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CCCP Completed Thesis Projects

Class of 2014

Devina Kirloskar


Behind the gates: New forms of private enclavism in India
Advisor: Anupama Rao

“Paradise on earth”, “Buy a flat-get a city free”, “Live a luxurious life”- scream the billboards advertising for the townships and gated enclaves that proliferate along the highways across cities in India. They promise a new and improved lifestyle that is defined by luxury and convenience targeting specifically the new consumers of these spaces-The Indian Middle class. The paradox of the dense urbanity of the traditional Indian city against the backdrop of the utopian landscape of these private enclaves alludes to a change in the perceptions of this community and their aspirations.

The architecture, however, of these spaces is unique, and in many ways it connects to global trends of gated communities as well as India’s own historical lineage of gated-ness and exclusion in cities. The peculiarities of these enclaves are revealed through the built architecture- the high rise vertical model, large suburban utopias, the gated-ness and its celebration, the enforcement of the gates , the urbanized landscapes, construction of nature, swimming pools, gyms and manicured lawns, organized labor, the relationship to the informal and the exceptions and inequalities in land laws and zoning regulations.

I examine these objects through advertisements, news items, interviews, images, letters, maps, legal documents and the histories of land laws and housing policies to seek intertwining narratives of infrastructures, imaginaries and spatial politics that give shape to this development.

The ambition of the thesis is to put together a montage of realities and experiences in these urban spaces that are read in conjunction with the top down infrastructural policies to reveal a larger story of social exclusion and urban asymmetry. The focus is mainly on Integrated Townships in the periphery of Pune. The project will be a graphical journey through these narratives as a document with a collection of the images, advertisements, the lived experiences and my own critique.


Gregory Barton


Exceptional Territory: The Case of Diego Garcia
Advisor: Laura Kurgan

The focus is on territory as a conceptual construction and its relationship to the nation-state, particularly its structural role as an advantageous ensemble in theatres of war. Territory is something made both through acts of demarcation(/delineation) and designation(/declaration). That is to say, the myriad contours of territory are defined not only by geospatial limits and technological capabilities but are also a function of such linguistic variables as speech acts and legislative items. Through mapping and language, territory is here investigated as multi-scalar, relational and enabling; the extraordinary instance of Diego Garcia – a joint US-UK island military installation in the Indian Ocean – provides a case study to explore and problematize the questions and possibilities of territorial capacity, integrity and sovereignty. Cartographic research navigates the geopolitical vectors and institutions Diego Garcia inhabits and exploits in order to extrapolate more broadly the mechanics and instruments by which a state creates and utilizes territory as para-national operational space, often breaking or disregarding its own laws and international obligations in the process.


Tanya Gershon


Taking it to the Street: The Art of Public Life
Advisor: Mabel Wilson

I heard the rhythm. As I navigated through hundreds of people rushing between the trading stalls and the spazza shops on the narrow streets of Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) only one sound rose above the hum of the traffic and the street traders. “Ayah ayah.” Three women dancing and singing at the busiest intersection on Bree Street. They seemed to stop people for a moment, captivating passerby’s with their energy and spirit. I stood and watched the entire performance not able to move as their music filled the surrounding blocks and their song and dance had their own sense of power over the space that they occupied. These women were artists, seasoned performers, full of passion for their craft. As everyone dispersed, I asked a man what the foreign lyrics meant. He paused and replied, “they are singing about laundry detergent.”

While millions of rand a year is channeled into capital art projects with the aim of transforming Johannesburg’s highly contested inner-city, the artists and agencies falter in their objective by not weaving their projects into the existing communities and vibrant beat of street in the CBD. While large squares and parks remain vacant, the street maintains a vibrancy and energy that pulsates throughout the day reinforcing the sidewalks and street corners as the real public space in a city wrought with a tumultuous history of spatial politics. How can we harness the talents of street performers to create community in areas that they already reside? How can we use their knowledge of the city to create more meaningful site specific interventions rather than perpetuate fragmented “public” infrastructure? What platforms can we use to highlight the vibrancy of public performing art that can instigate change in the long-standing perceptions of the CBD to native Johannesburgers and the international community?


Vahan Misakyan

The New Image of Human. Architecture as a virtual and psychological habitat.
Advisor: Mark Wigley

This thesis uses the notion of human to explore and elucidate the underlying infrastructural condition of the presumably impending global state— surveillance and dataveillance—and observes this condition as a spatial context in which to understand the status of the human.

