The Shape of Two Cities: New York/Paris Program is designed to develop a student’s critical appreciation of urban forms, from genesis through development, and the role of architecture, preservation, and planning in the spatial, social, and cultural creation of the contemporary urban environment. As a one-year intensive liberal arts program with a strong studio component, the curriculum focuses on both design issues and the urban history and theory of these two cities. In addition, the program provides a thorough introduction to the disciplines of architecture, urban studies, and planning for highly-motivated undergraduates who have completed at least two years of study at their home institutions, or for post-baccalaureate students interested in preparing for graduate studies. Previous study in these disciplines is not required for admission to the program, allowing students from a broad range of academic and professional backgrounds to participate. The program’s curriculum is designed to provide students with a better understanding of the design and urban studies disciplines as they are practiced in both New York and Paris, offering a unique context that engages students as well as critics and instructors from architecture, urban studies, and other fields with a critical dialogue across cultures using two of the world’s great cities.
New York and Paris are significant global cities, each a case study and legacy of urban development, and each a historical cultural, financial, and political capital. For students, these two cities offer an ideal opportunity to explore the historical, social, and political development of urban form; and to clarify the roles of architects, planners, and preservationists upon it. During the first semester, students are enrolled at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York and enjoy the resources of the GSAPP and Columbia University. The following semester students are based at Reid Hall, Columbia University’s center for French cultural studies, located near the Luxembourg Gardens in the Montparnasse district of Paris. Reid Hall offers reading rooms, lounges, a 4,000-volume library, administrative offices, and an extensive network of activities to help students bridge the gap between American and French cultures.