Elective Classes and Option Studios

Elective classes will be available in August.

Fall 2019 Option Studios

ARCH 4101/4102/5101/7112

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‘The Earthly Paradise with the Fall of Adam and Eve’, Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Brueghel

The Earthly Paradise with the Fall of Adam and Eve, Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel.

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(Co)Exist

  • Instructor: Beat Huesler, Tom McKeogh, Chad Oppenheim
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20-4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

We are the most connected species to roam this planet, possessing the technological ability to instantaneously experience the world beyond our physical limits. We are also the most disconnected, alienated from each other and our habitat. Our ancestors were said to live in a sublime utopia, in harmony with nature. For the last 5,000 years, this utopia has given way to an increasingly hostile coexistence. Man has sought to dominate, manipulate, and exploit the natural world, departing ever further away from an earthly paradise. (Co)Exist addresses man's increasingly adversarial and unsustainable relationship with the natural world.

As the number of humans on the planet exceeds 7.5 billion, technological advancements facilitate the efficient exploitation of nature at an industrial scale — all in the name of progress. If we do not create countermeasures to combat the cartel of destructive forces harming our planet, the future will be less habitable for our species. (Co)Exist will recalibrate the notion of destruction through construction, and craft experiences that connect us more viscerally with the world around us.

Future Primitive

The studio will disrupt established and contemporary structures, hierarchies, and systems. Our site, on the barrier island of Virginia Key, is ripe for reinvention. A protected ecological treasure, the once romantic island is home to the largest wetland mangrove in the state, but also 125 acres of landfill and the antiquated Central District Treatment Plant, built in 1953. Nothing is safe. We will mine crumbling edifices for future potential, invert creaking bureaucracies and liberate a potential new society, conceived with the land not on it, striking new synergies with emerging ecosystems and new economies for the next age of human existence.

Studio Methodology

The studio's methodological approach will oscillate between techniques of earthly, experiential model-making — enhanced and informed by four-dimensional drawing — and animated simulation. The studio includes a field trip* (September 21–29) to Miami, Virginia Key, and selected architecture and (natural) phenomena of the region.

*$500 field trip contribution per student is required.

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A composite of five images of drawings of plant stages, plaster fasts, and tools

Top left: intermediate plant stages, Metamorphosis of Plants (Goethe); top right: fabric form plaster casts (Naomi Frangos studio); bottom: Fig Machine, production/detail (Naomi Frangos).

ARCH 4101/4102/5101/7112
Coevolutionary Archetypes

  • Instructor: Naomi Frangos
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

In his 1790 treatise on botany, Metamorphosis of Plants, Wolfgang von Goethe's scientific understanding of "dynamic archetypes" focused on transformation and evolution rather than fixed forms and species. In current parametric design trends, this ideology can be seen as analogous to custom repetitive manufacturing of architectural or structural components or assemblies that aim to achieve variability in production, often for aesthetic results. The challenge remains to balance cost-efficiency and reusable effectiveness while maintaining design inquiry embedded in the technique itself.

Inspired by phenomena found in nature, this research-creation, fabrication-based studio explores symbiotic relationships and metamorphic states in the making process through coevolutionary and generative relationships between transformable molds and cast elements. As casting is no longer a process of replication (Chandler, 2017), employing this technique offers opportunities for both form-finding and form-making to occur. Tools and processes are informed by experiments in metal, plaster, concrete, ceramics, or glass, blending analog and digital modalities to revive humanism in the machine, and allowing for material intuition to have agency — with craft at the core.

Small-scale iterative studies test the limits and possibilities of materiality without a predetermined final scale in mind. Focusing primarily on the design of formwork that is transformable shifts the formal dialogue to include both positive and negative realms. One-to-one prototypical generations of forms are produced that can exist as individual serial or relatable details, or aggregate as an architectural structure/surface. The group work comes together as a curated installation, placing the archetypes in dialogue with site-specific installations inside, around, or just outside the school to create a spatial experience composed of fragments. When moving through the building, their memory is experienced as a whole.

Familiarity with 3D modeling software is highly desirable. Prior shop knowledge and successful safety training is required. A field trip(s) to Corning may occur sometime during the week of September 21–29.

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black and white geometric figure with a black rectangle in a white box above it

Babel, from Citizens of No Place (Jimenez Lai, 2012).