Thesis defines the accumulative ubiquity of surveilable mediums and their interconnected agglomeration, as the infrastructural condition of surveillance and dataveillance. It views this condition as a continuous context surrounding humans, which encloses and mediates all spatial relations between humans. Using concepts of medium, observation, interface, control and convergence, it elucidates on synergic spaces fusing humans and the surveillance infrastructure, as well as the interdependent progression of humans and the infrastructural condition of surveillance and dataveillance. This reading externalizes a hierarchical order of the created context in which the disposition, reconfiguration and segregation of humans takes place.

The evolution of governmental and corporate surveillance and dataveillance as regards the U.S., will be used as a case study.


Maximilian Lauter

Capital Artifacts: Critical Structures of Auralization
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

Auralization connotes the imagining of an aural event, distinct from sonification as a process of mapping datum to audible signifiers, or the modulation of sound on a multidimensional axis of compositional techniques for representation. As a set of practical and conceptual tools, these systems are built upon advancements in psychoacoustics and our sonic imaginary evolves with these applications. The integration of artistic processes in computer music and data visualization offer specific communicative capacities, and their intersection implicates new notions of transmission, translation, and fidelity. Operating on the thresholds of perception and calculation, the  efficacy of these strategies are tested within various spatial design practices, and are augmented by artistic practices contextualized within a discourse of ‘glitch’ aesthetic and methodology. Glitch refers to an unpredictable error, but it has become increasingly unclear if that error resides externally or occurs internally. A perceptual hiccup that occurs due to methods of compression could as easily be a computer error as a demarcation of our individual threshold for measuring difference. White noise is seemingly the most unique sound in its complete variety, but to our ears its nuance is imperceivable. A critical narrative aims to make noise legible and productive in new ways, expanding aesthetic discourse within sonification to inform both design and curatorial practice.

Hyper-minimalist work by composer Ryoji Ikeda is taken as a case study of techniques that push popular notions of glitch and information aesthetics to their perceptual extremes within a trajectory of noise and data-based practices. Noise here is the malleable material of theories of information and performative art practices, as an indicator not simply of entropy but of embedded, masked meaning. This project cultivates a critical language and taxonomy for expanding notions of auditory display to examine the productivity of these noise-based methodologies—glitch being the referent and object for the perception of difference. How are we to understand the cross-disciplinary influence of auralization on the social aspects of perceptual capital and cultural capital? What are the functional implications of an immersive aural architecture embedded and encoded within the institutionalized museum and the urban stage of the city? on representation and interactive design? Striving for a lossless society is impossible due to an architecture modulated ontologically by filtering and error. As both steganographic and unintended interferences are unavoidable characteristics of globalized information flow, cultural politics, and spatial perception, the lossiness has become a source of production. Application of these notions to scientific and artistic practice is paramount if we are to decode the future city.


Javairia Shahid

Remapping Istanbul cosmopolitanism now:
Control, agency and identity in transnational global transitions
Advisor: Kazys Varnelis

Shahid: Could you point out on this map where Taksim is
Tafokoon: Right about here (point to a spot on the map)
Shahid: Oh, I missed it. Wait, it says something else, in Arabic.
It does not say Taksim on the map.
Tafokoon: Yeah, it does not.
Shahid: Where is this map of Istanbul from?
Tafokoon: I found it in a book, a collection of maps of Istanbul at the University of Virginia.
Shahid: Do you know how old the map is?
Tafokoon: I do not remember exactly, but 1907 I think
Shahid: That’s decades before the Gezi uprising
Tafokoon: Yes
Every time we refer to the Occupy Gezi Movement in Istanbul, it seems some discursive precautions need to be taken, due to the sensitivity of the topic. The project aims to elucidate the side of the city produced through Occupy Gezi by positioning the politics of memory, history and urban imaginaries of Istanbul in its globalizing context and the global rise of the memorialization industry. Within this context, the project traces the conception of the ‘other’ neo-‘Orientalist’ framing of the subject and its ‘representation’, and presents a counter-method of history practices.


