Stimulus Package: Post-Crisis Urbanism and Architecture

STIMULUS PACKAGEPost-Crisis Urbanism and ArchitectureRecent events – the widespread collapse of the world\’s financial systems, the continued rise in unemployment, the extensive federal bailout program – have affected not only the immediate future, but will continue to have ramifications for years to come. Yet these circumstances do not have to be seen as altogether negative.In the 1920-30s during the Great Depression came the rise of Depression Deco, Le Corbusier\’s Villa Savoye, and the Empire State Building, as well as the major governmental and institutional projects initiated by FDR. The recession of the 1970s and 1980s led to intellectual and graphic experimentation in the work of a number of architects, including Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, and Rem Koolhaas. Other historic inventions also arose during those periods of distress. During the Great Depression the electron microscope and the jet engine were invented, during the oil shock of 1972-1973, the internet was invented, and during the 1970-80s recession, the cell phone and personal computer were invented. Post-crisis eras are times to rethink and innovate, and as designers, we are in a unique time with the opportunity to redefine our industry in the wake of this crisis. The recent announcement Obama of a stimulus package to provide funds for public works shows that we are on the brink of a potentially historic period in building. Simultaneously, the trend in architecture in recent years has been towards the iconic building, often manifested in designs that are about frivolous form making. However, now even places like Dubai have begun to suffer from the weakened economy, and many developments are on hold or cancelled. In these lean times, we have the chance to redefine the iconic — what does the iconic mean in the absence of irrational exuberance? Can the value of the iconic (and hence also its formal motivations) move beyond the image now that image isn\’t enough? Architecture does not exist in an intellectual vacuum, but is based on the fundamentals of a business model, fabrication, and construction. The process of design should embrace those fundamentals, or what can be referred to as the generics. Throughout the semester, students will work with structural and mechanical consultants, and will be required to simultaneously consider practical as well as theoretical issues. This studio will be broken up into three parts: (1) Research, (2) Masterplanning / Programming, and (3) Design. Hanif Kara will be a consultant for the studio.