January 23, 2023

Spring 2023 at AAP: Collaboration in Action

While the fall semester showcased the inspiration and new ways of thinking to be found in dialogue among passionate collaborators across disciplines, with the turn toward spring AAP celebrates results: new departments, degrees, classes, and faculty.

By Molly Sheridan

Aerial view of large building rooftops with trees and sidewalks surrounding.

Aerial view of Milstein Hall, Sibley Hall, and The Foundry. Anson Wigner / AAP

Intensive investment in developing innovative partnerships and exploring cross-disciplinary collaboration is paying inspiring dividends throughout the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP). A full roster of announcements has been issued in recent months, marking the launch of new departments, the establishment of innovative degree programs, and the forging of new connections with a growing faculty.

Led by AAP, the new multicollege Department of Design Tech builds upon the strengths of design and technology disciplines and departments across the university, bridging fields and faculty drawn from the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, the College of Human Ecology, Cornell Engineering, and Cornell Tech. Jenny Sabin, Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Professor in Architecture, will serve as the inaugural chair, and Architecture Associate Professor Timur Dogan is among the inaugural faculty.

Expanding graduate offerings in the Department of Art, the new interdisciplinary, low-residency Image Text M.F.A. works across disciplines to create new possibilities for creative practice and dialogue at the intersection of visual media and the literary arts under the direction of founding faculty directors Nicholas Muellner and Catherine Taylor.

Directed by Architecture Associate Professor Jesse LeCavalier, the new post-professional M.S. in Advanced Urban Design — the first architecture degree program at Cornell to be fully delivered in New York City — sits at the intersection of design, community, ecology, and technology in order to ask big questions, address contemporary challenges, and invigorate public spaces with creative and critical research and design practices. The city will serve as both setting and subject.

In addition, inaugural faculty drawn from both AAP and the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business have been appointed to the multicollege Paul Rubacha Department of Real Estate, led by Acting Chair and CRP Associate Professor Suzanne Lanyi Charles.

As Cornell students, staff, and faculty return to campuses in Ithaca, New York City, and Rome, the impact of these developments, in addition to special guest lectures, curated exhibitions, and guided field trips, promises to fuel an inspired spring semester imbued with what AAP Dean J. Meejin Yoon refers to in her January message to the AAP community as a renewed sense of humanity, and, quoting celebrated poet Rainer Maria Rilke, a "…new year, full of things that have never been."

Student laying down on a bench with their head insider a viewing portal beneath a fish tank

Student Shanti Morrissey (B.F.A. '24) explores the artwork at MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Art. image / Mia Brown-Seguin (B.F.A. '24)

Inviting Outside Ideas to the Table

From notable alumni returning to campus to student-led presentations, the Department of Architecture is set to fill AAP spaces with vibrant conversation and exhibitions. Architecture faculty Leslie Lok and Farzin Lotfi-Jam will each spearhead a Preston Thomas Memorial Lecture Symposium pairing multi-session panel discussions examining timely topics with installations in AAP galleries. Architecture iconoclast Peter Eisenman (B.Arch. '54) and Mónica Ponce de León, dean of the Princeton University School of Architecture, will deliver talks, as will Gensler Visiting Critic Alison Brooks and Strauch Visiting Critic Billie Faircloth. Architecture Associate Professor John Zissovici will present a lecture and exhibition during his final semester before retiring in June. In addition, the department has announced the reinstatement of the student-led lecture series The Living Room, a forum for critical discussion and debate about architecture today.

Keeping pace with the recent resurgence of clay as a contemporary sculpture material, Department of Art Assistant Professor of the Practice Joanna Malinowska is teaching a sculpture class fully focused on ceramics. Along with an investment in new equipment to support her class, this brings clay back to AAP in full force. The department also welcomes Spring 2023 Teiger Mentor in the Arts Wells Chandler who, in addition to visiting studio and seminar classes, will deliver a lecture chronicling the trajectory of his work exploring ecology, community, gender, and queer iconography through the mediums of crochet, embroidery, drawing, and cake. Artists Dona Nelson, Astria Suparak, Assistant Professor Dan Torop, and Visiting Critic Julianne Hunter are also slated to give talks, and Art faculty Leeza Meksin and Michael Ashkin have planned exhibitions in the AAP galleries.

The Department of City and Regional Planning will host a symposium on April 14, a full day of panels and a keynote address exploring the evolution and future of remote work organized by Strauch Fellow Zakhary Mallett. Additional department colloquiums will cover topics such as rural broadband and affordable housing. In April, students and faculty will travel to participate in the APA Planning Conference in Philadelphia and the Urban Affairs Association Conference in Nashville. Additionally, and notably, CRP Professor Sara C. Bronin has been confirmed as chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation by the U.S. Senate. Appointed by President Biden, Bronin will lead the agency that promotes the preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of national historic resources and advises the President and Congress on federal historic preservation policy.

