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    052 - Old and New and On-going..

    Danny Wills Sep 12 '09 6

    This year I am finally entering my third year at Cooper, and it only took me four years to get there. As you might know, I used to go to Kent, but after the second year there I decided to transfer to Cooper. And what I wild ride it has been.

    If you know me personally, you may of noticed the change in my attitude about Cooper throughout the two years that I have been here. I started off a little hesitant about the program of the school. Now I'm telling everyone I'm glad I was placed into first year-- five years at this school is not enough time to soak up every bit of knowledge it contains.

    With this entry I'll try to comprehensively bring you an update on how my summer's been and how the beginning of the semester's been thus far.






    The End of the Year Show came and went. The Foundation Building was full from basement to roof of work form the art, architecture, and engineering students. The set up for the show was more intense than the final week of studio.






    Spring semester dealt with issues of landscape and site, marking and measurement, geophysical conditions, community program, and trying to build one fourteen foot model with 28 students.










    Fall semester, as I may have mentioned, dealt with the analysis of Santa Maria in Campitelli, by Carlo Rainaldi, and its formal, spatial, and tectonic implications. The church underwent a series of procedural transformations to arrive at the concept of two generic churches co-existing within one cathedral, creating a spatial experience of confused primary axes, a bricolage of Baroque parts... in brief. It changed my entire outlook on analysis and the Baroque movement.




    Contrary to popular belief, Cooper Union does like the computer, and does have students who are talented at using digital programs, and in fact, does have classes that teach the tool of the computer in a way that politely treats it as an important part of an architect's set of tools to solve architectural problems. We even now have a 3D printer.




    Student council hosted a series of faculty lectures to the student body, to further educate the students on the happenings of our professors and their work outside of teaching.



    Last summer I worked at the Architecture Archives at the Cooper Union. I helped document student work. This year my responsibilities were greatly promoted. Along with my roommate and classmate, we...



    ..found a large collection of drawings during the move out of the old engineering building, into the New Academic Building (by Morphosis). These drawings were stored in dusty piles in the back of someone's desk in the bulkhead of the building. Some of these drawings date back over a hundred years old to some of the original plans for the Foundation Building (more on that soon).





    ..got to explore the archives for some original sketches of John Hejduk when he designed the interior renovation for the Foundation Building.



    ..most importantly, have been working on an enormous project for the 150th year anniversary exhibition for Cooper. Part of this entails weeks and weeks of heavy research into discovering the original plans of the Foundation Building, the 150 year old building that was the first New York skyscraper. At only 5 stories tall, it used the first rolled steel beam, invented by Peter Cooper himself.

    We've been creating an intense Rhino file documenting the 150 years of this building's existence, and the successive changes, renovations, additions, and subtractions that have happened to it. You'll most likely see more on this later, but we're almost done with the model, which will lead to drawings and 3D prints for the exhibition's opening, October 23.




    I moved and updated my website.






    And I made another website after finally scanning all of my photographs from my trip to Spain this last winter. It's here. Also, thanks to Geoff at BLDGBLOG, they got some nice promotion. Twice!.


    And now for some new news..

    This year my design team includes the Dean, Anthony Vidler, Lyn Rice, Stella Betts, Sam Anderson, and Laila Seewang.

    Our studio brief:

    "Semester I: Habitats-

    During the span of this year, we will be studying architecture in detail. That is, architecture treated as a complete and synthetic design project, in depth and breadth, conceived as a material art. Our investigations will range from detailed analyses of existing or projected buildings to the design of parts and whole of buildings for a range of different purposes, domestic and public.
    At intervals during the semesters, and with the help of visiting professors to the studio, the projects will focus on particular aspects of the architectural synthesis, emphasizing context, human desires and spatial arrangements, environmental issues and technological needs, structural logics, and material assemblies.
    Each week we will read a short text and meet to discuss its implications for architecture. We will also read long texts and write short critiques that explain your responses to them and propose your own versions."

    And in our first week, our first investigation entails an axonometric projection of the house or apartment that we best remember as a child. We're reading about Mike Kelley's 'Educational Complex' and Freud's 'Screen Memories' from 'The Uncanny.' Architecture and psychology. Yes.


    I should hopefully be able to keep a better updating schedule for this blog because of the format of this studio. We'll see how that goes.. but until then, enjoy this awfully long entry.



     

     
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