ARCH 4101/4102/5101/7112
Exquisite Corpse: A Whole with Many Parts

  • Instructor: Jimenez Lai, Mark Acciari
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

This studio examines a large mixed-use architecture — a building that contains multiple worlds within it. By subdividing this large building into parts, we can produce an architecture with character both on the outside and on the inside.

Students are asked to consider design at all scales, "from spoons to cities," so the saying goes. This range of design demands that the architect has a comprehensive understanding of human culture. Another way of framing this is the notion of Gesamtkunstwerk, or "total work of art" — a design ambition in which the architect fully anticipates the choreography of social dynamics within his or her designs. As such, design is not just a creation of hardware (architecture), but also a creation of software (culture).

In this studio, we will establish a part-to-whole understanding of the project. The "whole" being a collection of cities inside of a building, a mixed-use structure we will call a phalanstery. The "parts" being prefectures or jurisdictions that should each have their own architectural, economic, and sociopolitical agendas. Apart, this is a city of cities, but, when recombined together, this city becomes one oversized building with subpockets of plural cultures within it. Akin to a surrealist Exquisite Corpse, each individual jurisdiction will take on their own "thesis."

The site for this studio is Taipei, a city with high density and a housing shortage. Resultantly, people build (often illegal) buildings on top of buildings. We are proposing to formalize this approach by adding buildings onto an existing block in Taipei and studying its implications.

Through the lens of set theory, we will consider how superimpositions, differences, mergers, and other mathematical sets impact the architecture spatially, materially, structurally, and programmatically. We will also study the existence and formation of subcultures at the site.

Visiting Critic Jimenez Lai will be in Ithaca for visits on the following dates: August 30, September 13–16, October 11–14, October 30–November 1, November 13–15, and December 6 (or final review) and will also participate in the September 21–29 field trip* to Taiwan. Visiting Critic Mark Acciari will collaborate in the studio on a full-time basis in Ithaca.

*$500 field trip contribution per student is required.

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a gridded wall with a desk and circular reflective tool on it

The Deckhouse, John Young, London 1980-90.

ARCH 4101/4102/5101/7112
Home

  • Instructor: Luben Dimcheff
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20-4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

The studio will investigate the evolving notions of domesticity and will propose a critical and creative redefinition of Home, and, more specifically, of the house as a formative building archetype.

Conceptual constructs of the reimagined new domestic will be developed initially as purely siteless propositions, focused on the rituals of habitation; then to be understood not only as personal reflections on self-identity but also as much broader statements probing the relationship between home and society, culture, and politics. These projective models will be submitted in early October to the international Home Competition.

In the second half of the semester, those original concepts of Home will be developed into tectonic, material form, and spatial realities, to be tested on radical sites varying in location, context, and climate. The architectural design, framed by critical examination of Home, will also advance our understanding of site, materiality and light, spatial atmosphere, and the human experience.

This studio is based in Ithaca.

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Five topographical map sections

Geological Sections Through Trinidad, by H. G. Kugler, 1959. The Petroleum Association of Trinidad, 1961.

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Landscapes of Extraction: Climate Change and the Urban Infrastructure of Oil in Trinidad & Tobago

  • Instructor: Tao DuFour
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20-4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

This studio will explore the industrialized and urbanized landscapes of oil and gas extraction on the island of Trinidad in the southern Caribbean. Petroleum and other hydrocarbon deposits within geological strata of the island and its coastal waters were discovered in the 19th century when Trinidad was a British colony; as early as 1866 the world's first continually producing oil well was drilled in the south of the island. Today, Trinidad and Tobago is the primary oil and natural gas producers in the Caribbean, with one of the largest natural gas processing facilities in the Western Hemisphere located on the west coast of Trinidad. As a significant producer and consumer of hydrocarbons, the island is implicated in climate change; at the same time, however, as a small island developing state whose patterns of settlement and urbanization are primarily coastal, it is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change, specifically the interrelated phenomena of global warming, sea-level rise, and environmental hazards of weather — increasing frequency and severity of storms and hurricanes. Through interdisciplinary research methods — drawing on architecture, urbanism, geography, and ecology — the studio proposes to interrogate the overlapping territories of urbanized and industrialized landscapes of oil and gas production along the west coast of Trinidad, in order to discover and describe their complexity, and project possibilities for design in the face of the urgencies of climate change.

The studio will involve a week-long joint field trip to Trinidad with students in the Mellon Expanded Practice Seminar, titled Atmospheric Pressures: Climate Imaginaries and Migration in the Caribbean, cotaught by Tao DuFour and Natalie Melas and developed in collaboration with Mark Raymond of the Caribbean Collaborative for Architecture and Urbanism, University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. The field trip will take place from September 21–29.