Javier Anton


Remains of National Identities: Twin Houses by Javier Carvajal in Somosaguas, 1967
Advisor: Kenneth Frampton

“Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014” is the theme that Rem Koolhaas has proposed for the national pavilions participating in the upcoming 2014 Venice biennale. This biennale advances the provocation that under globalization national characteristics are being eroded in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a single repertoire of typologies. Taking their own national perspective, each pavilion must contribute to the creation of a global overview of architecture’s evolution over the course of a century into a single, modern aesthetic, while uncovering unique national features and mentalities that continue to exist. In words of Rem Koolhaas:

In 1914, it made sense to talk about a “Chinese” architecture, a “Swiss” architecture, an “Indian” architecture… One hundred years later, under the influence of wars, diverse political regimes, different states of development, national and international architectural movements, individual talents, friendships, random personal trajectories, and technological developments, architectures that were once specific and local have become seemingly interchangeable and global. Has national identity been sacrificed to modernity?

This exhibition deals with the absorption of modernity in Spain. Contextualizing the historical, social, political and economical situation of the country, it makes use of the film technique as a tool to display how that absorption has been blended with remains of national identities through a particular case study: the twin houses that Javier Carvajal built in Somosaguas in 1967. As Koolhaas recognizes, the transition to what seems like a universal architectural language is a more complex process than we typically acknowledge, involving significant encounters between cultures, technical inventions and ways of remaining “national”.

Katia Davidson


Virtual Spaces: A Digital Archive of Unbuilt Works
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

Contemporary architectural projects are almost entirely conceived in the virtual realm of 3d modeling. Long the standard medium, it facilitates the implementation by offices of digital renderings—the animated variety of which allows for the building to be not only understood, but also experienced by an audience untrained in reading traditional architectural documentation. With current technologies, an entire environment can now be imagined, realized, and recorded by virtual means with increasing ease and expertise. This, along with growing expectations by both clients and the public, has resulted in a rising amount of animated visualizations executed by both designers and developers throughout the building practice.

This thesis aims to dissect both the strategy of documenting projects through digitally constructed narratives and the space of production surrounding it through an online, interactive platform. By establishing a lexicon of both visual and descriptive terms through an intimate examination of their construction, this thesis will create an alternative index to both read and analyze this growing form of representation and its impact on the architectural practice. Through a rigorous exercise in cataloguing, the goal is to unveil the peculiarities and complexities behind this growing medium as well as chronicle the media in which it is both disseminated and preserved.


Ashraf Abdalla


Sayyida Zaynab Cultural Park for Children: The Architecture of Abdelhalim I. Abdelhalim and the Making of the Egyptian Neoliberal State
Advisor: Reinhold Martin

The Cultural Park for Children in Cairo, a project sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and designed by Egyptian architect Abdelhalim I. Abdelhalim, won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992. Located in the historic district of Sayyida Zaynab, a “poor and underdeveloped” area in Cairo, the park was hailed by the jury as a “three-dimensional history lesson,” and the architect was praised for his innovative approach to community development. Subsequently, the project became a showpiece for “modern Islamic” architecture and “community-based” design processes for many Egyptian and international architects and critics.

The history of the park, from its inception, has been written in the struggle between the local community and the state. Abdelhalim intended for the cultural park to be a catalyst for urban transformation and social change within the “underdeveloped” and “alienated” surrounding community. Against forces of exclusion by the authoritarian and bureaucratic state, seen as an accomplice to western modernization and global forces, Abdelhalim aimed to include and empower the local community by connecting them to their “Islamic” past, built environment, and park. By evoking “Islamic” imageries from the surrounding historical sources, and activating local participation through community rituals and festivals, the architecture of the park produced forms, which stood for distinct cultural identity, and visual patterns, which guided the organization of the park. The ensuing failure of the project’s intentions has been attributed to the power of the centralized state at preventing the community from engaging with the cultural park, both in its production and appropriation.

I argue that Abdelhalim’s attempts to engage the local community did not pose a challenge to the state, but were part of the changing nature of the state itself. Experimenting with issues of decentralization, which sanctioned the state’s withdrawal from its hitherto role in providing social services and downward wealth redistribution, the state considered delegating control to local communities. Empowering communities was part of the emerging logic of the neoliberal state. In addition, the claim for community’s inclusion, inadvertently, legitimized the exploitiv e dynamic of the state’s system of control and capital accumulation, by attributing the “underdeveloped” status to being excluded from such system.

