The Cooper Union
School of Architecture

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Spring Semester
Professors Diane Lewis, Peter Schubert, Daniel Sherer, Mersiha Veledar, and Georg Windeck

Origins of house and civic gathering; the mark on the site.

A spontaneous and abstract mark made by the architect must be read as an incentive to plan, section, corporeality. The MARK: BLACK AND WHITE read as ARCHITECTURAL NOTATION.

This reading of a mark, made by the mind, the hand, the body, and the psyche, is not a simple reading of form. The nuance, and the movement can be deciphered in the artificial two-dimensional disciplined reading of plan, section or elevation in terms of the rules of architectural representation; overlap, distance, size change to see the marks in a field as body. However, the characteristics of the mark, intensity, spontaneity, are all part of a hieroglyph to be divined by the architect in placing the hieroglyph in confrontation with structure, a site, as well as the dialogue with architectural memory that comes from the reading of the hieroglyphs of other architects.

The project began with the given grid, as a latent field of structural conditions. The studio participants were asked to make a mark with ink, pencil, graphite or charcoal, black on white. The marks made within the field can be seen as elements in space, bodies in the spatial and structural field of our time. After the primary marks were made on the field, the participants were divided into two groups: DOMUS and LOCUS.

The mark was read in the field as a provocation for the design of a definitive domus, a unit or collective unit of inhabitation for our time. Each student derived the elements of the house and an idea for how this unit might relate to a grouping of this typology, as well as a programmatic mandate for the domus. Ideas about whether the domus was innately urban and necessary to a density, an element of domesticity within an institution such as a school, library, or university began to evolve for each individual project.

The mark was used to select a site from a list of important civic architectural projects that have a strong syntactical character as inscribed by the architects who created them. Thus the syntax of the mark was immediately put into confrontation with the selected site syntax. Each student selected the site because of the character of the plan and section markings of the architecture; the sites included architectural works by Saarinen, Mies, Scharoun, Kahn, Le Corbusier, Olmstead, McKim Mead White, Harrison Abramovitz, Bunshaft.

The problem of selecting and intervening with the marks is the project of reading an architectural site syntactically. The mark of the studio participant must be sized, edited, repeated, evaluated for its potential, positioned, sited, read as an exciting civic plan. Activity and domesticity could be seen and imagined from the syntactical character, scale, density, singularity, etc.

Once an archetypal domus was designed as autonomous from a specific site, each student who had designed a domus had to select a civic architectural site to which their domus would be related through a contemporary addition to its civic program. The sites were presented for selection as plans. Each student had to determine their choice from this definitive syntactical image of a major civic site by reading how the character of their own domus form could speak to the signature characteristics of plans and sections such as Jefferson's University of Virginia Campus, Olmsted's Central park at the Met and the Natural History Museum, Kahn's Dakka site, New Harmony Indiana, Cossuta's Christian Science Piazza in Boston, Urbahn's The New School, Harrison and Abramovitz's Rockefeller Institute, The Morgan Library of McKim, The Silver Towers of James Ingo Freed, The Hirschorn Museum and the National Gallery on the Washington Mall, La Defense Paris, Kulturforum in Berlin, DeMenil Museum and its campus in Houston, Michelucci's Florence train station, all examples of architect-authored civic projects to which these student projects add contemporary domestic presence and additional civic functions.

Those who developed a site concept from the mark in dialogue with a major civic architecture, then developed a civic program and a domestic element that would comprise the elements that form the proposed civic complex.

The city was developed through this project from the inside out. The ambulatory, elements of inhabitation at individual and civic scale were invented, crafted, scaled, positioned to bind the civic activity to the spatial exploration of the architecture of the city. The projects are hung to show the evolution from the first autonomous mark to the projects in plans, sections, model, and proposal. The projects are invested in deriving form in a critical discourse with architectural syntax and memory.

1. Given Civic Site Architecture: JP Morgan Library; McKim Mead White
Proposal: Residential Institute for Library Scholars at the Morgan Library, New York

2. Given Civic Site Architecture: Rockefeller Institute; Harrison Abramovitz, Kiley
Proposal: An Urban Terrace: Scientist Residency with Shared Terraces and Public Roof for Gathering and Lectures at the Rockefeller Institute, NY

3. Given Civic Site Architecture: Silver Towers; James Ingo Freed, Partner Pei Cobb Freed
Program: The House of the Engaged Perimeter, a School with Teachers' Housing, Classrooms and Playground at the Silver Towers New York

4. Given Architectural Civic Site: Folkwang Museum; Kreutzberger
Proposal: Houses for Artists and Workers in the postindustrial age in relation to the Folkwang Museum, Essen

5. Given Civic Site Architecture: Kulturforum, Berlin; Scharoun, Mies, Stuele
Proposal: Guest House and Rehearsal Rooms for the Philharmonics

6. Given Civic Site Architecture: Santa Maria Novella train station, Florence; Michelucci
Proposal: Displaced Forum; Library and Housing for Civic Workers at the Limit of the Roman City

7. Given Civic Site Architecture: De Menil Museum compound; Renzo Piano
Proposal: Reduction: A Proposition for Urban Confluence, Artist Housing within the compound of the Rothko Chapel, & Sculpture grounds at the De Menil Collection, Houston Texas

8. Given Civic Site Architecture: National Theatre on the Thames; D. Lasdun
Proposal: “Unsettled Ground” The Peoples Reach and the Kings Reach-Housing for Teachers, Postal Workers, Medical Workers adjacent to the National Theatre London

9. Given Civic Site Architecture: Institutional Edge of Central Park; Olmsted
Proposal: The Implicit Gap between the Met and the Natural History Museum, a New Delacorte Theatre; Actor's Housing at the Shakespeare Theater, Central Park

10. Given Civic Site Architecture: Park Güell; A. Gaudi
Proposal: The Sixty Unrealized Houses from the Original Park Guell Plan Connected by a Collective Library Barcelona; Gaudi

11. Given Civic Site Architecture: Palace of Justice, Dakka; L. Kahn
Proposal: Domus of Reciprocity, Visitor's Houses with Marketplace

12. Given Civic Site Architecture: Christian Science Center; A. Cossutta, Partner I.M. Pei
Proposal: House for the Readers' at the Christian Science Center, Boston

13. Given Civic Site Architecture: Harmony Indiana; Meier, Johnson
Proposal: Labyrinth: Four Houses Next to City Hall, New Harmony

14. Given Site Architecture: Grand Arche La Defense; Spreckelsen
Proposal: Houses beyond the Grand Arche de la Defense, Paris

15. Given Civic Site Architecture: Harmony Indiana; Owen, Meier
Proposal: Migrants Houses in an Entropic Field, a New Community in the Continuum of New Harmony

16. Given Architectural Civic Site: The New School; J. Urban and Tafel
Proposal: A University Block of Student Houses and Facilities, New School, NY

17. Given Civic Site Architecture: Hirschorn Museum; G. Bunschaft SOM
Site: Domus Faber with Nursery for Fabrication, at The Mall, Hirschhorn Gallery, Washington D.C.

18. Given Civic Site Architecture: Palace of Justice, Dakka; L. Kahn
Proposal: Dighi Domus; Mounds Beyond the Urban Wall; Resettling the Flood Plain at Dakka