Exhibition Event — Lebbeus Woods: Zagreb Free Zone Revisited

POSTED ON: April 9, 2021

On April 13, at 12 pm EDT (6 pm CET) the Oris House of Architecture will broadcast an online opening event for its current exhibition Lebbeus Woods: Zagreb Free Zone Revisited. This exhibition recreates Zagreb Free Zone—a show originally held at the Zagreb Museum of Arts and Crafts (MUO) in 1991 by former School of Architecture faculty member Lebbeus Woods (1940 – 2012).

 Zagreb Free Zone, 1991

Woods taught at The Cooper Union for 25 years, and his commitment to educating architects is extensively documented in the School of Architecture’s Student Work Collection database. The School is also working closely with the Estate of Lebbeus Woods to finalize a donation of his pedagogical records to the Architecture Archive. These records, which document his design studios and seminars at The Cooper Union, will be available for educational and research use. 

Lebbeus Woods: Zagreb Free Zone Revisited presents the same set of large prints shown 30 years ago at MUO. As a companion to the exhibition, an extensive monograph traces Woods’ subsequent work on the project, including original drawings, notebooks, models, and documents related to the planned construction of a Freespace structure in Zagreb.

    Zagreb Free Zone, 1991

Event participants are Joseph Becker and Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art); Maristella Casciato (The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles); Steven Holl (Steven Holl Architects, New York); Peter Noever (Noever Design, Vienna); Leo Modrčin, Lovorka Prpić and Fedja Vukić (Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb); Andrija Rusan (Oris House of Architecture); Sven Sorić (graphic designer, Zagreb), and Aleksandra Wagner (Executor of the Estate of Lebbeus Woods).

The exhibition is co-organized by the University of Zagreb Faculty of Architecture, Oris House of Architecture, and the Estate of Lebbeus Woods, New York, with the Zagreb Museum of Arts and Crafts as the exhibition partner. The project also received support from the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia

The exhibition’s catalogue Lebbeus Woods: Zagreb Free Zone Revisited—edited by Leo Modrčin, Lovorka Prpić, and Aleksandra Wagner—can be purchased through the Oris House of Architecture. 

Zagreb Free Zone, 1991

The exhibition is on view through April 24, 2021 at the Oris House of Architecture (Kralja Držislava 3) in Zagreb, Croatia. 

Inset drawings by Lebbeus Woods, © Estate of Lebbeus Woods.

Ja Architecture Studio Receives P/A Award

POSTED ON: March 25, 2021

Ja Architecture Studio, a Toronto-based practice established by Visiting Professor Nima Javidi and Behnaz Assadi, has received a Progressive Architecture Award for Wardell, a recently completed residential addition on Wardell street in Toronto.

01The project began as a side-yard extension to an existing two-story house on a triangular lot. Wardell “finds its identity through accentuating an anomalous urban condition,” according to the Studio. “Tucked into the wedge shaped lot, the two-storey side addition mediates between the string of two-storey mansard roof row houses, and the rear yard of the house on the corner…The curved wall creates a cleave between the existing house and the new addition and adds a visual cue that leads from the front walkout, through a passage under the recessed bridge that connects the two volumes to the sunken rear yard terrace and garden.”

P/A jurors embraced this approach, noting that the project’s “steel-and-wood-framed addition allows the architects maximum flexibility in their willful form-making. At the same time, their decision to clad every exterior surface in brick allows the bold shape to play well with its more prosaic neighbors. The simple, straightforward design on a tricky site is both evocative and poetic, transforming an ordinary material typical of the neighborhood into something memorable both inside and out."


In December 2020, Wardell also received an Award of Excellence from Canadian Architect. A juror there described the project as “a little jewel in the middle of the city,” noting that “the designers could have just added to the existing house, but they created a separate object with a versatile space between…The sculptural shape is complemented by a very interesting tectonic approach that does something different with brick.”


What is a Monument?