*$500 field trip contribution per student is required.

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painting of a plate with lobster, silver jug, and fruit

Pieter Claesz, Plate with lobster, silver jug, large Berkenmeyer, fruit bowl, violin and books (1641).

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Market Forces

  • Instructor: Kevin Carmody, Andy Groarke, Rodolfo R. Dias
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

Project: Remediating a ruin
Site: The ruins of Smithfield Meat Market, London
Program: Eating and drinking

The project will be set in the context of the rapidly changing relationship we have with the production, consumption, and representation of food within the city and society as a whole. Just like the paintings of the golden age of Dutch still life painting became more an aspirational representation of a lifestyle rather than what one might eat and drink every day (as the boastful Instagram shot of a restaurant meal may do today), our relationship with both the origins and also the enjoyment of food has become abstracted and mediated. The project seeks to speculate about architecture in a way that connects specific and vivid experiences and memories of food to the design of objects, rooms, and buildings.

The studio will take the partially ruined structures of Smithfield Meat Market, one of London's most historically important and prosperous food markets, although now subject to severe economic and physical decline, as the nexus of research. It will develop site-specific proposals for fitting new architectural form and purpose into an evolving physical, historical, and societal situation. Each project will seek alternative futures to the current redevelopment of the meat market into a Museum of London, in a way that instead reconnects this city center site to the experience and enjoyment of the production, distribution, and consumption of food once again.

The project will resist digital forms of representation in favor of making and recording physical models at various scales to develop the formal (urban and architectural), spatial, constructive, and atmospheric ideas about architecture. There will be three exercises in total to format the semester (two individual and one group work).

Andy Groarke will be in Ithaca for a total of four teaching visits (including project introduction and final review) and will be joined by Kevin Carmody for at least one of these visits. Interim fortnight reviews by Andy Groarke and Kevin Carmody will be run by Skype (from London) once per month. Rodolfo R. Dias will teach the studio full time in Ithaca. The field trip* will be to London, September 21–29, and may include visits to relevant projects by Carmody Groarke elsewhere in the U.K.

*$500 field trip contribution per student is required.

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12 photos of geometric or structural details of buildings

Credits in text below.

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Rational Form Finding

  • Instructor: Angela Pang with Guest Lecturer Yoshiyuki Hiraiwa
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20-4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

In pursuit of freedom in aesthetics, the disciplines of architecture and structural design have always worked hand in hand in expanding new possibilities of form finding and space making. Rationality is at the heart of modernism's approach and can be traced back to Vitruvian principles of logic and order of Classical architecture. In the period since World War II, there have been two overarching trajectories in structural design. The first is the gradual reduction of mass, as exemplified in the Domino House and the Miesian language. The other is the transition from clear Euclidian geometries in spatial structures (such as the Pantheon) to a return of
naturalism and free forms.

Optimization precedes superfluous forms. This studio highlights the collaboration between architects and structural designers in exploring new possibilities of form finding. The dominant value in this collaborative relationship has been that of structural rationalism, as expounded upon by the work of Brunelleschi and Viollet-le-Duc. Students will learn from this studio the possibilities of close integration between structural concept and architectural design, contrary to the conventional practice of a linear progress from architect's imagery to structural engineer's implementation.

The main goal of this studio is for students to discover the differences between geometry-based form making versus structurally based rational form finding. Structure is not only a problem-solving process but a key to new possibility in design.

This research-based studio is organized into three parts:

  • Part I is research of major paradigms of form/structure with both historical and more recent precedents. Cases may include Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, Candela's Bacardi Bottling Plant, SANAA and Sasaki's Rolex Learning Center at EPFL, Ishigami and Konishi's KAIT Workshop, Nishizawa and Sasaki's Teshima Art Museum, Siza and Balmond's Portuguese Expo Pavilion, and Ito and Balmond's Taichung Opera house among others.
  • Part II is an experimental workshop. Led by structural engineer Yoshiyuki Hiraiwa, who will join as a guest lecturer, we will conduct a series of experiments through scale models to test structural concepts. Hiraiwa will also offer a series of lectures on principles of structural concept design and its symbiotic relationship with architecture.
  • Part III caps the studio with a design charrette that is based on the work between research information and empirical knowledge. Emphasizing the importance of experimental explorations on new form finding, the project is to design a pavilion on a neutral site on campus.

