The Cooper Union
School of Architecture

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Professors Diana Agrest, Thomas Leeser, Jana Leo de Blas, David Turnbull, and Nanako Umemoto. Guest Critic: Anthony Vidler
Spring Semester

The thesis project is of major importance in the education of an architect. Students have to define their interests and their questions about architecture through the definition of a theme, a site and eventually a program. These projects are not always or necessarily meant to be problem-solving proposals but rather the place where critical issues can be made explicit and tested.

A thesis addresses two aspects of architecture simultaneously, the specific issues of the project itself and the implications of the concepts involved in the project in relation to the discourse of architecture itself today, in a historical perspective.

Many of the theses in this class deal with socio-political global or local issues, ranging from ecological crisis, migratory populations, trade of women for prostitution, transforming modes of habitation, traces of war, to the New Orleans flood. Other theses focus on urban issues and on new landscapes for habitation at the scale and speed of the car and the highway. Some projects involve very focused research on structural and formal issues that don’t have an immediate programmatic application but point to the potentiality of such an undertaking.

What unifies all the thesis projects is that they are based on philosophical and conceptual values and beliefs and, in that respect, it is the hope of a teacher that this will be an experience that will inspire the students for a search that will last a lifetime.