The Cooper Union School of Architecture
Fall Semester, 2006
Professors Diane Lewis, Peter Schubert, Georg Windeck, Mersiha Veledar, Daniel Sherer
Many schools and architects in practice have done projects for New Orleans which are predominantly housing for the post flood population. It is clear that many of the proposals from a wide range of sources remind of a repetition of the failed post war urban renewal housing and show no consciousness of the necessity to integrate civic program and inventive public space with a new vision of residential structure in order to anchor and enrich a new incarnation of the rich and varied culture personified in the city of New Orleans. The psyche and the poetry of the city and its inhabitants were studied in parallel with the following project development in the form of the great literature inspired by the city by such authors as Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.
The first day of studio our team of five faculty presented a series of plans, maps, and satellite images in a discussion that revealed the relation between the founding city plan of New Orleans and architectural roots from the Roman plan to the Bastide. The later city plans, from the founding to the present, revealed morphologic transformations relating to geography, flood plains, commerce, war, and other urban forces. The satellite images located the city within a global image of the Mississippi Delta, the Gulf and the weather.
With this study as the initiative, each participant selected a city that had undergone a disaster, either natural or man-made, and precipitated a definitive architectural solution/ urban vision. The catastrophes include: FIRE, FLOOD, FAMINE, EARTHQUAKE, VOLCANIC ERUPTION, DAMNATIO MEMORIA, BOMBING, GENOCIDE, URBAN RENEWAL.
Model projects from cities as far ranging as the mythic Atlantis and the cultural evacuation of Matera were studied, and the architectural visions that inspired by the destruction of the city or its precincts. The result included such titles as:
1. A Church, and 9th Ward Islands: Damnatio Memoria in Mexico City,
2. A Journalism School, in the French Quarter: Fire of London, Sir John Soane’s Bank of England,
3. Basilica; Perimeter City at Lake Pontchartrain: War in Berlin, The Kulturforum
4. Linear Housing at the Drainage Canals; Flood in Kaifeng, China, The Revetment—Lin Qing,
5. A Labor union School, and habitation, at the New Orleans Islands, Metrairie Bayou; Damnatio Memoria in Dessau, The Bauhaus by Walter Gropius,
6. ’Urban blanket’ at Congo Square; Fire of Chicago, Federal Plaza by Mies Van der Rohe
7. Barricade/Highway: public programs at the central divide; Earthquake at Skopje, Kenzo Tange; master plan
8. Congregational space for women, “La Place des Femmes” At the Ursuline Convent on State Street.War in Beirut; Encased Programs at the demarcation line
9. 9th Ward Communal Spaces and Fats Domino’s house; Damnatio Memoria in
St. Petersburg by the Russian Revolution; The diagram of the revolution as seen in Eisenstein’s Potemkin and Tatlin’s tower
10. A Prytaneum for the Lower garden District; Volcano in Catania, Loci—Aldo Rossi
11. A Public space for carnival at Tivoli Square; Damnatio Memoria in Beijing, the proposal for the restoration of Boundaries after the demolition of the walls of the Forbidden City
12. A Church of Church Façades, a new Basilica; Colonialism in Chiapas;
13. ”LWSHWR (Low water shelter, high water refuge),” Chiado District; Earthquake in Lisbon; William Faulkner’s ‘The Old Man’
14. ’Two players of a summer’s game’ City Park; Damnatio Memoria in Berlin: Kulturforum project; National Gallery—Berlin’s Philharmonic, Mies Van der Rohe—Hans Scharoun
15. Hospital, 9th Ward; Plague in Rome. Isola Tiburtina
16. An ”Urban Renewal” for the 9th Ward; Detroit Urban renewal; Factory Buildings, Albert Kahn
17. “Quadrant City,” A Birthing Clinic at the Mouth of the industrial canal; Famine in Kilkenny Ireland and its effect on the architecture of Boston
18. Marketplace at the Crossing of Orleans Av. And I 10; War in Hiroshima; Post bombing master plan by Kenzo Tange
19. “Audubon Park Schools,” the New Site for Schools of New Orleans; Damnatio Memoria in Havana: The Master Plan of Havana as effected by the L’Ecole en Plein Air and the proposals of “Jose Luis Sert—Beaudouin, Lods”
20. Gatehouse Gateway; a demarcation of the span between limits of the city of New Orleans; Colonialism in Algiers; The Obus Plan, Le Corbusier
21. Biloxi Bridge; a bridge of houses; Damnatio Memoria in Rotterdam
22. A Half—A French Quarter; War in Phnom Phen; The planning of water and site conditions of Angkor Wat
23. House and civic pod—islands for New Orleans; Volcanic destruction of Atlantis; the diagrams of Atlantis in Plato and Dante’s inferno
24. Orphanage; “Children’s Houses” anchored by the Statues in the Parks at the river edge of the French Quarter; Fire in Manila; squatters housing response; Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities
25. Nine poets’ houses for nine sites in New Orleans; Urban Renewal as suffered in Matera, Italy.
26. Sailboat repair housing at Lake Ponchartain; Earthquake in Messina; the Greek-Roman—19th century urban reorientation
27. Church at the former Superdome; Damnatio Memoria in the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem: the Jerusalem Synagogue by Louis Kahn
28. A Pavilion for the founding of the city at the River edge; Urban Renewal in the Favelas of Rio
29. “Solid Ground,” A Park at the Bayou just beyond the Ninth ward; Earthquake in Kyoto; the Ryonanji Rock Garden
The Cooper Union School of Architecture
Spring Semester, 2006
Professors Diane Lewis, Peter Schubert, Georg Windeck, Mersiha Veledar
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.
GROUP DOMUS: FIRST PHASE
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.
GROUP LOCUS: FIRST PHASE
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.
GROUP DOMUS: SECOND PHASE
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.
GROUP LOCUS: SECOND PHASE
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