018): Prof. Frederick Tang (PDF)


Curating Architecture
(Elective history/theory project-based seminar)

The word to curate derives from Latin and referred to someone invested with the care of souls. It later came to mean a caretaker of objects who engages in “objectivity” and in conservation. Today we think of a curator as someone who organizes and oversees ideas and information. Yet the act of curating extends well beyond the institutional boundaries of the museum or gallery. A curator organizes exhibitions but also competitions, symposia, or public events; publishes article and book; launches web sites and blogs; gives seminars and lectures in the university. Rather than simply collect or preserve, a curator is actively involved in the production of meaning.This class will examine curating practices in relation to architectural exhibitions and publications. We will look at exhibitions, pavilions, installations, magazines, journals, boogazines, websites, and blogs (among others) not only as mecha- nisms for presenting and distributing information but also as sites of production of ideas and discourse. In other words, these media will be seen as an integral part of architectural theory and practice.

SYLLABUS (Fall 2016): Prof. Irina Verona (PDF)

SYLLABUS (Fall 2017): Prof. Irina Verona (PDF)


Environmental Visualizations of NYC: Toxic Territories and Future Possibilities
(Elective history/theory project-based seminar)

The goal of this seminar + workshop course is to develop new visual representations of the impact of environmental issues on New York City. The course will focus on two catastrophic events and sites: Greenpoint Oil Spill (1978), Newtown Creek; and Hurricane Sandy (2012), Lower Manhattan; and examine related toxic histories, environmental damage, impacted communities, clean-up and protection efforts and planning and design possibilities. Resourcing historical maps, on-site documentation and future design proposals, the class will explore environmental crises and their impact on the built environment and on the social, cultural and political life of the city. Based on this research, students will use digital mapping techniques, 360 video, and AR (augmented reality) technologies to create compelling experiential, spatial, analytical, critical, and reflective reconstructions of catastrophic events and remediation.

SYLLABUS (Spring 2018): Prof. Kadambari Baxi, Prof. Karen Fairbanks (PDF)


Special Topics: NYC Crowdscape Cartographies: Drawing The City Beyond Buildings
(Elective history/theory project-based seminar)

This seminar will investigate new forms of drawing the city. It is a course for making, experimenting and collectively thinking about representational techniques that enable us to analyze the city in new ways. As a hybrid course examining both theory and practice, the course includes seminar-style discussions, field trips, and drawing workshops. In this course, students will discuss the work of other architects to learn from their drawing processes and discourse; sstudents will also explore and experience the city through readings, conversations and site visits; and, most importantly, students will draw and draw. This class will encourage fearlessness toward a blank sheet of paper, fostering an attitude that promotes research through the simultaneous actions of thinking and drawing. Together, students will draw some of the most iconic places in New York City and then incorporate individual drawings into the construction of collaborative drawings; experimenting with systems of representation that embrace shared research goals and participatory action as a new way to archive and draw our cities.

SYLLABUS (Spring 2018): Prof. Ana Penalba (PDF)


Special Topics: Platforms, Sites, And Apps
(Elective history/theory project-based seminar)

This course will identify contemporary cultural myths and the digital networks in which they operate. Students will probe architecture’s dual role as participant in the making of myth and product of the mythologies of today. Myth relies on repetition and circulation. Using the algorithmic methods and tools of contemporary web development, this class will analyze existing myths—and propagate new ones—as it upgrades and reboots traditional means of architectural representation.

SYLLABUS (Fall 2017): Prof. Farzin Lotfi-Jam (PDF)


Special Topics: Program-Performance-Occupation
(Elective history/theory project-based seminar)

This course seeks to explore architecture’s occupations as a critical component of disciplinary discourse and practice. While architectural projects have been many times understood as stable and autonomous objects when considering the way they advance authorial intentions and anticipate expected transformations, the course will focus on how architecture operates in relation to changing and heterogeneous actors and practices performed through their occupation. In fact, after their design, architectural structures are appropriated by diverse individuals and at times dissident collectives; they channel different institutional agendas; they are mobilized with different meanings for changing audiences; and they manage overlapping material processes. Different to other ways of regarding architecture’s use or inhabitation, occupation suggests an active appropriation of a space and its transformation. Students in this class will seek to demystify the relationship between architectural projects and the buildings’ occupations, exploring their performance and their significance expanding beyond architects’ intentions by critically revising the tradition of post-occupancy evaluations.

SYLLABUS (Fall 2017): Prof. Ignacio Galan (PDF)


Senior Seminar: Architectural Criticism
(Note: One senior senior seminar is required for all majors. Seminars are offered every semester.)

This seminar investigates the criteria for judging architecture and urban design in the last 150 years in America. In doing so, the class will explore the values (such as functionalism, organicism), principles (compositional, contextual, etc.) and intellectual thought (such as idealism, positivism, phenomenology, structuralism, and post-structuralism) that shaped the criteria for evaluating the buildings. Seminar students will criticize the written results in order to arrive at an understanding about how architectural criticism could be improved. The focus is on “applied” criticism in magazines and newspapers, where the buildings are evaluated according to criteria derived from theoretical principles peculiar to a certain time. During the seminar students analyze the critical essays to isolate those principles and criticize their effectiveness, while placing them within historical and philosophical frameworks. At the end of the semester, students themselves will criticize a contemporary work of architecture in New York for a seminar presentation.

SYLLABUS (Fall 2016): Prof. Suzanne Stephens (PDF)

SYLLABUS (Fall 2017): Prof. Suzanne Stephens (PDF)


Senior Seminar: Utopia and Counter-Utopia
(Note: One senior senior seminar is required for all majors. Seminars are offered every semester.)

The course examines the rich tradition of utopian thinking in architecture, urban planning and the visual arts. In this seminar, utopia is explored in its modern form: as a call to transform the world through human planning and ingenuity. The purpose of the course is to better understand the role that the utopian imagination has played in the construction of social practices, the development of urban and social planning models, and technologies of power. At the end of the course, students present slideshows of their vision of a utopia or dystopia for our time.

SYLLABUS (Spring 2018): Prof. Ralph Ghoche (PDF)


Senior Seminar: Architecture's Global Territories
(Note: One senior senior seminar is required for all majors. Seminars are offered every semester.)

This seminar considers architecture’s articulation with modern and contemporary geopolitical transformations; developing regimes of circulation of people, goods, and information; and changing realities broadly considered under the paradigm of globalization. Students in this course will seek to develop new understandings of architecture’s relationship with place and context adequate to this new paradigm—a relationship that has many times been simplified within disciplinary discourse and that lends itself as a fascinating area for expanded inquiry. The seminar will particularly consider the different orders organizing these territories within which architecture operates (from diplomacy to tourism, from preservation to humanitarianism and environmentalism), as well as the diverse figures consolidating the transactions that it mediates: networks, borders, and camps. Student’s research and writing will explore the expanded forms of practice developed to intervene in those territories and processes.

SYLLABUS (Spring 2018): Prof. Igancio Galan (PDF)