Selected Undergraduate Design Studio Projects--Design III Fall 2014


Professors Stephen Rustow, Samuel Anderson, Ashok Raiji, Tamar Zinguer, Sofia Krimizi

The third year studio introduces building typologies of greater complexity than those treated in the first two years and develops both analytical and design skills around a comprehensive consideration of site, program, movement, structure, and environmental conditions. Fall and spring semesters of the third year are closely interrelated and the elements of analysis that are developed in the fall inform the integrated components of a design response to a specific site and program in the spring. The pedagogical arc of the year reinforces a deep understanding of the reciprocal relationship between description and projection – analysis and design.

This year, the 20th century buildings chosen as references were selected not for their typological commonalities but rather for their particular historical status as projects outside the mainstream canon of modernism, part of a group the critic Reyner Banham once called “the Silent Zone.”  These projects reflect a variety of programs and scales, but all embodied a radical gesture, revolutionary in nature and powerful in defying conventions.  They were also buildings made for public programs – collective environments for individual experience. The design challenge of such programs is to devise a method for moving beyond the architect's personal experience and convictions to a full engagement with the public nature of the program and the needs and desires of an unknown group of others.

During the first half of the semester students interrogated their references directly. Working in pairs, they produced a full documentation of the building in plans, sections and elevations, synthesized from diverse archival sources. Once the documentation was complete they worked individually, spending a month intensively considering the building in terms of four general categories of analysis: movement, structure, program and environment.

Underlying all four of these categories of investigation was the question of site. One of the questions provoked by the analysis of historical references is the nature of the pre-existing condition, and how the architect has transformed it through the process of design. The explorations of the last weeks of the semester were conceived as a disciplined speculation on an ‘original’ site condition that could be imagined as anticipating the building’s design, or inviting it, and which might still be discerned or uncovered, even after the building’s construction. Seen in these terms, analysis works projectively towards a gradual comprehension of site and the preconditions for design.


  • 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.