Apr '10 - Feb '14
Place: Bedroom in Brooklyn
Song: House Jam by Gang Gang Dance
The last four days I spent in Ithaca, NY visiting the Cornell AAP Open House for Accepted Students. The Campus to Campus bus between the two was fantastic. The chairs are comfy, there's internet, outlets, and free snacks and drinks. The commute takes four hours and I have to say that it's very scenic especially driving past the Poconos.
Monday was a half-day and we were introduced to the faculty and administration at the AAP. It was concluded by a campus walking tour and a dinner at the only pizza place in Ithaca that can accommodate 30+ people.
Tuesday was the meat and potatoes of the program. Several administrators expounded the details of the program and the changes they are looking to make. Of which are the nomadic studio, a travel option to several global destinations for research and studio. The NYC AAP program which is speculated to be mandatory for graduate students. And most importantly, the new Millstein Hall opening Fall 2011. The space looks beautiful and will accommodate new lecture hall, crit space, open studios, and connect Sibley and Rand Halls. (The new building is one of their greatest selling points.) The program concluded with a lecture by Rem Koolhaas and an intimate reception in the gallery with the Dean and him.
My take on the program is that it is great for people who want a well-rounded education in architecture and more so for people who do not have a background in architecture. They are really focusing on graduate students which up until now has been overshadowed by its undergrad program. The program is quite flexible and supports open class requirements through heavy credit waivers. The dean is very big on interdisciplinary exchange and explained there are several moments in the program where the student will interact with other majors. I was rather relieved to know the AAP isn't rigid and strict.
The campus is beautiful, sprawling, and quiet with an eclectic collection of era architecture. The winters aren't as terrible as one would suspect of upstate New York. A good friend of mine from my undergrad at Cornell for three years doing his PhD in physics says he loves Cornell but doesn't like Ithaca. The town is very, very liberal with students organizations like DASH, Direct Action to Stop Heteronormativity. Outside of Cornell the town is quaint, centering in College Town where a number of restaurants and bars are located. I ate at Just a Taste for tapas and Maxie's for Cajun. Both were very excellent and very well priced.
I made my final decision last night and officially accepted my invitation to Columbia's GSAPP. It boiled down to financial aid and after several attempts to know Cornell's offer, they didn't give me a concrete answer. Columbia offered me need-based scholarship in the acceptance letter and has given me the results of my FAFSA Tuesday. That leads me to believe that Columbia is very professional, direct, and efficient.
I can't wait to start in September and good luck to everyone on their collegiate pursuit!