POSTED ON: February 22, 2021

Still from Seneca Village: The Forgotten Community, by Laela Baker

Still from Seneca Village: The Forgotten Community, by Laela Baker

For her fall 2020 History of Architecture course, Associate Professor Tamar Zinguer asked of her students: “How could a monument reflect the changing values of a dynamic society? Should a monument set in stone still stand if it reflects an intense amnesia and public forgetting? Does a monument need to be constructed, built and tangible, or could it be intangible, testifying to cultural heritage alone? Furthermore, could an artifact that is deemed to be a National Historic Landmark, for example, be relevant for a diverse society and reflect that all of history matters?”

The students, many of whom were residing outside of New York during the course, were prompted by Zinguer “to identify a site, or a building that interests you and…to research its history [and] present the contested ideas behind its appreciation or lack of it…” This research culminated in a 10-12 minute film created by each student as their final project for the course. Two of these films, made by students who remained in New York City, are presented here—Seneca Village: The Forgotten Community, by Laela Baker; and Deli: A Modern Monument of New York City, by Denise Cholula and Ru Jia.

Zinguer notes of Baker's film: “In 1825 African Americans began settling in Seneca Village, a five-acre plot of land from 82nd to 89th Street, between Central Park West and the road marking 7th Avenue before the Park was drawn. Some were upper middle-class citizens, who having become landowners, earned the right to vote and were politically involved. This community, which numbered close to 300 inhabitants by 1857 when their land was seized through eminent domain for the construction of Central Park, has been erased and largely ignored. In her film Laela Baker recounts the story of this impressive settlement, the site of which should be regarded as a historic civic monument.”

Cholula and Jia proposed for their monument a ubiquitous New York City institution—the deli. Tracing its origins from the 19th century Jewish delicatessen to its current multicultural incarnation as bodegas and corner stores, their film examines the deli’s design and its importance for neighborhoods and communities throughout the city.

Cover, founded by Alexis Rivas & Jemuel Joseph, featured in Archinect

POSTED ON: February 18, 2021

© Cover Technologies, Inc.

© Cover Technologies, Inc.

The work of School of Architecture graduates Jemuel Joseph and Alexis Rivas, both AR’16, has been featured in Archinect, in a piece addressing their unique approach to productizing prefabrication. Co-founders of Cover, a company that designs, manufactures, and installs backyard homes in Los Angeles, Joseph and Rivas challenge the inefficiencies and high costs of conventional construction, questioning whether the prefabrication of homes in factories can be streamlined to increase productivity and reduce costs. The premise of Cover is that the entire manner in which homes are prefabricated needs to be completely reconsidered.

Cover 01
© Cover Technologies, Inc.

Rivas, having learned from his previous work in construction and prefabrication, and Joseph, who specializes in web development and 3D animation, combined their skills and set out to redesign the methods and materials of prefabrication from the ground up. Understanding the need for technology-driven mass-customization, the two reached out to engineers from companies, including Tesla, SpaceX, and Apple, that use production lines to manufacture their products. The resulting collaboration across disciplines yielded a technology company that builds homes, rather than a conventional architecture firm.

Alexis and Jemuel credit their Cooper Union education for shaping their problem-solving skills. In reflecting on their efforts, Dean Tehrani noted “Alexis and Jemuel demonstrate how their pedagogical challenges involved problems of making that, through their ingenuity, could be scaled up to impact production at the industrial level. In them, I see a conceptual precision — what I like to think is a cornerstone of Cooper culture — that has the ability to impact thinking that can be transposed from the academic realm into practice, indeed changing practice entirely as we know it today.

Cover 02
   © Cover Technologies, Inc.

Summarizing the Cover experience to date, Alexis noted “Home building is slow, expensive, unpredictable, and usually low quality. At Cover, our mission is to make thoughtfully designed and well-built homes for everyone. Homes that improve people's daily lives, reflect our modern way of living, embrace progress, and are uncompromising in their design and performance... What we’re doing is using technology to raise the bar for conventional construction so that this kind of thorough design work can be applied to all homes — not just
the ultra-high-end segment.

 © Cover Technologies, Inc.


  • 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.