The Dean's Letter

June 30, 2020

Following President Pollack's Reactivation Message

Dear AAP students:

I am writing to follow up on the message you received today from President Pollack regarding the university's campus reactivation plan for the upcoming academic year. This fall, we will enter a semester unlike any before — whether on campus in Ithaca, or across continents — I know we will come together with inventiveness, care, and resilience. In studios and classrooms, in-person and online, we will continue the work we do at the level of creative and scholarly excellence that defines AAP.

The university's decision to move forward with integrated residential and virtual instruction was informed by extensive public health research and modeling, as well as four principles: caring for our students; safeguarding our future as a world-class academic institution; maintaining our staffing; and seeking new knowledge. Given the incredible commitment to teaching, learning, and support that was demonstrated across the college this spring, I am confident that this fall we will return to our work, welcome new students, and do so with the care and rigor so essential to our college. Our plans will continue to be guided by our core values and principles both at AAP and across campus.

I understand you may have questions about what the reactivation and reopening plans mean for you and for the college. While we all acknowledge that our plans are subject to change, I can offer the information below about our classes, facilities, and programs. You will also find important college resources and information about department-specific information sessions that will address any questions or concerns you may have.

Over the coming weeks, the university will be developing additional health and safety guidelines for the returning Cornell community and FAQs as more details become available. All of this information will be sent to you and/or posted on the university's  COVID-19 resources page.

I am grateful for the patience, understanding, and flexibility that you, as AAP students, have demonstrated thus far — and, I thank you all for coming together as such a source of strength and hope for the entire AAP community. The months ahead will require us all to continue to innovate our practices and pedagogy, and reimagine how we learn and make new connections. This is our time and our future. We have already seen what our AAP community has to offer each other and the world, and I look forward to all we have yet to do together.



AAP Instructional Modalities: Consistent with the campus reactivation plan, AAP will adopt three instructional modalities this fall: (1) all online; (2) in-person, with remote accessibility into the classroom for students who are off-campus or in quarantine; and (3) hybrid where some elements of the course are delivered online and others in-person, or wherein student cohorts take turns participating remotely versus in-person.

Regardless of the mode of instruction, AAP students will continue to receive rigorous theoretical and experiential training. Their coursework will continue to challenge their creativity, critical thinking, and development of social, ethical, and cultural practice. Regardless of individual physical location, all AAP classes should be accessible to all registered AAP students, allowing students to make degree progress. The primary instructional modality of each course will be indicated in the Class Roster. Students should note the instructional modality at the time of course enrollment.

AAP Facilities in Ithaca: The college is working hard to modify spaces to allow for physically distanced studio, workshop, and classroom learning. To accommodate physical distancing and the maximum number of students allowed in a space, studios may be spread out across our buildings, and studio schedules and access may be modified to meet distancing and occupancy guidelines. We expect fabrication spaces to be accessible, but may be limited in terms of time and number of students in the space at any one time to adhere to health and safety requirements.

Cornell in Rome: Due to university policies on international travel, Italian travel bans to visitors from outside the Schengen region, and visa delays, the normal Cornell AAP Rome semester for B.Arch. and B.F.A. students will be suspended for the fall. Any student who was planning to study in Rome in the fall semester will be eligible for enrollment in classes in Ithaca. B.Arch. students will be provided space in studios and can complete ARCH 3301 in Ithaca; B.F.A. students will be provided space in Art studio courses.

We know that students have been looking forward to their Rome semester for a long time, and many will have questions about a future semester in Rome. Given the uncertainties associated with the current public health crisis and associated travel restrictions, we cannot make any guarantees regarding a future semester in Rome. We understand some students may be considering a leave of absence for fall to position themselves to study in Rome next year. Taking a leave of absence will not guarantee placement in Rome in a subsequent year. Students should make plans for the fall semester based on the information that is known at this time.

AAP NYC: We remain cautiously optimistic that a modified, in-person fall semester will still be possible at AAP NYC. Our ability to run this option is dependent on New York City continuing to make significant progress with its management of COVID-19 as per New York State reopening guidelines, the college's ability to meet the health and safety requirements set forth by the university, New York City and the State of New York, and student demand. In order to meet health and safety requirements, students should expect many of the approaches related to health screening, quarantine/isolation, contact tracing, and the modifications to academic activities and student life that are outlined in the reactivation plan for the Ithaca campus to be applied to AAP NYC. For example, similar to Ithaca, students at AAP NYC should expect to be enrolled in a combination of in-person, online, and hybrid courses. In addition to the core AAP NYC offerings, students will have the opportunity to enroll in online classes offered at the Ithaca campus.

If we are able to run the B.Arch. and M.R.P./URS semester at AAP NYC, those students who had already applied or expressed interest for Fall 2020 will have priority. We will follow up directly with those students with additional information about modified course offerings, content, and programming to inform their decisions. For planning purposes, students will be asked to recommit to the AAP NYC semester by Tuesday, July 7, at which point we will assess demand and determine if there is room to accommodate additional students. Currently, several apartments at the house on Roosevelt Island are reserved for AAP and the ferry remains a mode of transportation from Roosevelt Island to Lower Manhattan. Participation in the fall AAP NYC semester is optional, so students opting out will be eligible to remain enrolled in Ithaca. Please note that given the uncertainties associated with this public health crisis and space constraints at AAP NYC, we cannot make any guarantees regarding an uninterrupted fall semester or any future semester at AAP NYC. Students should make plans for the fall semester based on what is known at this time.

Study Away: In response to international travel restrictions, Cornell University has established agreements with multiple partner schools worldwide to provide study opportunities to international students in those regions and who are not able to travel to Ithaca. Study Away provides international students the opportunity to remain registered as a Cornell university student, make degree progress online while having access to some in-person instruction through the partner school, and tap into a Cornell community of students and alumni at the Study Away site.

At present, we are working to provide AAP-specific opportunities at one or two locations where we expect high AAP enrollment. For example, we are exploring the possibility of securing undergraduate studio space at CET Shanghai at Donghua University. In this case, CET Shanghai would be the preferred study away location for B.Arch. students studying in China. AAP's facility in Rome may become another option for students in the European Union and Schengen area. Undergraduate students who are interested in the Study Away option are encouraged to apply early. Interested graduate students should contact their department contact listed below as soon as possible so we can assess demand and advise on options. We will keep students informed of any AAP-specific Study Away developments.

Architecture: Marte Reps,

Art: René Benda,

City and Regional Planning: Heidi Ingram Berrettini,

College and department information sessions: In order to answer student questions, the AAP Offices of Admissions and Student Services as well as AAP's academic departments are offering virtual information sessions this week. Students will receive follow-up emails with the specific meeting details.

Additional Resources: The most up-to-date and comprehensive resource for information from the university is still the Cornell coronavirus website. In addition, college-specific information can be accessed from the AAP COVID-19 Resources and Updates website.


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.

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