Architecturally, Abdelhalim’s attempts hinged on a dialectic of Naturalization and Denaturalization that led concurrently to the commodification and dematerialization of the local residents’ conditions. The Naturalization of the community as a coherent living organism, connected to the past and capable of emitting historical meaning upon activation in rituals and festivals, is simultaneously Denaturalized through extracting abstract and dematerialized visual patterns. Devoid of antagonistic social relations, and deprived of its material conditions, the community in Abdelhalim’s approach became susceptible to capital accumulation and the state’s expansive control. In the park’s architecture, the dialectic of images, standing for distinct and local cultural identity, and patterns, standing for abstract universal order, worked to screen the advancement of capital dynamics and state’s hegemony within the community. As such, Abdelhalim’s assertion for the community’s rootedness in its local and “Islamic” past did not impede such state’s hegemony, but enabled it. The state’s domination over the community was sustained by the appeal to the phantasmagoric architecture of distinct cultural identity — which acted as a dream world of a collective, classless, and lost past, that in turn worked to obscure the violence dynamic of the emerging neoliberal state. Furthermore, through community participation, the architecture of Abdelhalim worked in tandem with the state, and its Ministry of Culture, to incorporate the “minds” and “souls” of the community into the state’s domain of influence. Through both its forms and organizational capacities, the architecture of Abdelhalim at the Cultural Park for Children did, indeed, act as a catalyst for social change. But, it was a change aligned with the logic of the neoliberal state, and not against it.


Sabrina Wirth


San Salvador, El Salvador: a portrait of spatial and social fragmentation
Advisor: Clara Irazábal

San Salvador, El Salvador, like many Latin American cities, is characterized by its fragmented urban planning and challenges with safety. The city is divided between public spaces only used by one social class, and enclosed private spaces occupied mainly by another. It has been 22 years since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, and the beginning of a second consecutive presidential term that represents the FMLN party, the rebel group with whom the government signed the treaty. How has the El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, changed since the end of the war? The structure of the city, or the lack thereof, represents a city full of insecurity and disorganization. Since cities are designed to reflect the way we live, how does the disorder of the city reflect the social conditions of its population, and how does it affect the way people view their city? This project aims to present the spatial and social fragmentation of San Salvador through the narratives of its inhabitants in the form of a documentary. The main themes it will focus on are: mobility/transportation, public space, and communication. While this documentary presents one part of a complex issue of San Salvador, the goal is to stimulate a dialogue that could potentially lead to social action in the future.


Elis Mendoza


Codifying Violence: Sites of the Mexican War on Drugs
Advisor: Reinhold Martin

In 2006, only eleven days after taking office, Mexican president Felipe Calderon announced the Operación Conjunta Michoacán, a strategy that would derive in the so-called “War on Drugs”, transforming the cities and towns along the north of Mexico into perpetually contested places.

It is the argument of this work that the evident failure of the war on drugs has provoked a change in strategy; from a battle against drug trafficking to a battle for the way this moment is going to be portrayed and understood in the future independently of its outcome. It is an ongoing war for territory, not just in its physical form but also in the media, the society, the academic world, the international community, and the future. All the actors in this transformed war are displaying actions that involve more pressing matters than just the commercialization or distribution of illegal drugs.

The territory, the images, and the bodies, are symbols that narrate a complex structure of violence. The “war against the Narco” has become the “war against violence,” though it is not clear who is the perpetrator, who are the responsible parties, and who are the victims.

The aim of this thesis is to uncover and question the changes in the discourse and portrayal of this conflict. In order to accomplish this task I will analyze the effectiveness of a number of “actions” common to this war through what I have identified as the representative “sites of violence” knitting in this way a complex spatial matrix over the Mexican territory.


Caitlin Blanchfield


Testing Territory: A history of spatial strategies along the Rio Grande
Advisor: Reinhold Martin

Architecture can cast predictable characters. Territory can be a familiar stage. Narrative can fall into line. The border between the United States and Mexico is a space whose script is as entrenched as the walls that limn it, the tunnels that circumvent it, and the codes that interdict or enable passage across it. So, what can a space that doesn’t fit this bill tell us about the nature of borders and their relevance today? How does the making of a transbounded territory reinforce, circumvent, and throw into relief politics of space and nation-state, ideologies of land management, and the scales—from supranational to local—at which territory is produced? What spatial possibilities are opened up if we recast the protagonists and antagonists of conflict and contestation?

