Global Metropolis Program Description
Degree: Columbia University
Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design
A joint program of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University (GSAPP)
and Moscow Architectural Institute (MARKHI)
This program invites students to imagine improved urban and architectural forms that overcome the constraints of today’s global city. Through their focused design research, the students will be challenged to project strategies that deal with the emergent needs of a global urban environment that is growing at a staggering pace. The main focus of the program is globalization and its urban impact. The key reference points for the investigation of the new global landscape is New York, the classic model of a dense hyper-connected global city and Moscow, a great historical city undergoing dynamic transformation and reconnection to the global world. Apart from these two cities, students will be asked to include additional examples of global cities in their design research and to benefit from the GSAPP Studio-X laboratories in various world sites, such as Rio de Janeiro, Amman, Mumbai, Beijing, Johannesburg and Istanbul.
This unique program provides a new set of skills that the global architects of the future will share. At the same time it fosters the individual strength of each student through the development of an original thesis. Each student thesis toward a new global urban environment will be manifested through individual research initiatives and design projects. Students will address and transform larger contexts by making them more legible through analysis and expressive forms. By simultaneously working on various urban scales, the students will program infrastructure, design urban systems, neighborhoods and buildings while also addressing regional and rural questions. Students will re-examine the conventional land-use strategies, city programming, and building concepts since many of the existing systems are no longer capable of addressing the radically different morphologies and typologies that are shaping the contemporary urban context.
More specifically, students will deal with a key set of 7 basic global issues: identity (migration/immigration), supply (food/water), security (crime/ urban safety), infrastructure (transport systems/networks/digital cities), health care (fit city), ecology (energy/climate) and density (formal/informal). Students will strengthen their design and theoretical research through a rigorous educational process and will test through their independent thesis work how one of these 7 global issues develops on the example of different world sites. Ideally, the student’s independent field of interest must be defined by the end of the first semester and it culminates in an original design research report at the end of the third semester with New York and Moscow acting as the shared reference points for all students.
Summer Term (New York)
Fall Term ( Regional City - Moscow- New York)
Spring Term ( New York - Global City)
1. The Studio Research Sequence
The Summer studio focuses on a New York Site and is shared with the other incoming Advanced Architectural Design students. In the Fall semester students pick a studio topic and associated program and their studio critic defines the site where they will develop the project. After making a trip to a regional city in Europe or Central Asia, they end up in Moscow, where they eventually pursue a 20-day intense workshop with lectures by different experts on various topics. In the Spring semester students continue their initial research in a more systematic way and begin a design studio with a new critic. They are asked to define their design goal and choose a site, preferably one of the Studio-X cities, where they can eventually test it. At the end of that term they are expected to present their design project and submit their design based research.
2. The History/Theory Sequence
The history/theory sequence is organized around a set of classes on the evolution of global cities. The summer course provides the framework for understanding the architecture and urbanism of New York City from a global perspective. The fall seminar explores the architecture and urbanism of Moscow from a global perspective. The spring seminar explores a wide range of global cities (including Amman, Beijing, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Johannesburg in Columbia University’s Studio-X network) and other key cities such as Tokyo, London, Hong-Kong and Mexico City. A range of invited Columbia professors deliver lectures on each of these cities.
3. Global Tools
In all three semesters, students in the program will receive state-of-the-art training in the latest techniques that are a vital part of the skill set of the professional of the future. These tools range from digital design and fabrication, through real estate development, data visualization, and interface design. In the summer semester students will join with the other advanced students arriving at GSAPP to take advantage of the wide range of intense workshops on the core training in the latest thinking and techniques in visualization, computation and technology. In the Fall semester, a special series of workshop classes will be provided. In the spring it is expected that students will take advantage of electives in the most advanced workshops of their choice.
5. Supplementary Activities
Additional guest lectures, workshops and seminar discussions, city walks exploring the urban fabric, visits to governmental and business offices, real time video links to key places and people, exhibitions, publications etc., offer further investigation on globalization issues, theoretical and critical debates, and on significant contemporary architectural and urban projects.