Using videos created by Urban Design students at Columbia GSAPP, award-winning filmmaker Allan Holzman (Survivors of the Holocaust, Old Man River), has crafted a multi-screen montage of a myriad of neighborhoods from across New York City’s five boroughs.
The project was guided by GSAPP professors, including Nans Voron, Cassim Shepard, and Kate Orff, the Director of Columbia’s Urban Design Program, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and Principal of SCAPE.
The student videos which inspired the project – People and Places – explore the resilience of communities as they navigate the tensions of urban change, and how different proposals for neighborhoods and streets might foster healthy and sustainable living. The videos were created as part of a GSAPP class called “Reading New York Urbanisms,” taught by Shepard and Voron, which introduces Urban Design students to New York City as a laboratory of historical and present-day experiments in shaping the urban environment. By arming students with the observational and representational tools to “read” how the city’s multiple voices and actors influence its physical form and social experience, the class enables students to convey the dynamics of urban life. The installation celebrates the experience of the daily patterns, struggles, and pleasures of New Yorkers across the five boroughs of the City.
People and Places will be featured in Renzo Piano’s new Forum Building at Columbia University’s new West Harlem campus. The installation, consisting of four 65-inch screens mounted in the the building’s glass-walled lobby, will enable pedestrians and visitors to become immersed in the life and history of the City.
As a Peabody and two-time Emmy Award winning director-editor, Allan Holzman began multi-screen editing in 1999 with a fifteen-screen installation at Disney’s Epcot Center when AT&T explored concept of “shopping on the Internet.” He has since continued his love for multi–screen editing, adding to his repertoire installations for Xerox and Sirius Radio, and at Universal’s famed theme park rides, Twister and Titanic. Allan explains his fascination with the dynamic form of multi-screen editing: “Relationships and information evolve at hyper speeds.“ In a multi-screen environment, “…moments become montages… transitions become movement. When I saw the heartfelt, insightful work generated by the GSAPP UD students, I wanted to work with the media they created about a city that I love.”
Through the students’ eyes and a meticulous editorial process, Holzman grasped the multiple facets that make up the experience of community life in the five boroughs, with an emphasis on movement, color, people, architecture and infrastructure, celebrating the cinematic expressions of life in New York City.