Transbounding territory and history, this thesis will destablize notions of borders, access and transnationality through a close-grained examination of three contiguous national parks: Big Bend National Park in Texas, Cañón Santa Elena in Chihuahua and Maderas del Carmen in Coahuila. By assembling a constellation of historical moments (1935-1945, 1971-1981, 1992-2002) archival documents, and contemporary voices the thesis will trace the emergence and implementation of a scientific method in the management land, from the nation-building projects of post-progressive pre-war years, to NAFTA-underwritten research ventures. Resource extraction, infrastructure development, and population distribution on national and supranational levels are written into the landscape here, and always subject to the micro-movements of local communities—from coveys of yellow-billed cuckoos to trespass cattle, from fluoride miners to geology students.

This is a history of shared economies and created capital, revealed in frontier myths or rhetorics of environmental sovereignty. It is a counter-narrative that draws the border not as a static line of collision, but rather an active force with physical properties mobilized or dispensed with to construct national identities, logics of conservation, and capital extraction. With agendas at times congruent and at times conflicting, presidents and park planners, UNESCO policy makers and research scientists, park rangers and local residents, experimented on the land, testing territory-making according to a narrative of scientific inquiry.

Class of 2013

Advisor: Mark Wigley

MARCELO F. LÓPEZ-DINARDI
Destructive Knowledge: Tools for Learning to Un-Dō

Advisor: Mabel Wilson

BONNY YAU
Constructing a Harmonious Society: Cultural Policy in Contemporary Chinese Architecture

Advisor: Felicity Scott

JIHOI LEE
Mapping Urgency: Escape Routes of North Korean Refugees

Advisor: Jeannie Kim and Kazys Varnelis

ALLISON CARAFA
Locating the Blog

Advisor: Felicity Scott

MARINA OTERO
Evanescent Institutions: Towards  the Construction of a Global Democratic Imaginary

Advisor: Mary McLeod

SARAH RAFSON
Exhibitions, Community and Activism: History of Feminism in Architecture through Display

Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

HELENE NGUYEN
Fabricating Architecture

Advisor: Craig Buckley

JESS NGAN
Speculative Fictions: The construction of artificial islands

Advisor: Felicity Scott

FRANCISCO J. DÍAZ
Contemporary Section: Modes of architectural production in the first decade of the 21st century

Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

NINA KOLOWRATNIK
An Outside Language of Conflict

Class of 2012

Meredith Baber

“Icelandic Research Fellowship”
[suitcase-fellowship]

The architectural profession in Iceland represents an extremely rich and diverse, yet small community that derives its’ character from a dispersed presence in the larger global sphere. A post-national architectural identity results from the education of an architect, which has only occurred internal to Iceland in the last decade. Students are still required to obtain professional degrees outside of Iceland, a requirement that implicitly promotes a global understanding of the architectural field.

This unique condition of dispersal provides for an interesting problematic, one that impacts the greater Icelandic public in a particular way, namely that, given the young presence of architecture within Icelandic academia, there are no research funds available to scholars or practitioners. The impact of this lack of research funds extends beyond the domain of strictly scholarly pursuits, for, as this thesis hopes to demonstrate and in turn address, it creates a void in discursive dialogue within the architectural community.

In response, this project proposes establishing a program to foster the scholarly and intellectual development of young architects with terminal degrees, to promote research at a local and global scale, and to simultaneously establish networks between existing practitioners in the Reykjavik context and students in the global context. In doing so, it will further provide access and insight into the architectural community of Iceland, acting as a bridge between the education and practice of architects.


Jordan Carver

“Known Unknowns: Sovereignty Commoditization and the “War on Terror””
Advisor: Mabel O. Wilson

In a career marked my many feats of great verbal acrobatics, it was on February 12, 2002 that marked what could easily be called Donald Rumsfeld’s magnum opus. At a Department of Defense press conference answering questions pertaining to the buildup of the war with Iraq, and the then possible existence of weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld uttered his now famous maxim: “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

It is within the territory of the known unknown that this project sets out to explore. The focuses of inquiry are “black sites,” an international, and highly classified, prison network established by the U.S. government shortly after the September 11th attacks. Even the name suggests the known unknown. The means of investigation depends on interrogating redacted documents, newspaper clippings, NGO reports, public satellite imagery, court documents—all incomplete in and of themselves, yet when pieced together allow for the black sites network to emerge. This emergence cannot just be located within the context of the so-called “war on terror” for it relies on a much more sophisticated reasoning and nuanced linguistic reading of national and international laws involving the conduct of war and international relations.

