Laboratory School, Stacking, Pragmatism, …

This architecture studio will be composed of three distinct and interrelated parts in working toward a design project.

1. A Laboratory School
This studio will focus on rethinking the scope and scale of a specific educational program: the laboratory school. Students will reimagine a new type of primary public school for Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus, drawing on historic precedents including pragmatist John and Alice Chipman Dewey’s Laboratory School (1896–1903) at the University of Chicago. The analysis and representation of additional historic and contemporary education buildings—ranging from one-room schoolhouses to demountable classrooms to large-scale, H- and M-type centralized school district buildings—will provide the basis for subsequent work. Students will work through architectural drawings, large-scale paper models, and photography.

2. Stacking
Designing for a metropolitan site, and within a larger university campus, students will confront an urban neighborhood that demands the stacking of school programming. Problematizing prevailing organizational types that privilege single-story structures, corridors as social space, and peripheral connections to landscape/nature, this design methodology will diverge from existing references while acknowledging the American school’s design through the constraints of typical block dimensions.

3. Pragmatism
Students will revisit, almost 20 years later, the Museum of Modern Art conference “Things in the Making” and other early aughts discourse around pragmatism. Examining various contemporaneous publications and lectures, students will be asked to think about the shift in architectural methodologies and techniques toward social and constructional instrumentality. Particular attention will be paid to the similarities and differences of Pragmatist thought as it influenced the development of 20th-century educational programs, aesthetics and “Art as Experience,” and new architectural types.


This course has an irregular meeting schedule. 

This studio will meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on the following dates throughout the semester: August 29, 30; September 10, 11, 24, 25; October 15, 16, 29, 30, 31; November 1, 12, 13, 25, 26, and for final reviews.  

Hilary Sample will be in residence at least six of the weeks that the studio is in session. 

Michael Meredith will participate as a guest lecturer. 

Paul Ruppert and Lafina Eptaminitaki will offer workshops on two of the weeks that the studio is in session.  

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