First-year Architects to Breathe Life into Dragon

A young woman with blond hair uses a power tool to attach two piece of wood
Dragon Day cocaptain Frances Gregor (B.Arch. '23) assembles a portion of dragon March 27 outside of the Foundry. John Munson / Cornell University Media Relations
young woman works to trim reflective fabric around a cardboard cut out
Nadiya Farrington (B.Arch. '23) works to cover the dragon pieces with Mylar. William Staffeld / AAP
two hands working with a wooden skeleton
The body of the dragon is created from plywood, wooden 2x2s, and wood glue. William Staffeld / AAP
hands pointing to a laptop screen on a wooden table with woodworking tools around it.
Planning for the 2019 dragon began several weeks ago. William Staffeld / AAP
Dragon Day cocaptain Frances Gregor (B.Arch. '23) assembles a portion of dragon March 27 outside of the Foundry. John Munson / Cornell University Media Relations Nadiya Farrington (B.Arch. '23) works to cover the dragon pieces with Mylar. William Staffeld / AAP The body of the dragon is created from plywood, wooden 2x2s, and wood glue. William Staffeld / AAP Planning for the 2019 dragon began several weeks ago. William Staffeld / AAP
News
March 29, 2019

You need not imagine dragons — this one will be quite visible.

A 70-foot-long, large-tailed beast created by first-year architecture students will parade across campus March 29. Dragon Day has been a spring tradition in AAP for more than a century.

The parade will begin at The Foundry at about 1 p.m. and will be streamed on a slight delay starting at around 1:30 p.m.

"Building the dragon is a great opportunity for people working together, and you get to design something and build it at a scale that's not a studio project," said Frances Gregor (B.Arch. '23), a team cocaptain along with Andrew Boghossian (B.Arch. '23).

"When you make a model in class, it's on a smaller scale. Here, we have bigger values in a physical, tangible sense. Things are designed to actually move," Gregor said. "We bought hundreds of feet of 2-by-2s, we're using staple guns, and we're actually bringing the dragon to life."

Recent Cornell dragons have been metallic and modernistic; this year's design is a closely guarded secret. "The design is reflective of our class," Gregor said. "A couple of weeks ago we finalized the design, but we are still changing things as we build."

A hint can be found in the materials list: 100 8-foot wooden 2-by-2s; 50 sheets of 5-by-8 feet cardboard, each three-quarter of an inch thick; six sheets of plywood; two gallons of wood glue; two boxes of 10,000-count staples; untold yards of mylar; and a Volkswagen chassis.

The run-up to Dragon Day makes for a busy week. In addition to innumerable hours spent on the construction, many students gave presentations in their classes. They also found time in their schedules to participate in two other traditions: the Nerd Walk — think pocket protectors and taped glasses — on March 26, and the Green Streak — green-painted students interrupting classrooms — March 27.

Throughout the week of building the beast, team members like Jacob Hocking (B.Arch. '23) clamped the spine for the dragon's body, Luke Kratsios (B.Arch. '23) put hinges on the tail, and Jeremy Huelin (B.Arch. '23) monitored a machine that precisely cut out dragon parts.

"It's really cool to be part of something as a class and create something with all of us together," said Huelin. "Most of our projects are individual, so this is an opportunity when we can showcase what our class can do as a whole. The dragon is going to be great, and on Friday you'll see the entire thing."

By Blaine Friedlander, Cornell Chronicle