At the center of this discussion is the sovereign, and how the manifestation and implementation of sovereignty has evolved from its earliest conceptions at the beginning of the modern nation state to something that has morphed into an assemblage of complex relationships, the least of which are the traditional notions of power and territory. These relationships are interrogated and examined through various media. Key to this investigation is a methodical unpacking of the various spatialities the war inhabits. Spaces of politics, economics and nation-state interrelations mix with spaces of confinement, interrogation and the intimate space of the body.

What is known about the black sites is scattered across the internet and published in books and reports by enterprising reporters and human rights organizations. This project attempts to deploy the method of critique as a process for organizing this vast quantity of information. The assemblage operates as both the critical action and its organizational representation, disassembling government documents to understand how these new forms of power operate, and then reassembling the evidence of what this power has wrought.


José Esparza

“Institutional Infrastructures: An Alternative Model for Architectural Education in Mexico City”
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott

This thesis is developed under the assumption that the institutional working models of architectural education do not reflect the social demands of our time. It presupposes that due to their institutional condition, complex sociopolitical events that shape our contemporary global context are seldom taken into account. This thesis contests the stringent infrastructures of learning institutions and attempts to present an alternative and responsive working model where contextual issues are addressed and introduced into the larger discourse network of practice through the development of a flexible operating framework.

For a grounded perspective, this thesis will be developed in the Mexico City, a place with an active community of professionals but with a limited access to platforms that foment alternative practices. Through a two-stage process, this thesis will first survey and analyze a selection of present-day learning institutions as well other non-institutional networks and organizations in Mexico and abroad, to consequentially draft an informed proposal for an alternative working model for architectural education, titled: Central de Arquitectura de la Ciudad de México.

Central de Arquitectura’s ambition is to operate as an intra-institutional center for architectural activities—a bridge linking the insular nature of institutional work by offering a dynamic and flexible program. Moreover, it attempts to put forward a possible new format of architectural education that aims to diversify the practice of architecture.

Atreyee Ghosh

“Interpretations and Interventions: Tulshibaug Temple and Market Complex, Pune”
Advisor: Kenneth Frampton

Interpretations and Interventions: Tulshibaug Temple and Market Complex, Pune aims to make a physical and operational assessment of the architecture and historical urban fabric of the Tulshibaug temple and market complex in the city of Pune, India, in order to develop a critical discourse that in turn directs new development in these areas. The research looks at the site as an example of an “indigenous modernity”, and interpreting the local opinions and issues, aims to propose a format for physical and cybernetic interventions by the continuous collaboration of local students of architecture colleges and the user group.

The research acknowledges the possibility of new development co-existing and integrating within existing traditional urban fabric, and shall make critical recommendations as to the future of architectural development in the core of these cities. This research will investigate the contention that “glocal” urban intervention, coupled with transportation infrastructure, is the future of development of architecture in the core areas of Indian cities.


Arianne Kouri

“1959 Exhibition Exchange: The Exhibition Designs of the American and Soviet National Exhibitions”
Advisor: Craig Buckley

The thesis examines and critiques the American National Exhibition of 1959 with the Soviet Exhibition of the same year. Both the United States and the Soviet Union held major national exhibitions in an effort to lessen tension between the two countries through a cultural exchange— the Soviet Exhibition was held in New York City and opened in June 1959 while the American National Exhibition was held in Moscow and opened one month later in July 1959. Through the medium of exhibition design— curating and planning, spatial strategy, circulation, material selection and presentation—an analysis of the political and social implications of both exhibitions can be clearly realized suggesting the potential of the exhibition format as a powerful political stage.


