August 22, 2022

Fall 2022 at AAP: Inclusion and Innovation through Collaboration

As the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) welcomes students, faculty, and staff back this fall, the semester ahead includes new courses that invite interdisciplinary participation and innovative partnerships that draw new connections and build community.

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Aerial view of hanging black and white tapestry with woman passing by

Fourier Tapestry (2006) by Associate Professor Jenny Sabin. Anson Wigner / AAP

As the fall semester comes underway and the college welcomes students, staff, and faculty back to campuses in Ithaca, New York City, and Rome, Dean J. Meejin Yoon reminds the AAP community of a common mission driving developments and actions across the college in her recent message. "Here, we are constant in our collective mission to challenge assumptions, raise questions, further informed discourse, and produce actionable knowledge that engages the world and all of its urgent challenges both within and beyond our classrooms, studios, and labs. We continue to build community around these commitments and values."

The college and departments (now numbering four) have seen recent growth in these areas with the appointment of eight new faculty members and two inaugural Strauch fellows who together bring social justice and radical collaboration to the forefront of the college's efforts to build a more just and thriving world for all. In the past several months, 16 new staff members have come to lead or support different areas of the college, many of whom are beginning their first new academic year with AAP. The college also welcomes new leadership with Associate Professor of Art Jen Delos Reyes as Associate Dean for Diversity and Equity, CRP Professor Neema Kudva as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, CRP Associate Professor Suzanne Lanyi Charles as Acting Chair of the college's newest department, the multicollege Paul Rubacha Department of Real Estate, and Visiting Professor of the Practice Cody Danks Burke as Acting Director of the Baker Program in Real Estate.

Other developments include the announcement of the first major event hosted by the Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities. The "Critical Conversations for Urban Transformation" symposium, scheduled for September 27 and 28, will mark the official launch of the center and bring thought leaders from around the world together with AAP faculty to share knowledge, research, and a wide swath of approaches to tackling some of the most vexing problems facing cities today. The symposium's extensive program includes keynote panels and speakers, Pecha Kucha presentations, exhibits, planning sessions, and participatory roundtable discussions with architects, planners, artists, civic leaders, and urban change agents.

Plans for capital projects in and around the college are also in the works. Renovation of the Foundry, which houses the M.F.A. studios and sculpture classrooms, begins this November. The design phase of the Sibley Dome renovation project is just beginning, and the new space for Art faculty studios and Architecture research at the Sign Works building on the west side of Ithaca will be completed before the end of 2022. 

AAP's Office of Diversity + Inclusion will offer a wide slate of events designed to create opportunities to gather and share resources and perspectives. Informal events will bring together communities of color, LGBTQ+, and international students, as well as engage current students, faculty, and staff in college-wide D+I programming. In October, AAP will take part in Impact Week @ Cornell in collaboration with other colleges on campus. The event seeks to draw communities together, raise awareness, and inspire action to impact change. In addition, also in collaboration with the Nolan School, they will present Broaden Full Participation, a series of three planned events that highlight how individuals across architecture, art, planning, and real estate are flourishing and feel a sense of belonging within their field.

Fostering inclusion and innovation via collaboration runs through the many events, guest lectures, and new courses — some led by new faculty — that the college and departments have planned for this fall 2022 semester.

Collage of The Parthenon with contemporary construction elements added

Collage representing Visiting Critic Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo's studio Subverting Heritage, which will explore ways to appropriate, adapt, and reuse historic and cultural monuments. image / provided

Building Possibilities

How do we build reciprocal creative relationships in complex social conditions? What methods are ethically or intellectually fruitful for engagement? This fall's Design Justice Workshop, part of the Mellon Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities seminars, will raise questions around how to engage and build community with a focus on the city of Detroit. Architecture Assistant Professor Suzanne Lettieri and Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature Karen Pinkus will coteach the workshop which will allow students to collaborate across disciplines on critical design and writing projects. In parallel, Lettieri will also offer an option architecture studio that explores the design of backgrounds (from wallpaper to scenography to rooms) and draws from shared experiences to develop projects designed for and with high school students and local artists in Detroit.

Other select option studios addressing timely questions include Visiting Critic Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo's Subverting Heritage, which explores ways to appropriate, adapt, and reuse historic and cultural monuments, and Farzin Lotfi-Jam's Realtime Environments, which will dive into emerging technologies and the possibilities they present. Don Greenberg and Christopher Morse's studio invites students into a multi-year collaboration with Nvidia to create new software tools to help evaluate such factors as sustainability and safety questions early in the design process.

In addition to previously announced new hires, Architecture is excited to welcome Gensler Visiting Critic Gary Bates, Baird Visiting Critic Nathan Williams, as well as a number of visiting faculty, teaching fellows, and guest speakers to the department this fall. Planned lectures spanning research and practice will be delivered by Amanda Williams (B.Arch. '97), Sumayya Vally, Bryan Young, and Architecture Visiting Critic Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo with her Pedro&Juana cofounder Mecky Reuss.

Man covered in dark green and purple grass and flowers with just his head visible.

Still from Hugh the Hunter (2015) by Hugh Hayden (B.Arch. 07). image / provided

Creativity Beyond Boundaries

The Department of Art is offering a powerful roster of visiting artist talks this fall, including visual artist Marie Lorenz, abstract painter Lisa Corinne Davis, Dominican participatory artist and designer Lizania Cruz, and sculptor Hugh Hayden (B. Arch. '07). This fall's Teiger Mentor in the Arts Emilio Rojas will deliver a lecture titled "GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM!" and, in addition to studio visits and this semester's graduate seminar, he will teach the department's first introductory course in performance art.

