One, Two, Few—Architectonics Final Reviews

POSTED ON: May 4, 2020


On Thursday, April 30th the first year Architectonics studio held the School of Architecture’s first final review of the spring semester, led by Professors Ted Baab, Nima Javidi, and Tamar Zinguer. Review guests included Michael Abel, Behnaz Assadi, Ben Aranda, Zach Cohen, Nile Greenberg, James Lowder, Elizabeth O'Donnell, Julian Palacio, Nader Tehrani, and Mersiha Veledar.

Thumb 01RThe guiding principles of the studio were driven by the theme One, Two, Few. How many parts are required to make one? Is two a pair, or two parts of a whole? Does few mean there are too many or not enough? When does a group start behaving like a single? One, Two, Few is a series, a progression of increasing number and complexity. But it is also One Too Few: not enough, or a test of economy and precision.

What characterizes logics of one, two, or few? What architectural potencies are native to each? Through the organization of plan and section, these logics paradoxically produce multiple, simultaneous, and often irreconcilable organizations and behaviors. These are not accidents to avoid, but the properties of geometric precision to harness.

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This semester the Architectonics studio investigated what happens when individuals double and multiply, when pairs must cooperate, when two becomes three, and when three is also one. The studio used an explicit set of abstract geometric rules and their behaviors. The world of design was structured by the forms the students learned to generate and control with precision. Geometry was understood not as primitives (cones, pyramids, spheres) to be composed, but as parameters to be manipulated.

Thumb 02The abstraction of geometry (and its demand for rules) contended with architectural agency and scale through its transformation of the seemingly mundane problem of stairs. Stairs were examined in precedents to become experts in their anatomy and power to organize spaces around them. Confronted by the predicament of the stair, geometry must become architectural.


Ted Baab, Nima Javidi
  • 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.