City College of New York – Spitzer School of Architecture
Arch51356 Developing Communication Skills
To succeed, architects must translate the terms of their art—space, materiality, form—into words. Drawing from 20 years as a journalist writing about architecture, Professor Russell will work hands-on with seminar participants to develop techniques that will help them communicate effectively and compellingly with a wide variety of readers: clients and other project stakeholders, contractors, consultants, and communities.
The seminar will develop essential basic writing skills, from resume preparation to day-to-day business communication in the form of letters, meeting minutes, marketing materials, and so on. Participants will borrow storytelling techniques from novelists and reporters to engage and inform at the deepest level.
The seminar will also consider the way journalists, theorists, historians and critics shape peoples’ perception of architecture. The idea of celebrity architecture, for example, is the way media and marketers categorize design quality to place it in our economy’s hierarchy of monetary valuation.
The seminar will take stock of the evolving nature of media, communication, and information delivery. It will consider the decline of traditional print and magazine media and the evolution of the Internet and social media. Since architecture is a visual art, the growth of online video and new devices like the iPad create new opportunities to both use and display design creativity.
Students are expected to be active participants, and will be asked to write brief, pithy, and polished pieces drawn from real-world situations: describing a jobsite problem, requesting a job interview, describing design intention for a client, persuading a reluctant community group, advocating for or against a project. Architects establish the importance of what they do when they can describe and defend it. Clients value those who can make a compelling case for their design.
SUS 7100C Cities and Sustainability (section leader for Hillary Brown, professor)
This course will set out several frameworks for approaching sustainability, explore foundational principles, and examine tools and metrics for measuring social, economic and environmental progress. The course will examine positive roles cities can play in safeguarding the sustainability of natural systems. It will look at policies and practices played out through both traditional and alternative forms of governance – processes based on greater inclusion and participation across the various urban sectors. Through case studies, individual and team assignments, students will become familiar with the dimensions of more ecologically sound decision-making. The course will combine seminar lectures, participant presentations of assignment exercises, and presentations of final papers.
Faced with human adaptation to peak oil, climate change, and forecasted scarcity of resources, our professional pedagogies and practices are being realigned to promote an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral response, preparing us for this “hot, flat and crowded world.” We examine the challenges faced and opportunities to be enjoyed by the next generation of architects, engineers, scientists, and other professionals as we undertake the necessary cultural, ethical and behavioral shifts in values and habits of mind needed to move us towards sustainable patterns in urban settlements.
- Develop understanding of key sustainability constructs, man/nature paradigms, philosophies, and ecological literacy
- Expand understanding of the city as an eco-system, its various metabolisms and its role in preserving/restoring eco-system remnants
- Appreciate emerging roles for technology in adaptation of our built and natural systems to climate disruption, peak oil, rapid urbanization and eco-systems degradation
Columbia University – Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation
A4666 Who Designs the Post-Suburban City?
“In America, the private world of power and money is seen as an inevitable force that dictates city form. And so architecture becomes little more than advertising.”—Daniel Libeskind, January 2002, in an interview
America has over the last two decades largely dispensed with the idea that the urban future should be guided in some strategic way—whether that guidance be provided by planners, urban designers, architects or some other category of professional. This is not to say that urban growth in America is not designed or planned. It’s just that the “designers” are often civil engineers, land developers, and even banks. The determinants of urban form tend to be habit, tax policy, and subsidy schemes, whether or not they were intended to shape physical communities. Such a way of making metropolitan places has recently begun to generate new, unintended, and largely undocumented forms of urban growth—forms increasingly at odds with community aspirations, fiscal rationality, and environmental sustainability, for example.
The purpose of the seminar is to understand the mechanisms (which are cultural, financial and political) by which cities are made in America and to explore means by which architectural design can become a better-integrated and more essential part of the process. The American approach to urban development is particularly important because elements of it, are, by default or imitation, increasingly prevailing worldwide. The nature of the material is cross-disciplinary, and so participants from all GSAPP programs are welcome.
The seminar will consider the methods, means, values, and “actors” that drive patterns of American urban development. All are amenable to the intervention of designers who choose to understand these processes and add value to them. Participants will learn the mechanisms that propel the simplistic, formulaic and apparently immutable (but often unintended) patterns of American urban growth. They will research and enter the debate that attempts to reconcile the dynamism of undifferentiated development (sprawl, for short) with both public and privatized paradigms that seek to align growth with community goals. Participants will use design thinking in two ways: to reconceptualize the mechanisms (financial, regulatory) of development (looking at, for example, efforts of the “new urbanists” to alter the development process) and to propose new or better-deployed design and design paradigms.
A6832 Culture and Design in Urban Form Regulation
In considering the history, current status, and future prospects of zoning regulations and land use, the seminar will ask participants to consider not only the degree to which land-use regulation works or doesn’t work but its underlying cultural, social and economic presumptions. The seminar will review the very different directions regulation has taken in traditional central cites (New York City will be a laboratory) and in the low-density cities that are now America’s dominant urban form. It will also consider relevant international trends. Throughout, participants will be asked to consider what the role was, is, or should be taken by planners, architects, and urban designers.
The structure of the seminar will ask participants to look at land use through, at minimum, the following filters:
Functional: Zoning as a device to control and separate noxious uses, to facilitate the proximity of related uses; to preserve the natural environment, and to assure provision of light and air, traffic flow and parking.
Economic: Land use as a tool for economic development, for encouraging housing production, for maintaining property values, and for slowing or reversing urban decline.
Social: Land use as a tool for protecting the interests of local elites and for resolving disputes among urban “stakeholders.” Among the groups and tools are traditional elites, “growth machine” business groups, and neighborhood and environmental activists. The tools they use include exclusionary zoning, zoning for esthetics, growth-control devices, zoning incentives, and the banning of uses and activities that allegedly attract an “unsuitable element”–from backyard clotheslines and mobile homes to pornography.
Objectives: The course is intended not only to introduce the student to traditional land-use tools, but to encourage ongoing critical inquiry as to the ends land use serves and the skills needed to effectively participate in the land-use regulation process. Students will be encouraged to develop cross-discipline skills that can be applied in the practice of urban design and to consider whether the skills and outlook typical of architecture, planning, or urban design are suited to these challenges.