AAP Launches International Executive Education Program
A contingent of 22 design professionals from China enrolled in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning's first executive education program this summer, taking a series of courses taught by world-renowned architects in New York City and leading AAP faculty in Ithaca.
On June 21, AAP rolled out an intensive nine-day program of design seminars, site tours, and visits to major architectural firms in Manhattan. The participants met key players who have planned and designed landmark architectural projects in New York City such as the World Trade Center, the High Line, and the Time Warner Center.
"This is an international educational institute that brings architects from around the world to an important academic setting to think about the future of the city," said Kent Kleinman, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of AAP.
What made the creation of the program possible was the opening of AAP NYC's new studio space at 26 Broadway in lower Manhattan's financial district in March. The 11,114-square-foot studio afforded a prime location for an educational program where architects from around the world could learn first-hand about the issues, policies, and design practices that shape one of the world's great cities.
"The executive education program is really an opportunity to use our NYC program intensively during the summer as a way to fulfill our mission," said Robert Balder (B.S. URS '89), the Gensler Family Sesquicentennial Executive Director of AAP NYC.
The idea to develop a design institute for executive education was proposed by M. Arthur Gensler (B.Arch. '57), founder of Gensler, the global architecture, design, planning, and strategic consulting firm. At a meeting of the AAP Advisory Council, Gensler suggested that AAP provide "a place where East meets West in the design cultures," Kleinman said.
A group of Advisory Council members rallied behind the idea and provided essential advice and support. "The power of our NYC-based network of design professionals is unparalleled. We could not have done this without them," Kleinman said.
In the spring of 2014, Kleinman traveled to China to present the idea to leaders of several design institutes associated with major universities. A group of Chinese architects and engineers then visited Ithaca to begin collaborating on the initiative.
Zoe Zhou, a structural engineer at Tongji Architectural Design (Group) Co. Ltd., in Shanghai, helped coordinate the program and was among the first group of participants to enroll. During the discussions with AAP leaders last year, Zhou reviewed sample modules of courses the program would offer.
"Because there are many famous architects doing design and development in New York City, we wanted to learn about the whole process, from the engineering to the planning of individual buildings," Zhou said during her visit to Ithaca.
What impressed Lizhi Ren, an architect with Tongji Architectural Design who attended the program, the most was the module on slender residential towers, a new type of skyscraper that is emerging across the Manhattan skyline just South of Central Park. Day five of the program featured a discussion by the architect, engineer, and developer of 53 West 53rd Street, a 1,050-foot-high condominium tower now under construction adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art.
Because building space in Shanghai is also in limited supply, Ren sees the slender towers as offering a solution to the need for new residential development in the city. "The present Manhattan is the future Shanghai," Ren said.
The success of the program has already led to planning for a second round of executive education offerings next summer. Balder said AAP intends to offer two nine-day sessions next June and July.
"Our goal is to choreograph nine unforgettable days of engagement with the city and its creative protagonists, and to build an international network of leaders who can work together to shape the cities of tomorrow," Balder said. "In the years to come, AAP NYC will be the hub of this network."