Students gathered on a walkway above an urban street listening to a man in a suit pointing

CRP students on a site visit to the Financial District and surrounding areas of New York City led by Josh Nachowitz, the Senior Vice President of Economic Development of the Alliance for Downtown New York. Anson Wigner / AAP

Meeting Experts Where They Work

Now up and running with acting leadership and faculty following its launch nine months ago, the Paul Rubacha Department of Real Estate is offering two courses in New York City this spring that will connect students with practitioners and critical topics in real estate practice, as well as with Cornell alumni. Innovation in Commercial Real Estate, taught by alum Thomas Vecchione, will explore recent real estate developments in the city, and Affordable Housing Finance in NYC, taught by alum Daniel Moran, will take a deep dive into how low-income housing is developed. Ithaca-based students are eligible to take these courses and the department will provide transportation. In addition, Baker Program in Real Estate students will go on guided treks during spring break — first-year students to Miami and second-year students to London — that will provide opportunities to explore important topics specific to these cities and meet industry professionals. In Ithaca, the department's Distinguished Speaker Series will bring experts such as Cornell alumn and industry leader Gilda Perez-Alvarado, Global Chief Executive Officer of JLL Hotels & Hospitality, to campus.

Students spending their semester at Cornell in Rome this spring will also have the opportunity to further explore Italy through an extensive field trip program. Scheduled tours include overnight trips to Bologna, Napoli, and Siena and day trips to L'Aquila, Hadrian's Villa and Palestrina, and the renaissance highlights of Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Villa Lante in Bagnaia, and the Park of Monsters in Bomarzo. Students will also participate in the epic Wall Walk (along the Aurelian Walls) led by Visiting Critic Jan Gadeyne. Back in Ithaca, a group exhibition featuring work created by B.F.A. students during their studies in Rome last fall will be on display in the Tjaden Gallery at the end of March.

The Gensler Family AAP NYC Center will host art and architecture students this semester, and welcome a number of returning faculty as well as new visiting faculty including Gokhan Kodalak, Yazmany Arboleda, and Jonathan Molley in architecture and Dionis Ortiz in art. In addition, students will have extensive opportunities to explore the art and architecture of the city through planned tours and visits.

Attendees gathered in a lecture hall listening to a talk while viewing a large projection on a screen

AAP Highlight Lecture "We Outside" featuring speaker Amanda Williams (B.Arch. '97) with an introduction by Architecture Assistant Professor Peter Robinson held in Milstein Auditorium. Anson Wigner / AAP

Educating Agents of Change

The Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities continues to build support for collaborative work across the college and with change agents around the globe. This semester, the center will focus on developing the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation partnership with Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and host Charity Mwangi, a projects officer focused on urban planning and research at Slum Dwellers International–Kenya, here in Ithaca. Furthering this exchange, Nicholas Wilsey (B.S. URS '25) and Shhrruti Jain (M.Arch. '22) spent eight weeks in Nairobi last summer working with SDI, and there will be an opportunity to send another two students this summer.

With funding from the Mellon Foundation to support initiatives at the intellectual and institutional intersection of architecture, urbanism, and the humanities with a focus on social justice, the spring semester Urban Justice Lab will expand and be collaboratively taught for the first time by faculty drawn from both the Arts & Sciences and AAP. It's also the first time the Art Department will be the AAP collaborator. Art Professor Keith Obadike and Associate Professor of Literatures in English Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon will lead Seeing to Be in the Aftermath, an exploration of the ways that poems and songs have helped people develop theories of place. Additionally, later this spring AAP will recruit for year two of the Mellon Social Impact Internships.

Numerous initiatives led by faculty, students, and staff continue to advance the college's work to expand inclusive teaching and learning environments through both educational opportunities and cocurricular activities. During the spring semester, the Office of Diversity + Inclusion will continue to host Living Action Plan Edit-a-thons and DEI Book Club, as well as curate a collection of DEI-focused books related to AAP departments that will be housed in the Mui Ho Fine Arts Library and launch the AAP DEI awards for students, faculty, and staff.

In addition, a group of AAP faculty and staff is currently designing a college-wide course to address issues surrounding race and equity tentatively titled Creating Justice: The World We Make. Meeting university-wide learning objectives and creating synergies for cross-college efforts already underway, the course is set to launch next fall co-taught by faculty across departments and with an anticipated enrollment of nearly 150 students. Separately, each department is also identifying courses/workshops/studios that will allow students ways to explore issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond this first introductory course.

Aerial view of a geometric painting made on the lawn in front of a large brick building.

Lawn art created in front of Sibley Hall by Cornell STEP (Science & Technology Entry Program) students as part of a two-day digital and physical workshop led by Architecture Assistant Professor Suzanne Lettieri. Jason Koski / UREL

Keeping Pace with a Changing World

Alongside the growth of programs and departments, AAP facilities continue to evolve to keep pace with the needs of students and faculty. Here in Ithaca, we are continuing to advance the design for the renovation of Sibley Dome led by the New York City-based architecture firm WORKac, the renovation of The Foundry continues this semester, and the Office of Admissions and Student Services is slated to move into newly constructed office space at the lower level of Sibley Hall in August 2023. The Sign Works building on Ithaca's west side is now complete, providing new space for Art faculty studios and supporting project-based creative research for faculty at AAP. In New York City, the fourth floor of the Tata Building on the Cornell Tech campus is entering the schematic design phase, with a projected completion date of January 2025.

With so many new ideas, opportunities, and conversations to explore, programs to pursue, and experts to learn from, there is much to look forward to this spring at AAP, and not a minute to waste.


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