Albert José-Antonio López

“Divergent Modernities: Planning in Havana 1940-1960”
Advisor:  Mary Caroline McLeod. External Consultant:  Brian Brace Taylor

This body of research explores the divergent conceptualizations of modernity in Cuban society during the period of 1940-1960, and their manifestations in Cuban architectural practice and urban planning.  The primary focus of investigation is the national efforts of urban planning, in particular, the organization of the Junta Nacional de Planificación (JNP) in 1955 under the auspices of the Batista government.  A critical investigation of this organization seeks to further understand its relations to the official economic and social visions for the island, and how they corresponded and conflicted with contemporary opinions on national development.  Insight into the organization, its related bodies, and its key members is provided by extensive investigation of primary resources related to the Cuban architectural and urbanist profession prior to the revolution.  The use of official magazines, transcripts from conferences, and personal interviews contextualizes the proposals for architectural and urban modernization by revealing the political and ideological beliefs of the key figures involved in the expansion and planning of the then-rapidly modernizing city.  The efforts behind national and urban planning during this period are portrayed as a complex product of conflicting Cuban cultural identities, the growth of Cuban nationalism in the era prior to the revolution, and the influence that North American values and investment had on the development of the Cuban capital’s architectural and urban image.  Though this research takes into account all external factors on the path toward national development that were in order prior to the Revolution, it will argue that the motives and decisions were ultimately internal.  


Carlos Mínguez Carrasco

“CURATORIAL REANIMATIONS: Atlas of New York Architecture Exhibitions (1977-1987)”
Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

The 1977 opening of Leo Castelli’s group exhibition Architecture I marked the moment at which a New York private art gallery presented works of architecture as art pieces for the first time. The next year, close to Leo Castelli’s gallery, Bernard Tschumi opened in a non-profit organization gallery called Artists Space an exhibition titled Architectural Manifestoes. Those two exhibitions show the genesis of a polarized production of architectural exhibitions in its multiple versions and formats during the late seventies and early eighties.

The final form anticipated for the research is an atlas of the exhibitions of architecture opened in New York from 1977 to 1987. The project has the aspiration of unveiling the crucial importance of the exhibition practice for the theory and the production of architecture during the last 25 years. Specifically the study will be focused on the controversy established in the inception of the discussion: on the one hand the understanding of the documents of architecture as an artistic matter from the art world and art market and on the other hand the architectural field absorbing art languages, formats and platforms as part of the discipline.

The result will be a print-based material research in which three principal issues will be addressed: the importance of the institutional role in the controversy; transdisciplinarity versus autonomy in the exhibition realm; and the physical and theoretical space of the gallery as architectural battlefield.

The research is an attempt at understanding the complex and multifaceted relationship between art and architecture and how this connection had a significant turning point in the 1980s in New York City.


Jacob Moore

“Other Architectures”
Advisor: Ijlal Muzaffar

Other Architectures will research and analyze the mechanisms of translation within the architectural discourse.  Based on those findings it will propose an apparatus to facilitate improved translation at multiple discursive scales. Beginning with an ethos of texts as always incomplete, the project asks how translation, as a productive reopening of information to shifting geopolitical, multicultural, and socioeconomic terrains, may contribute to a reinvigorated and multifarious exchange in architecture by sparking dialogue around specific, novel, and hitherto unknown contexts that are nevertheless worthy of discussion.

The process will include research of seminal translations within the discipline as well as investigations of more contemporary cases in order to locate problematic junctures that will themselves be relayed into the theoretical and programmatic underpinning for the final format: a peer-driven website which will be forever-in-flux and provide resources for architectural practitioners and theorists of all types – whether they be sourcing or offering translation services, suggesting texts worthy of translation, or discussing translations in progress.  Of primary importance is the establishment of a sustainable base from which Other Architectures may continue to operate long after the thesis has ‘come to an end.’


Victoria Bugge Øye

“Performing Architecture: A Theoretical Investigation on the Notion of ‘Performativity’”
Advisor: Felicity D. Scott

J.L. Austin first used the term ‘performative’ in the mid-1950s as a component of his speech act theory. Since then, the term has mutated at a rapidly increasing speed, especially throughout the 1990s. This has caused scholars such as Erika Fischer-Lichte to expanded on the idea of a ‘performative turn’ in society as a whole, understanding the terms ‘performative’ and ‘performance’ as neither exclusive to language studies nor performance art, but as a new interdisciplinary and societal paradigm.