Other new visiting faculty this semester include Dionis Ortiz, who will teach introduction to drawing, and Paulina Velázquez Solís, who will offer introduction to digital media and coteach B.F.A. thesis with Associate Professor Carl Ostendarp and Professor Keith Obadike. In collaboration with Architecture's María González Pendás, Art Chair Paul Ramírez Jonas will coteach a new special topics course titled After the Monument. Further beyond the new and veering into the experimental will be the department's first ever Art Department Jubilee — a series of workshops across two consecutive days during which all classes will be open to all art students, allowing them to attend any they wish and to connect with different faculty and classmates.

Art Professor of the Practice Joanna Malinowska and Professor Keith Obadike (both along with creative collaborators) will contribute work to the campus-wide 2022 Cornell Biennial themed Futurities, Uncertain, "an artistic call and response to counter singular utopic models, colonial visions, and socio-cultural sameness." The Cornell Council for the Arts website has more information and the full lineup, including architecture faculty Leslie Lok and Felix Heisel, Giselle Hobbs (M.F.A. '23), Matea LeBeau (B.F.A. '22), and CRP student Kellen Cooks (B.S. URS '23). 

Bass, saxophone, and percussion musicians gathered outside in an overgrown lot.

The Mothership is a P-Funk/Afrofuturist-inspired traveling DJ booth and one of several projects that landed at ONE Mile, a multidisciplinary, collaborative effort to support the cultural production and socio-economic activity of Detroit's North End neighborhood. image / Akoaki

Strengthening Community Collaboration

New faculty in Planning bring deep knowledge and expertise that frame course offerings in CRP this semester. For instance, Assistant Professor Wenfei Xu will teach Mapping and Countermapping, a hybrid practice-discourse studio that will examine how space is developed, lived, contested, and represented through making maps, and CRP's inaugural Strauch Fellow Zakhary Mallett will lead a course on critical Transportation and Land Use Planning. CRP Chair Sophie Oldfield will offer a new seminar course called Urban Everyday, which will explore the ways cities in the Global South and beyond are built by ordinary people, movements, and organizations "from below."

CRP and Landscape Architecture faculty Mitch Glass will teach an Inclusive Urban Development course supported by the Cornell Mui Ho Center for Cities at AAP in collaboration with the Sweet Water Foundation. The course will bring AAP students together with allied disciplines to participate in an immersive learning session on Chicago's South Side at The Commonwealth, a demonstration of ground-up neighborhood development, followed by collaborative listening, reflecting, translating, and visioning frameworks for a community-driven project in Detroit.

CRP's colloquium series is a cornerstone for the department. This semester, select highlights include Wilbard Kombe, a visiting Institute for African Development Fellow from Ardhi University in Tanzania, who will explore the gaps and prospects for institutional reforms for urban land use planning and management in Sub-Saharan Africa; Kim Wheeler (M.R.P. '04) and regional planner for SEDA-Council of Governments in Pennsylvania, who will discuss "Reality-based Planning in Rural America;" Jade Doskow, an artist and collaborator with CRP's Jenni Minner, who will present "A New Wilderness: Freshkills," a talk accompanying her Hartell Gallery exhibit documenting the rebirth of the Fresh Kills Landfill; and Strauch Fellow Zakhary Mallett, who will share his research on contemporary transportation issues with a lecture titled "Inequitable Inefficiency: A Case Study of Rail Transit Fare Policies."

City map with light bulb and fish illustrations superimposed.

Universe City logo superimposed over Laura Kurgan's "Million Dollar Blocks" study of Brownsville, Brooklyn. image / provided

Expanding Opportunities for Connection Across Campuses and Beyond

The Gensler Family AAP NYC Center welcomes a projected 75 students this fall, the largest number in the history of the program. To accommodate this large cohort, AAP NYC will have studios and classrooms across two locations — 26 Broadway and the Tata Innovation Center on the Cornell Tech campus. Additionally, this semester's itinerary encompasses a number of iconic destinations including the M.R.P. fall field trip titled New York Meets the Water which will focus on climate questions in New York City. The tour will be led by CRP faculty Linda Shi and Victoria Beard, with Bob Balder and Sophie Oldfield assisting. Architecture Professor of the Practice Florian Idenburg's fall lunch lecture series brings six speakers to the center, including writers, curators, and spin-doctors who will share their views on how to garner engagement with words so that architects can learn to craft more powerful narratives. Assistant Professor Peter Robinson, Architecture, returns with a studio focused on property and neighborhood food sovereignty across Universe City sites and sites throughout East New York and Brownsville, Brooklyn. At the Tata Innovation Center, Architecture Professor Jenny Sabin will continue coteaching the interdisciplinary, hybrid product studio and coding for design alongside other classes that extend the reach of the ongoing Design Tech pilot program based at Cornell Tech.

In Rome, architecture and art students find different ways to deepen their understanding of approaches to creative practice through critical engagement with the Eternal City in and outside of class. Architecture Professor Andrea Simitch will teach INTERVENTIONS, a new seminar that foregrounds the role of context in architecture. Art Professor Michael Ashkin will teach a new course in advanced photography around subjective, perceptual, structural, and historical conditions — all at work in urban and photographic spaces. Students in Rome this fall will also have the opportunity to visit Venice for the Biennale, and to tour Naples and the surrounding area with a focus on sacred spaces, among other departures to sites in and around the city. 

Meeting the Urgent Challenges of Today

An ever-expanding diversity of perspectives across faculty, students, and educational experiences is more essential than ever to fostering innovation, equity, and sustainability in a rapidly changing world. No one discipline can address these complex issues alone. This semester and beyond, across all departments and in the many areas of intersection between them, the college will bring people together and seek to draw connections that meet the urgent challenges of today and cultivate a thriving world for tomorrow.

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