The GSAPP Incubator is a launch pad for new ideas and projects about architecture, culture, and the city. Drawing on Columbia GSAPP guest lecturers, discourse, and studio culture, the Incubator hosts and encourages a wide range of experiments initiated by recent Columbia GSAPP graduates. Targeted projects combine action with discussion at the levels of the university, the city, and local ways of life.
The GSAPP Incubator offers a platform for entrepreneurship and expanded modes of practice. Yet it is distinct from other incubators and co-working spaces in several ways. The Incubator includes the humanities as well as the sciences. It involves critique and discourse as well as action and technology. It generates deep thinking as well as concise elevator pitches. And it uses measures of success beyond profit and growth.
The Incubator is anchored by alumni members and projects, and it is part of a broader ecosystem of Columbia GSAPP research and production. The Incubator is directed by Assistant Professor David Benjamin M.Arch '05 and located at 231 Bowery, as part of NEW INC, the world’s first museum-led incubator created by the New Museum.
A+A+A is Andrea Chiney, Arianna Deane, and Ashely Kuo. As a team, they are interested in work that is fun, accessible, and grounded in the social impact of design through a community-driven approach. A+A+A is passionate about pursuing projects that bring agency to underserved communities. They look forward to developing a practice of process-based architecture that is both socially responsible and economically sustainable. Ultimately, A+A+A is interested in small interventions that create a large impact by enlivening everyday experiences.
Architecture and Advocacy (AAA) is a not-for-profit design, research, and media practice founded by Caitlin Blanchfield and Farzin Lotfi-Jam. Understanding architecture as a representational and analytical tool often leveraged to the benefit of both clients and developers, AAA proposes a model by which architectural practitioners can direct their services towards the communities, coalitions, and causes they want to support. Operating through partnership and collaboration, AAA directs architectural knowledge and practice to social and political urgencies by allying with grassroots and activist organizations in spatial advocacy projects—from tactical media campaigns, to drawing sets, to white papers. Initial ventures include an audit of predatory eviction tactics used by New York City landlords and an investigative report into the contracted companies participating in the creation of migrant detention facilities on the US-Mexico border.
Taking Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theatre as primary reference, Epic Architecture aims to encourage architects to address current polemical issues from the discipline, the city, and beyond. The idea is to create and explore architectural artefacts that do more than resolve problems and render them visible, more than show good intentions. To explore artefacts that raise questions that instead of being pragmatic are designed to create an estrangement effect, that is, moments of revelation that will transform their users into critical observers of architecture and reality. The Book of Sins is a project that explores architecture traditionally associated with the seven deadly sins (lust, greed, sloth, envy, gluttony, wrath, pride), a collection of typologies that have been systematically overlooked by the discipline due to their historical bad reputation. The Book of Sins is also an initiative that vindicates the construction of desire in architecture as a driving force for design, giving special attention to the technologies of negotiation that these spaces develop in order to relate to their users and the urban environment.
DUO (Datalink to Unobstructed Observations): A Memory Care Project proposed by Yung-Yi Juliet Chou (MS.HP and PhD in Cognitive Psychology), founder of glyfeinLab, aims to demonstrate what/where to extract new ideas from old knowledge through numerous persistent observations of mundane activities in the human mind. At the GSAPP Incubator, DUO will develop a neural network decision support system that helps connect laypeople with architects, preservationists, and conservators alike to answer some fundamental questions concerning judgment and measurement in good design in public/private spaces. For example, what is a timeless way to preserve sites/buildings? What kind of added value can crowdsourced knowledge from different perspectives (professionals vs. laypeople) provide on evolving preservation concepts and treatments? How do we map emotions and sensations in the memory structure of places?
Architecture Unseen is an initiative founded by Emily Oppenheim and Sharon Leung. Their work and research address various building typologies that emerged during the first half of the 20th century. The research project is positioned on the periphery of architectural discourse, at the intersection of established fields of the profession of architecture. It focuses on the history and reasoning behind the tower typology, widely rejected in major cities across Europe while embraced in America during the same era. The work will investigate building systems, such as air conditioning, as a transformative force of modern architecture.
Galen Pardee is a designer, educator, and researcher living in New York City. His research and design explores the issues of character and placemaking, as well as the cultural and political forces that shape architectural and urban practice. The project Territories of Territory Extraction explores the Singapore Strait: a unique pressure point in the international sand trade, an area where economics, environmentalism, and geopolitics are made manifest through architecture. Singapore is the largest global importer of sand, using aggregate for landfill, infrastructure, and cultural projects to maintain the city-state’s standard of living and international influence. As sand miners dredge islands beneath the waves, national borders are being re-drawn wholesale, with economic, spatial, and political aftershocks on both sides of the ledger. Singapore’s tale should be precautionary. Territories of Territory Extraction examines a future that has arrived ahead of schedule, and lays the groundwork for architecture in an era of fundamental scarcity.
Granha is fundamentally grounded in two things: the way technology is transforming collaboration in the workplace and changing attitudes towards work and life integration. In the next five years, organizational changes will dramatically alter company’s real estate requirements. For companies, providing flexibility for where, when, and how work happens will be critical in attracting the best talent. Granha is developing a new typology of real estate, combining the design and services you’d find in a “Googleplex” style office (collaborative workspaces, quiet areas for deep thinking, and amenities focused on employee experience) with wellness resorts on the outskirts of major business hubs. We want to create new spaces where today’s urban workforce (employees, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and creatives) can be productive but also removed enough in nature that they break from the stress of their everyday routine and replace it with a sense of wellness, wellbeing, and community.
