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Welcome to the Spring 2022 Semester

January 18, 2022

Dear GSAPP Community,

Welcome back, to the Spring 2022 semester – I hope that you’ve had a restful and refreshing winter break! We enter a new year with cautious optimism, expecting a safe return to in-person learning after two weeks of remote instruction. The abundance of caution that we all need to exercise is outlined in the GSAPP COVID-19 Resources and COVID-19 Resource Guide, especially as regards to the community compact and booster mandate. During the first two weeks, “virtual studios” for all programs are accessible to students and faculty on a 24/7 basis. I look forward to seeing you on campus at the beginning of February.

A sense of optimism was apparent in a busy Fall semester when GSAPP studios, classrooms, and gathering places filled with energy and encounters. Adding to the physical proximity was the intellectual connectedness we continued to build. GSAPP Common Circle, inaugurated last September as a series of orientation workshops, brought together more than 500 entering students to engage in small-group conversations about racism and racial equity with students and faculty from across different programs. The feedback was tremendous, including ideas of improvement for the next iteration. Another important School-wide initiative was the activation of the GSAPP Student Council, with representatives from all programs who collaborate to advocate for student interests and organize student activities. Forthcoming in February will be the first all-GSAPP Virtual Employer Networking Event. An online platform will offer the opportunity for employers to host information sessions with groups of students, meet with them one-on-one, and review resumes, work samples and portfolios. Elevating our collective efforts like these to expand student ideas and potential is a top priority of my role as Interim Dean.

GSAPP has always been about how the past and present inform the future, to anticipate, create, and engage with diverse forms of knowledge, practice, and civic life. The ongoing pandemic – together with the climate crisis and quest for social justice – has ushered in a new sense of urgency for students and professionals of the built environment to (re)imagine the ways in which people and communities live, work, move, and interact, responsibly and sustainably. The “new normal” is not and should not be the old normal. To extend the School’s ongoing exploration of these issues, our Spring Lecture and Event series includes lectures by Olelakan Jeyifous, Zhu Pei, and Dorte Mandrup; the Byard Lecture by Sara Bronin; the Mertins Memorial Lecture by Jay Cephas; as well as the Spring Open House lecture by our own Galia Solomonoff. This year’s Fitch Colloquium will be hosted by the Historic Preservation Program in collaboration with MoMA, while the Buell Center presents Writing Architectural History: Evidence and Narrative in the Twenty-First Century. These are just some of the highlights – please be sure to join the dialogue and visit the online calendar for the complete schedule and details.

We recognize that some of you continue to experience financial, emotional, and other hardship during this difficult period. Please note that our support through the GSAPP Emergency Fund will again be available to students in need this semester. You can learn more online and reach out directly to the Financial Aid Office at financialaid@arch.columbia.edu to discuss your circumstances or make a request for funding. The University also has a range of resources to draw from to support student wellness. If you would like to talk with me directly, you can email (deansoffice@arch.columbia.edu) or stop by Avery 402 during my open office hour on Mondays at 12-1pm.

At this unique moment in GSAPP’s history, I deeply appreciate the trust all of you are giving me in this opportunity to serve the School and its large community. It is an honor to follow the transformative leadership of Dean Andraos, and I look forward to forging collaborations in the semester ahead to further elevate GSAPP’s engagement with the critical issues across all scales of the built environment.


Weiping Wu
Interim Dean