GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2008 - STU-01308-00
01308: UNAM de CENTRAL LIBRARY (STU 0130800)
Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Thursday 12:00 - 4:00
Wednesday 2:00 - 6:00
UNAM deCENTRAL LIBRARY _Integrated Studio
Synopsis: This architecture design studio will use The National Autonomous University of Mexico's (UNAM's) campus in Mexico City as a site for political provocation and architectural invention. Students will design a decentralized network of small library buildings, redefined as nodes for interdepartmental collaboration and integration. The studio will be taught as an integrated studio in consultation with engineers, including Mahadev Raman of Arup and Paul Kassabian of Simpson Gumpertz & Hager, with a specific focus on innovative uses of concrete. During the studio trip we will visit canonical works of architecture and meet with architects and academics in Mexico City.
UNAM: Centralized Campus
The UNAM Central Library celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006. With 428,000 volumes, the library serves a population of 270,000 students and 34,000 faculty -- the largest university in the Americas. To compare these figures with our local context, The Harvard University Library system -- the fourth largest in the world - contains 15 million volumes, serving only 19,500 students and 2,400 faculty.
Although now a challenge to growth and change, the centralization of UNAM's cultural institutions and clear zoning of faculties, sports and other amenities was emblematic of planning ideals at the time of the campus' inception in 1952. The campus (referred to as the CU: Ciudad Universitaria, or "University City") is an urban enclave within which buildings are compositionally placed upon a large pedestrian open space. In addition to a canonically Modern spatial and programmatic distribution, the high architectural quality of its reinforced concrete and masonry buildings earned the CU a classification in 2007 by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, praising it as "a unique example of 20th-century modernism, integrating urbanism, architecture, engineering, landscape design and fine arts with references to local traditions, especially to Mexico's pre-Hispanic past." Along with Brasilia and the Sydney Opera House, UNAM is one of a very small handful of Modernist sites on UNESCO's list.
While the CU as a physical site has remained largely unchanged in half a century, campus life has often been in a state of upheaval. Universities are among the most political institutions in society, serving as battlegrounds for power at scales ranging from the classroom to the state. At UNAM the military occupation and student massacre of 1968 in Tlatelolco still resonate, punctuating the semester with political activism, suspension of classes for long durations, and culminating most recently in the 292 day student strike of 1999.
The studio will navigate between opportunities for change and the limits of working within a politically and historically sensitive context. Although the campus is still largely effective and appreciated by its users, large distances resulting from centralization pose challenges to social and spatial cohesion. We will address the legacies and opportunities of Modernism through the design of a new educational and transportation network.
PROGRAM: de-Central Library
UNAM de-Central Library will be conceived as a dispersed and interconnected complement to the Central Library. Each student will design a network of 5 smaller library buildings, inserted at strategic points in the campus, ultimately focusing on one 30,000sf building in detail. In addition to their smaller collections, these library nodes will differ typologically from the Central Library in expanded institutional and infrastructural agendas.
As new areas of research expand beyond current disciplinary limitations, there is a growing trend in universities of collaboration between departments on special projects. In response to a need for more space and flexibility, the library's
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