Conceiving the Plan: Nuance and Intimacy in the Construction of Civic Space

Thu, Apr 7, 6:30pm - Fri, Apr 29, 2022 7pm

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Trading, Tracing, and Telling Stories: The Alchemies of Exchange. Catherine Ann Somerville Venart.


Time Clouds: Playground and Archaeology Garden. Georg Windeck

In Honor of Diane Lewis (1951 –2017)

First exhibited as part of the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia October 8 – November 21, 2021


In a series of post-2020 civic architecture projects for different sites, Conceiving the Plan inaugurates a dialogue with the legacy of the late architect and longtime Cooper Union Professor Diane Lewis AR’76. It asks the following questions: How can civic spaces be imbued with nuance? In what ways does such a quality persist in the city? Can one discuss intimacy in architectural terms? In her built and unbuilt works, teaching, and writing, Diane Lewis upheld the capacity of architecture to profoundly and intimately embody our collective life. For Lewis, the city was not only the result of a great number of inextricable historical strata of form and memory, it was also a proposition about a moral and ethical life together. She approached the city as a mental universe all its own, greater than the sum of its individual architectures. Her unique presence—her unmistakable voice—is among the most characteristic distillations of the architectural “message” of The Cooper Union from the 1970s to the mid-2010s.

For this exhibition, architects, former students, colleagues, and friends have generated comprehensive projects for civic space engaging Lewis’ pedagogy, carrying her legacy into contemporary dialogues. They touch on critical questions—literary, ecological, social, and metahistorical—providing and provoking spatial civic identities. Thus, they are also inseparable from deeply involved critical approaches to architectural pedagogy.

Projects include Angel Alley by David Turnbull; The City in the House by Preston Scott Cohen, Harvard University; Healing Object: Unmasking Novel Domestic Urbanism by Mersiha Veledar AR’03, The Cooper Union; Landscape as a Support by Dieter Dietz, Teresa Cheung, Patricia Guaita, Lucia Jalon Oyarzun, Ruben Valdez, and Daniel Zamarbide, ALICE EPFL; Parasituation [Edinburgh] Waverley Gardens by Dorian Wiszniewski, Kevin Adams, Neil Cunning, Chris French, Maria Mitsoula, Paul Pattinson, and Leo Xian, The University of Edinburgh; The Siskiyou Trail: A Right to Return by Uri Wegman AR’08, and Laila Seewang AR’05, EPFL, Portland State University; Star Stories by Sotirios Kotoulas AR’03; Time Clouds: Playground and Archaeology Garden by Georg Windeck; Timescape Garden by Peter Lynch AR'84, Anna Asplind, Martin Heidesjö, and Mats Nordahl; Trading, Tracing, and Telling: The Alchemies of Exchange by Catherine Ann Somerville Venart, Dalhousie University; TS 1: A Talking Station for Tempelhofer Feld by Holger Kleine AR’90, Hochschule RheinMain; and Will We Live Together? Redeeming the Hotel House Ghetto Tower into the Ideal Vertical Village by Pippo Ciorra, Marco D’Annuntiis, Luca Di Lorenzo Latini, Sara D’Ottavi, Gilda Tormenti, Claudia Vagnozzi, and Martina Pompei, SAAD University of Camerino.

This exhibition was conceived by Yael Hameiri Sainsaux AR’10 and is accompanied by a SKIRA publication. Contributors include Barry Bergdoll and ​Daniel Sherer. Matthew Hitscherich AR’12, David Huber AR’10, and Peter Schubert served as advisors.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a daylong symposium titled Nuance and Intimacy in Civic Space will be held on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at The Cooper Union. 

Free and Open to the Public

*Building Access Requirements: Exhibition visitors are required to show proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination and booster and must wear a CDC-recommended mask (disposable surgical, KN95, KF94, or N95) while indoors. Cloth masks alone are not permitted, but may be worn as a second layer over a disposable surgical mask. Lowering masks for the purpose of eating and drinking at the opening reception will be allowed.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Friday 2 pm – 7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12 pm – 7 pm

Located in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, 7 East 7th Street, 2nd Floor, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • 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.