Photo credits:

  • Top row from left: Mamoru Kawaguchi, Jumbo Koinobori, Kazo 1988; Alvaro Siza and Cecil Balmond, Portugal Expo Pavilion, Lisbon 1998; Cecil Balmond and Anish Kapoor, Marsyas, Tate Modern 2003; Berthold Lubetkin, Penguin Pool, London 1934
  • Middle row from left: Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond, Serpentine Pavilion, London 2002; Shukhov Tower, Vladimir Shukhov, Moscow 1927; Antoni Gaudi, Sagrada Família, Barcelona 1882–current; Buckminster Fuller, Geodesic Dome, Montreal 1967
  • Bottom row: Junya Ishigami and Konishi, KAIT Workshop, Kanagawa 2008; Félix Candela, Narvarte church, Mexico City 1953; SANAA and Mutsuro Sasaki, EPFL Rolex Learning Center, Lausanne 2010; FOA, Yokohama Ferry Terminal, Yokohama 2004

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a painting of a room with bar yellow walls with a doorway into a blue room

Pezo von Ellrichshausen, 71707161201 (2016), oil on canvas, 180 x 240 cm.

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Sand Castle

Despite the current confusion, there are buildings and there are representations of buildings. The former is a physical construction (a material object in a certain context) and the latter a virtual construction (or an intellectual apparatus, an illusion) "about" that physical construction. Of course, there are also representations of sheer architectonic ideas, even of unbuildable dreams. We were told that architecture is no other than the fictional reinvention of mere buildings (sand, air, or black castles). Within this literary license, the studio will tackle the spatial problem of a deep plan (from the topographic extension of a ground floor to the topological distinction between boundary and core). Extending our paradoxical attempts to inhabiting nature, we will further explore the overlap between living and working in the format of a small house with a large library (or vice versa). Thus, buildings will be understood as the temporary custody (and delight) of a vast repository of "vegetal memory" (after Eco). Under the assumption that following a total takeover of digital data, important human knowledge carefully printed on precious volumes will be turned into a collection of rare items (almost with the status of a work of art). The otherwise central social and urban role of the library, for the purpose of the studio's romantic pursuit, will be displaced to a marginal place (to Fire Island, an eroded wilderness trapped between the metropolitan exodus and the ocean's tides). Thus, barely beyond the urban protocols, this priceless collection of books will be an extravagant destination at the seaside. Following our Naïve Intention program (intimate research on the apparent contradiction between intentionality and chance, rationality and futility, prediction and circumstance, authorship and anonymity), every student will elaborate a precise "inventory" of architectonic propositions, a selection of which will be developed through handmade models, drawings, and paintings.

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an overhead view of Rockefeller Center on the left, a scene of street dining on the right

Rockefeller Center.

ARCH 4101/4102/5101/7112
Virtual Places: Real Time Experiential Design and Visualization of Urban Spaces

  • Instructor: Henry Richardson
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20-4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

Taught in collaboration with:

  • Christopher Morse, SHoP Architects
  • Alexandra Pollock, FXCollaborative
  • The Project WREN Team from Epic Games

There is a paradigm shift taking place in architecture and urban design. It is a shift from designing in space-time to creating place and occasion. The former is top-down, relies on masterplans and abstract, conceptual models; the latter is real time, experiential, and immersive. In this fall's studio, we will design virtual urban places using selected urban typologies and immersive virtual reality (VR) tools based on Epic Inc.'s gaming engine. The studio will simultaneously explore two sets of design agendas. The first, urban design, will examine concepts of placemaking and their use in simulating virtual cities. Urban typologies we will study include the street, the plaza or square, urban edges and waterfronts, and green infrastructure drawn from real-world examples as well as fictional environments used in games, movies, and literature. This initial phase of exploration will be followed by the design of a specific, mixed-use, hybrid, urban precinct in a given city.

The second agenda, "tools and methods," will comprise learning and applying VR design and visualization software based on Epic's gaming engine UE4. A special VR studio equipped with computers and VR headsets will support the semester's explorations. Live hands-on workshops and webinars will be offered to "tool up" for the studio. Familiarity with, and basic skills in, CAD are a prerequisite.

There will be no physical travel as in most option studios. Instead, this course will be teleporting and let you virtually experience several famous cities and urban places in real time. A detailed course syllabus, work plan, and bibliography will follow.

This studio is supported by a research grant from Epic Games, equipment from Hewlett Packard Inc., and software licenses from ESRI and Mindesk.

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