  Various fields and actors have picked up the notion of ‘performativity’ as a subject for attempted deciphering, including architecture. The reiterations of the term in relation to architecture have, however, usually been complicit in reducing performativity to a phenomenological ‘effect’ on the subject/user. This is an approach that re-actualizes the status of the subject in relation to architecture, but that in insisting on a trans-historical relationship between the two falls short of any critical investigation of the processes that shape this very subjectivity (and its relationship to architecture) in the first place. A critical response to how performativity translates to architecture is thus still called for.

  One of the ambitions of this thesis is thus to identify the various specters of performativity, and how these can be understood in relation to the production and reception of architecture. Trying to rephrase the discourse on ‘performative architecture’ from an insular relation between architecture and user, I will attempt to formulate the parameters through which performativity can be applied as a productive terminology and apparatus for interpretation and analysis in relation to the field of architecture and architectural discourse.


Ismaelly Pena

“RE-presentation: Architecture in process…”
Advisor: Mabel O. Wilson

“We should have to study not only the history of space, but also the history of representations, along with that of their relationships—with each other, with practice, and with ideology” argued Henri Lefebvre in his seminal book The Production of Space, and it is under such premise, that this investigation takes its foundational stance. In a contemporary society in which we are bombarded with information and visual representations of events such as the war on terror, natural disasters, new state formations, and other such events, the architect has been called upon to be an active participant in the social and political reinvention and “projection” of the world; but how are such “projections” and more often representations, responding to the immediacies of everyday life and represented/re-presented to a public? .The thesis will use as a resource, the four institutions listed below and the mentioned competition/exhibitions/archive and the works that were associated with such, to investigate above mentioned idea of representation in contrast and in conjunction to its re-presentation.

-MOMA: Small Scale Big Change
- CCA: ACTION competition and exhibition
-Storefront for Art and Architecture: Call for entry- Strategies for Public Occupation
-Creative Time-Living as Form: Archive for Socially Engaged Practices

The investigation will culminate in the production of an “exhibition”; one that as Robin Evans argues, will aspire to not simply present an expose of the findings of an investigation in the form of “image”, but rather utilize them explore the re-presentational act of the exhibition within the architectural/public/ social space it would appropriate


Fernando Portal

“Design Policies: Public Policies and Design Disciplines in the US. The NEA Design Programs, 1967-2012”
Advisor: Enrique Walker

The research comprises a historic study on the conformation of public support structures for design disciplines in the US.

It focuses on the processes of formation, development and dismantling of the National Endowment for the Arts, over its 45 years of existence, through the analysis of a series of institutions, programs, organizations and projects related to its different developmental stages and politic administrations.

As conceptual practices of design disciplines inhabit an institutional framework strongly defined by cultural and economic policies, the thesis states that through the historic analysis of support structures for design and architecture, is possible to recognize and characterize different modes in which design and architecture relates with policies and politics.

Furthermore, since the processes of formation, consolidation and dismantling of the NEA design programs express the history of how a Neoliberal State defines and uses policies to support design projects as cultural industries, the research hypothesis states that the study of the American experience on the definition and development of public policies for design is a keystone for the enunciation and implementation of public policies for design in developing countries based on a Neoliberal State.

In order to explore this hypothesis, an historical approach is build towards the development of design programs developed by the public sector in conjunction with private and third sector agents in the US. After its analysis through a series of case studies, the research aims to enunciate a set of models for institutional development. Models intended to be considered in further developments of institutional frameworks, institutions, organizations and programs devoted to the support of design disciplines in Neoliberal States of developing countries.

Class of 2011

Advisor: Felicity Scott

NORA AKAWI
"darabZINE//an experiment in public curation"

Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

ADAM BANDLER
"Intolerance: or, the Inequity of Inaccessibility"

Advisor: Felicity Scott
YUN JIE CHUNG
"Relocating Curatorial Practices and a Nostalgia for Architectural Narratives in Do Ho Suh's Home Projects."

Advisor: Kazys Varnelis

SARAH CLOONAN
"Reshaping the Public Sphere and its Inverse Effect on Architectural Space."

Advisor: Felicity Scott

POLLYANNA RHEE
"Elucidating the Articulate Architect: The Objects of John Burchard's ‘Alienated Affections"

Advisor: Anthony Vidler

FEDERICA SOLETTA
"The (critical) Act of Curating Criticism: The Curator as Critic"

Advisor: Kenneth Frampton

TONG TONG
"Prospectus for a Publication on Architecture, Theater and Cinema"

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