The Dean's Letter

February 8, 2021

The Time it Takes

Dear AAP Community—
Welcome back, everyone. 

Well into the new year, we return to a new semester and a new landscape ahead of us. While we also faced an incredible amount of newness last fall — this spring, we have the distinct advantage of hindsight as we navigate the months ahead. We come back to our studies, work, and community with what we have experienced, shared, and learned. Together, we have seen what we can do, not only to take on our own most immediate challenges but to collectively bear the challenges of our shared world. Perhaps the poet Mary Oliver offered words to ground us when she said, "things take the time they take." Over the past year, we took on many things. We broadened our perspectives, and we sharpened our focus; we spoke up, and we listened; we committed to taking the time it takes to work toward lasting and impactful change. From racial justice and social equity, to climate action and sustainability, to public health and urban challenges, our community has come together across disciplines to catalyze change well beyond ourselves and our campus.

Many of AAP's spring classes draw vectors in and vectors out to what we might call 'wicked, real-world problems' that are in urgent need of continued research, engagement, and design. For example, CRP will offer timely classes that address urbanism and planning issues in cities from Cleveland to Shanghai, as well as those that address topics from affordable housing to data science. Additionally, CRP and Real Estate's parallel lecture programs include conversations with New York State Senator John Sanders, who will discuss the challenges of his district in Queens, NY; and Donnell Baird of the Brooklyn-based startup, BlocPower. Architecture's spring studios and symposia will investigate topics reaching from disparities in the Global South to the geography of racial justice in Upstate New York to the Politics of Building in a Climate Crisis. Art will open timely discourse with creative and critical practices across media and invites prolific artist Catherine Opie as the inaugural John Cooper lecturer, among other artists, including the Teiger mentor, Candace Lin; and Sarah Jimenez, the Tenaglia family lecturer.

I would also like to highlight a few cross-disciplinary collaborations in the college and university. New Classes that bring ideas and expertise together across domains include Queer Space / Queering Space taught by faculty from each of our three departments; Development without Displacement, led by Ernst Valery (MPA '01, BS URS '00) that intersects CRP and Real Estate; and Felix Heisel's class, The Circular Economy: The Business and Science of Construction, taught across Architecture and the Johnson School of Business. These, among other courses, create new opportunities for collaborations that deepen our engagement with multi-faceted problems and aggregate our contributions that make broad and meaningful impacts on the world.

Beyond the Ithaca campus, thanks to opportunities created with virtual instruction, our Rome-based faculty will teach classes open to students across the college. These include a class on the study of Rome in the context of the larger Mediterranean, and on the city as seen through a cinematic lens, among several others. The generous $10M gift from Art Gensler and the Gensler family allows us to continue to provide exceptional and immersive opportunities for our students at The Gensler Family AAP NYC Center. This spring, Stella Betts of Leven Betts Studio and Florian Idenburg of SO-IL will teach architecture studios; and Cynthia Davidson, founding editor of Log will lead a seminar. AAP will also continue our collaborations with Cornell Tech and their Urban Tech Hub this semester. Students across campuses will take a recently updated GIS/data science class (CRP), and a new Urban Design Strategies and Case Studies class that partners with Information Science.

Lastly, this spring's Preston Thomas Memorial Symposium examines questions of race and racism in the United States, looking closely at reparation architecture. The symposium is curated and organized by architect and visiting critic Paulo Tavares, whose work examines conflict and space across global concepts of territory; and Sean Anderson, associate curator for art and design at MoMA. Anderson co-curated the upcoming exhibition Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America (with Professor Mabel O. Wilson, Columbia University; former curatorial assistant Arièle Dionne-Krosnick; and Anna Burckhardt, current curatorial assistant in architecture and design). The exhibition will be open from February 20–May 31 and features work by AAP alumni Sekou Cook (B.Arch. '99), Olalekan Jeyifous (B.Arch.'00), and Amanda Williams (B.Arch '97).

As we continue to program an extensive series of critical conversations that expand our thinking and disciplines, I would like once again to shine a light on the entire AAP community. Our faculty, students, staff, alumni, friends, and extended community make all we do at AAP possible. Thanks to your dedication and commitment, we have adapted and responded thoughtfully to compounding challenges that confront and define us, our work, and our disciplines.

Last fall set us on a course with few assurances as to where it might lead. We moved forward anyway. This spring, we return ready to ardently face the urgencies of now, and resolved to take the time it takes to make meaningful change at all scales. We move forward — if not entirely anew, then again — and, together.



J. Meejin Yoon
Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of Architecture, Art, and Planning


Contact Office of the Dean

129 Sibley Dome
Phone: (607) 255-9110
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Previous Letters from the Dean

"Knowledge at its best"

January 22, 2024

Sharing Gratitude

December 14, 2023

Hope for the Possible

August 21, 2023
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