Housing India is a fortnightly blog, which delves into the existing housing policies of India. Taking each policy at a time, this blog aims to suggest ways in which these policies can be made more efficient to make room for more quality, affordable homes in India. The vision that is the driving force behind this blog is providing each Indian with a place to call home. Combining in-depth policy analysis with gripping visuals, the blog targets a diverse range of people, cutting across language, culture, and socio-economic standing. The end product is a feature article that conveys the current housing scenario in the country, and the ways in which it can be improved ahead of the general elections in 2019.
Karen Kubey is an urbanist and architectural educator specializing in housing and health. She co-founded the Architecture for Humanity New York chapter and New Housing New York, and was the first executive director of the Institute for Public Architecture. Karen guest-edited the July/August 2018 volume of Architectural Design (AD), Housing as Intervention: Architecture towards Social Equity, and has recently led a series of projects that address social equity through design in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department for the Aging, Housing Authority and Public Design Commission. While in residence at the GSAPP Incubator, Karen will further develop her practice toward the goal of ending racial and economic disparities in health in New York City. Amidst appalling health disparities and dwindling public support for well-designed housing, Karen can think of no more urgent issue in architecture than asserting our discipline’s value in the realm of public health.
After the recent riots and political instability in Nicaragua, the Knitknot Architecture collective has begun researching earth construction techniques that aim to assist in building schools in rural areas of Managua. Knitknot’s current research project, From prototype to type. A Building-Manual for collaborative design, aims to merge collective thinking with an investigation of construction systems, materials, and practice organization. It also works to improve upon the earthbag construction techniques that were used in El Jicarito School, taking into account the lack of accessible construction materials and tools, and incorporating more efficient responses to earthquake risks. With the economic support of Pratt Institute’s Faculty Development Fund, Knitknot will test some of the manual’s propositions. By Spring ’19, Knitknot will build an earthbag structure to help raise awareness about the current deadly protests in Nicaragua, and fundraise for the NGO Seeds of Learning, the organization responsible for constructing El Jicarito School.
LAURA GONZALEZ FIERRO +ADD
+ADD's line of work is anchored on the understanding of the built environment as a physical and cultural landscape with material and social repercussions. Reacting to aspects of place, time, function, and client goals we place materials and methods of construction above formal assumptions. The studio aims to identify and employ relevant crafts and technologies, through an ongoing research complemented by the built work, which provides a three dimensional laboratory that cannot be represented through other methods. In this context, aspects like functionality and efficiency are given priority over design theory, ensuring a successful physical experience. Good design should be forceful but not imposing; it should both structure and improve lives. Good design should possess tenacity but must also transcend that determination to enrich the human experience. Our objective is to understand our clients’ needs, apply our knowledge in construction and fabrication, and pay attention to details to discover new approaches toward design. Laura Gonzalez Fierro's practice is complemented by built projects from the studio and research and proposals from the Lab. For the last decade they’ve been consistently involved in both aspects with the ambition to bring them together, rethinking architecture’s frontiers in the physical environment and in relation to other disciplines.
MARCEL DEL SIGNORE
The leveraging of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) at the intersection of architecture and urbanism allows for imagining scenarios for future resilient cities. The systemic integration of ICTs in cities has started to catalyze urban strategies that respond to today’s social and ecological challenges. The practice of designing cities is increasingly responsive, adaptive, and networked to propose a model beyond the ‘smart city’ as a result of a pure technological deterministic approach. On the contrary, we are witnessing urban protocols that are soft, receptive, reactive, and most importantly, grounded in local urban challenges. Marcella del Signore’s work focuses on the notion of ‘TECHNOLOGICAL RESILIENCE’ as a set of strategies and urban protocols that investigate how ICTs implemented through systemic approaches can be a powerful tool to foster resilience in vulnerable ecosystems. In particular, their research will focus on the development of a TAXONOMY of RESILIENT ICTs integrated design strategies through key topics of investigation: DATA tracking and visualization, SENSING/ACTUATING technologies in territorial systems, CITIZEN-ENGAGED SCIENCE, SMART ENERGY GRIDS and SENTIENT MOBILITY.
Our Co is a cooperative design practice with expertise in design strategy, architecture, urban design, graphic design, fabrication, research, and communication. Our Co’s participation in a project can be specific to a phase or specialty, working anywhere from concept to completion with an expanded network of collaborators and partnerships. Uniquely adapted teams are assembled to the demands of each project, allowing the cooperative to undertake complex work requiring a diverse range of knowledge while retaining the agility, value, and responsiveness of a small office. Our Co’s organization as a cooperative aims to support equity, shared ownership, and collaboration at a time when power is more often designed to be centralized and exclusionary.
Rajiv Fernandez illustrates icons and publishes them in themed sets, most notably by city. They are playful representations of the places we find ourselves and experience. He is currently developing two books on new architectural icons and the NYC subway system. He is experimenting with product development through means of technologies such as laser cut and 3D printing. In his children's book, Baby to Brooklyn, he illustrates how structures and buildings can be viewed from different perspectives.
SOE is a preservation studio that tackles experimental projects at the pivotal intersection of technology, architecture, history, and culture. SOE aims to develop strategies to further democratize architectural heritage and serve the communities in which they work by increasing access to and inclusion in preservation projects, and brings the field into the twenty-first century by testing and utilizing emerging digital technologies such as laser scanning, photogrammetry, photography, and mixed/virtual reality. In addition to designing an Augmented Reality application for the San Baudelio de Berlanga Hermitage in Spain, SOE will also develop innovative educational programming, exhibitions, and publications related to our preservation efforts.
WOLFGANG AND HITE
Wolfgang and Hite is a design practice composed of architects, builders, and engineers. Their goal is to produce immersive projects that entertain and enhance everyday life. For the 2018-2019 season, their work will focus on the Van Alen competition for the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Installation, an industrial design project for Red Bull, and a large-scale art installation in Southampton in addition to independent projects on the concept of pleasure and public space.