Summer Programs in Architecture: Masterclass

Student work: Masterclass in Digital Architecture, Edward Perez, summer 2013 Student work: Masterclass in Digital Architecture, animation still, Edward Perez, summer 2013 Student work: Masterclass in Digital Architecture, Stephanie Medel, summer 2013 Student work: Masterclass in Digital Architecture, animation still, Christine Williams, summer 2013 Student work: Masterclass in Digital Architecture, Christine Williams, summer 2013
Student work: Masterclass in Digital Architecture, Edward Perez, summer 2013
Masterclass in Digital Architecture: The Speculative Object 

July 7 - August 1, 2014  |  4-week session, full-time, 4 credits

Shifts in design mediation technologies have produced a different set of representational concerns for architecture. The discourse of Speculative Realism (SR) offers a provocative engagement with these design issues through an aesthetic of realism. This intensive workshop, led by internationally recognized leaders in education and practice, will explore different contemporary problems through research, design and the production of images, objects, and scenarios. The course will engage with an ensemble of philosophical, literary and art discourses, such as SR, Object Oriented Ontology (OOO), Para-fiction, and Counterfactual History.

This discussion is of great importance for contemporary architecture and design. Architecture directly intervenes in the real world, yet the architect acts at a removed distance through mediations. The past two decades have seen a shift in the technologies of design mediation, producing a different set of representational problems for architecture. The following three pertinent issues will be addressed and explored in this course: 1) the creation and manipulation of a digital model as variable virtual object; 2) the rethinking of material assemblies through digital fabrication; 3) the image produced through photorealistic rendering and composite artistry.

The Masterclass will consist of three one-week studio sessions focused on specific topics.The 4th week will be spent tying together all the work into a single project. During the workshop there will be lectures, roundtable discussions, pin-up reviews, guest presentations, and field-trips throughout New York City.

The workshop will take place at The Cooper Union in the heart of New York City. All students will have studio space in which the production, discussion, presentation, and review of the work will take place. All students will have access to the digital studio, which includes all necessary software and hardware, both PC and Mac, output including Laser printers and Plotters, 3d Printers and Lasercutters, and the full shop of The Cooper Union for wood and metal working.

View sample course schedule from Summer 2013 session.


Students from all academic fields and professions are welcome and encouraged to apply. Prospective students should be proficient in contemporary computational software. They should also demonstrate exposure to digital fabrication techniques and a willingness to challenge assumed ideas regarding architecture and digital design.

Prospective students must have completed 90 college credits or the third year of a design program by the start of the program.  They need not be currently enrolled in an academic institution.  


Applicants are required to fill out an application form including a statement, no more than 500 words, expressing her/his interest in the program and computer literacy, four images of current work, and one letter of reference. Admission is on a rolling basis; successful applicants will be accepted based on previous academic work and the written statement, as space allows. We recommend that you submit your application as early as possible. Applicants may access the online application here

Cost and Fees

Program Cost: $4,000: Includes access to computer labs, plotters and printers, fabrication shop, and studios. Students will be responsible for purchasing supplies and printing fees as applicable.

Application Fee: $40*

Successful applicants will be responsible for paying the program cost in full upon acceptance.* 


Housing is not available during the summer sessions through The Cooper Union. Applicants will be responsible for securing other housing options. Please visit here for potential housing options.



