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Master of Architecture II Thesis 2019

Assistant Professor Michael Young
Adjunct Assistant Professor Anna Bokov

What Is Contemporary?
To work through a design thesis is to ask the process of creation, to steer, divert, reflect, and problematize an initial set of questions. A thesis project does not seek to conclusively answer these questions which set it on its way; in the most exemplary instances, it resolves itself into a different set of questions informed by the labor and objects of design. This requires knowledge, research, and experimentation in order to establish a position within a discipline's discursive framework. Furthermore, a thesis must engage the pressing issues of one's time. It must ask; What is it to be contemporary?

This is a complex question. Deciding when the contemporary began depends on the issue under discussion. In a certain sense, we may all agree that we are contemporaries, yet disagree completely on what the key issues are defining our shared moment. The process of establishing an architectural thesis by necessity takes a stand on how, when, and why a discipline focuses its attention on one set of issues instead of another. The hope is that in asking these questions a critical discourse can be sparked, leading us to reevaluate assumptions regarding what is contemporary.

The seven thesis projects explore salient ideas of the contemporary in the discipline of architecture. They cover topics such as redefining the relationship between reality and rendering, questioning the plausible degrees of non-synthesis between architectural representations, developing collective sentient apparatuses for experiencing electromagnetic spectrum, blurring boundaries between air and architecture through experiments with translucency, living in symbiosis with plastics, questioning the screen as building facade, and interrogating the familiar by manipulating the architectural background.

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Projects & Links

  • 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.