My recent posts at World-Architects


Monday, February 05, 2007

4 More Classes

Like last semester, here's a description of the four classes I have this Spring in the Urban Design Program (PDF link) at City College (part of CUNY). The department is headed by Michael Sorkin and is two semesters in length.

Urban Design Studio
This semester's studio is a continuation of the Fall studio, with the exception that we're working directly with the graduate students in the Landscape Architecture Program, something that should help greatly in the sustainable nature of the plan. We continue work on the design of a "self-sufficient" town in Ecuador, in particular a design for a post-petroleum economy. After last semester's visit to the town and our intermediate reviews, we have a better handle on the direction we need to take, though we have plenty of research and design work to do to get there. The semester-long effort is split between research, individual design projects, and a group effort on the town's masterplan. The studio is still taught by Sorkin.
History of Paris
This class "follows the architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture of the city of encourage and instruct students in the craft of research and analysis of ... documents for history, social, and cultural values and the history of ideas." The class is structured via a series of readings on the city's different eras (Medieval, Baroque, Fin de Siecle, etc.) and parallel mapping projects that will illustrate the urban morphology of Paris by the end of the semester. Unfortunately, a field trip isn't part of the class. The class is taught by Jerrilynn Dodds.
Ethnography of Place and Space: Landscapes of Fear
This class at CUNY's Graduate Center may prove to be the semester's most interesting one, though also its most intensive and difficult. Due to the cold weather, the first half will focus on theoretical readings culled primarily from a reader on the anthropology of space and place; the second half will move outdoors for field research (observing, mapping, interviewing), an important ingredient in ethnography. Additionally, each student is required to read an ethnography and write a critical response. Issues we will look at include: how we structure space, how space is inscribed with moral significance, how we exist in more than one space simultaneously (translocal), how space is racialized and gendered, and how public space is contested. The class is taught by Setha Low.
City & Self
This class looks at four cities -- ancient Athens and Jerusalem, modern Paris and New York -- and how they've "generated many of our most powerful ideas of what it is to be a person and to lead a meaningful life." We will "explore some of these ideas and try to understand how they have been shaped by the forms of urban life that they grew out of." The reading list for this class is wonderfully varied: The Last Days of Socrates by Plato, the Bible, Baudelaire's The Parisian Prowler, The Nineteenth Century Visual Culture Reader, The Great Gatsby, Writing New York and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, as well as numerous handouts from other sources. Regardless, it's difficult to grasp this class's intent. As well, with it being taught by Marshall Berman, the course should be quite a journey, its meaning unfolding from week to week.


  1. Sounds fascinating - I'm tinged with envy ;)
    Could I recommend adding to your Parisian reading list, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"? There are some wonderful descriptions of what architecture is all about in there. Although I guess it's more about architecture-as-building than architecture-as-urban-design, so maybe it's a red herring.
    Also - why Jerusalem?

  2. Can't really say about Jerusalem, though I should find out in a few weeks when we get there. This class, more overtly than the others, puts a lot of faith in the prof. And I think we have a reading out of Hunchback for the Paris class.

  3. Im in jerusalem and I love your blog, so thats cool news :)
    I recommend Yehuda Amichai, who's poems and works all center on jerusalem's roles ancient and modern.

    "Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity".
    The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, University of California Press 1996

  4. Thanks for the recommendation, anon. I'll look into that book.


Comments are moderated for spam.