Digital surfaces are aggregates that mask and reveal their construction in particular ways. The differential geometry that structures their measurement and manipulation gives discrete control while visually remaining continuous. Another way of designating this mixed status is that they are collages. A particular history of surrealist collage via Max Ernst links into artists such as Tim Hawkinson, Jiri Kolar, and Gerhard Richter, offering an alternate manner in which to consider the nature of a digital model’s “seams of continuity” through an aesthetic investigation. This session will create a series of digital/material collages.
Specific Objects
Increasingly, objects are being designed to evolve in the presence of information. What is the role of matter in the design process? How do objects, both real and virtual communicate, interface and distribute in space according to their specific properties? What are our design aspirations for the role of aesthetics, technology, craft and the individuation of the technical object?This session will create a series of physical objects.
Bible Scenes on Google Earth, Stormtroopers in a Parking Lot, and Photos of Models of Photos
Some strange things are happening in visual culture these days. Whether it is in the world of advertisement, public relations, or the fine arts, the boundary between the real and the imaginary is increasingly uncertain. This session focuses attention on what has unexpectedly emerged as a new realist style that has nothing to do with banality and objectivity, but everything to do with speculation and estrangement. We can make the observation that the architectural rendering has always been a weird form of realism. Despite its proud history, renderings have recently succumbed to bad visual habits and cynical repetition. Can we learn from contemporary visual culture and overcome some of our rendering clichés?This session will create a series of rendered scenarios.
Animate Abstract Matter
Computational procedures are abstractions that claim a particular aesthetic territory. The primary operative layer of algorithms is obscured, encoded in the grains of products and affects. Their expressivity lays in trespassing the limits of evolving forms in relationship to shaping forces of material manifestations.  A closer examination in the parallels between the animate behaviors of matter and the emergent phenomena in simple software reveals the potential of a unified craft of self-organization.  Beyond the explicit and key-framed notion of time, algorithmic procedures can embody multidimensional dynamics in the generation of form.  The associated drawing in this type of exploration is in fact, a meta-animation, namely a cross-section through a phase-space of possibilities. This session will create a series of computational animations.
Masterclass Leaders have included:
Jason Payne, Ferda Kolatan, Kutan Ayata, Ezio Blasetti, Karel Klein, Katrin Mueller Russo, Rhett Russo, David Ruy, Danielle Willems, Michael Young

Frequently Asked Questions
• I do not have any architecture experience. Can I participate?
Some experience and a facility with design software is necessary for the Masterclass in Digital Architecture. However, this course seeks to engage diverse fields of study including the arts and digital humanities. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility, please contact
• Are there any specific math or engineering skills necessary? What about computer software skills?
Applicants to the Masterclass must demonstrate an understanding of contemporary computational software. Such programs may include Rhino, Maya, After Effects and the Adobe Creative Suite. Students are not required to be familiar with all programs, but should have experience with at least two. 
• Can I work while attending the program? What if I have to miss a class?
Programs are full-time, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Attendance at class meetings is mandatory and students should expect to spend time outside of class meetings developing their projects. Full participation is necessary to successfully complete the course and earn credit. 
• What happens after the program ends?
The Masterclass will prepare students for further study in the field of digital architecture, which can be used towards pursuing a professional or post-professional degree.
• I am an international student. May I apply to the Summer Programs?
As of now the 2014 summer session cannot accept international students seeking an I-20 Visa. International students who hold an I-20 Visa from another institution may attend The Cooper Union during the summer. To discuss alternative visa options please contact John Falls, Assistant Dean of Admissions, at (212)353-4192 or
• Are scholarships available?
Scholarships and Financial Aid are not available for the Summer Programs at The Cooper Union.
• How do I find housing in New York City?
Please visit our Other Housing Options page for assistance in finding potential housing.
• What equipment and/or materials will I need to bring?
All accepted students to the Summer Programs are expected to have a personal laptop and will be responsible for basic studio tools and supplies. Students will be provided with a detailed list of required supplies before the first class. There are several art supply stores in the neighborhood that offer student discounts on tools and materials. Students will be provided with their own individual studio workspace as well as access to facilities such as the computer studio and fabrication shop.   
• Can credit from the Summer Programs later be applied towards a bachelor’s or master's degree?
The Cooper Union is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) and the School of Architecture is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Students will recieve a transcript for credits earned; credits are transferred at the discretion of the student’s home institution or the prospective institution the student is applying to.
For any further questions please contact

* Except in cases in which classes are cancelled, all application fees and program costs are non-refundable.
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