School of Architecture Moves Lecture Series Online

POSTED ON: March 20, 2020

Although students are still on spring break, The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture has already taken steps to ensure that students’ educations continue uninterrupted during the upcoming weeks of virtual learning. Below Dean Nader Tehrani and Assistant Professor Lorena del Rio weigh in on the ways that online resources can provide expanded opportunities. A case in point is the lecture given by the architect Jan de Vylder on March 18. Although he was scheduled to speak at Cooper later this semester, he instead spoke to an expanded audience through an online lecture at Cornell. Similar events are forthcoming thanks to the efforts of faculty and staff working in concert with other schools of architecture to continue to foster rigorous content and discussion during this unprecedented event.

“Online collaborative practices are nothing new,” said Dean Nader Tehrani. “Some of us have been taking them on for years. What we did not know is the degree to which they might become critical in times of urgency. Now, as we face the dire conditions of isolation under the wrath of COVID-19, we have been trying to bring others on board: to share, discuss, draw, and communicate by way of alternative media. Studio learning might end up being the most challenging, but we will experiment and explore, inviting failure along the way. Yesterday we launched our first lecture to share with a variety of schools, with Jan de Vylder, who spoke at Cornell, but to an expanded audience of Cornell and Cooper Union students, and perchance those from many other schools. If this works well, it will only expand our ability to understand its agency, and how to think differently about it once the age of COVID-19 is behind us.”

“In this unique moment we are all witnessing worldwide we want to focus all our effort on keeping our community together, active, and intellectually stimulated,” said Lorena Del Rio, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the 2019-2020 Lecture Series. “We are working to maintain as many public events from our 2020 Spring Semester Series as possible, joining forces with other institutions and embracing an unprecedented situation. Jan de Vylder's lecture yesterday was not only the first one to go virtual, but it also presented an opportunity to unite from our isolation in different parts of the world and still feel connected as one big architecture community.”

  • 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.