Nora Akawi

Assistant Professor

Nora Akawi is a Palestinian architect living in New York. Through research, curatorial, and pedagogical practices, her work lies at the intersection of urban and environmental justice, collective memory, and architecture—drawing from migration and border studies, mapping practices and archive theory. She focuses on architecture’s entanglements in processes of erasure and exclusion in settler colonialism. 

Since 2014, she has been teaching a series of interdisciplinary courses on Borderlands in collaboration with researchers, artists, and human rights organizations in the Jordan Valley, Lesvos and the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean coast of Palestine, and the occupied Golan Heights. Prior to joining The Cooper Union, Nora taught urban design, history and theory of architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University. Also at Columbia, she served as director of Studio-X Amman from 2012 to 2020, where she led an open and public educational platform advancing critical architectural discourse in the Arab world through courses, events, exhibition and publishing projects.

Recently, Nora curated Al Majhoola Min Al-Ard (L’étrangère sur terre) at the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans (2019), and co-curated Friday Sermon, the Bahrain Pavilion exhibition in the Biennale Architettura in Venice (2018). She is co-editor of the books Friday Sermon (Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, 2018) and Architecture and Representation: The Arab City (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2016). 

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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.