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Columbia GSAPP Exhibitions presents Model Projections

Avery 4611 000 web
An exhibition co-curated by the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery and Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library explores the practice of architectural model making, opening September 27, 2018 at Columbia University
Press Release
31 August 2018

The Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) presents Model Projections, a collaborative research and design project organized by GSAPP Exhibitions. Model Projections is co-curated by the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery and Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, with exhibition design by Agency—Agency and production support from the GSAPP Making Studio. Model Projections investigates the complex pathways between architecture and its representations through an examination of the practice of model making.

The exhibition is on view at the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery in Buell Hall, Columbia University, from September 27 through December 15, 2018. The opening reception takes place from 6 to 8pm on Thursday, September 27. Gallery talks are scheduled throughout the duration of the exhibition.

While models have long occupied a central role in the design and building processes, during the postwar period the production and function of models expanded as architecture firms increasingly commissioned elaborate three-dimensional representations that were extraordinarily precise in detail—from simulated materials to landscaping, from designer furniture to electrification. Precursors to today’s hyperrealist renderings and virtual environments, scale models helped architects advance design development, persuade clients, and launch buildings into the public imaginary through exhibitions and mass media long before their realization. At the same time, these objects became the nexus of abstract exchanges of information and divergent agendas amongst architects, clients, model makers, and photographers. The exhibition explores these ephemeral registers of architectural production, revealing the model itself as a site of collaboration, negotiation, and speculation—not unlike the full-scale building that it anticipated.

Drawing primarily upon the special collections of the Department of Drawings and Archives at Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, the exhibition focuses on an ecosystem of architectural model making during the mid-twentieth century. It features original photographs, correspondence, and ephemera from the archives of architects Harvey Wiley Corbett and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; photographer Louis Checkman; and especially the pioneering model maker Theodore Conrad, whose material experiments and specialized production techniques offer a framework for questioning the relationships between technology and craft, authenticity and authorship, architectural vision and systematized labor. The exhibition also includes models and archival material from outside institutions, including The Museum of Modern Art, as well as original model accessories, fragments, and scale objects from Conrad’s workshop.

Model Projections advances the line of inquiry established in the Ross Gallery’s 2017 exhibition Stagecraft: Models and Photos, which centered on questions of representation and making, and featured models produced by GSAPP students and commissioned model photography by James Ewing.

Continuing its efforts to support new projects by emerging architects and artists, the Ross Gallery invited Agency—Agency to design the exhibition. Under the direction of founder Tei Carpenter, Agency—Agency developed an immersive installation and display system that uses off-the-shelf materials—drywall fragments, exposed metal studs—to evoke an architectural work-in-progress. Embracing the artifice and provisional nature of models, the exhibition design oscillates between multiple scales, intertwining the materials and methods of model making and architectural construction.

The GSAPP Making Studio provided material, technical, and design support for Model Projections, engaging students in all stages of its fabrication. Demonstrating the school’s dedication to a culture of making, the GSAPP Making Studio stands at the forefront of changes in design technologies and contemporary culture through a commitment to physical experimentation and production—whether a drawing, a book, a model, or a set of tools.


Curatorial Team: Jennifer Gray, Curator of Drawings and Archives, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library; Irene Sunwoo, GSAPP Director of Exhibitions and Curator, Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery; Tiffany Lambert, GSAPP Assistant Director of Exhibitions

Exhibition Design Team: Agency—Agency (Tei Carpenter with Minjae Kim)

Graphic design: Estudio Herrera

Production Team: Joshua Jordan, Director of GSAPP Making Studio; with GSAPP students William Anderson, Daqian Cao, Sadie Dempsey, Fabrizio Furiassi, Christine Giorgio, Lucy Navarro, and Nika Teper

Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library
Founded in 1890, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library is home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of books and periodicals in architecture, historic preservation, art history, fine arts, urban planning, and archaeology, as well as the repository for approximately 1,500,000 original drawings and archival records. Its holdings range from the first Western printed book on architecture, De re aedificatoria (1485), by Leon Battista Alberti, to seminal works by modernists such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. Avery works with historians, architects, and museums to advance new scholarship in art and architectural history and theory. 
Agency—Agency is an award-winning New York City-based architecture and design studio directed by Tei Carpenter. The practice seeks out an expanded role for architecture by engaging buildings, objects, interiors, infrastructures, speculations, and environments. The studio’s recently completed work includes a new non-profit headquarters in downtown Houston and a winning entry for LA+ Journal’s island competition. Agency—Agency’s work has been exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture and the 2016 Venice Biennale. In 2018, Agency—Agency was named one of the New Practices New York by the American Institute of Architects.
GSAPP Making Studio

The newly remodeled Making Studio at GSAPP combines a range of workshops and project spaces for fabrication, 3D printing, robotics and multi-modal making, rapid prototyping, digital cutting and tooling, alongside a space for large-scale mockups and experimentation. Cross-program workshops and 24-hour access enable students to explore, stage, tinker, reuse, and adapt. The Fabrication Lab provides material, technical, and design support for all modeling, building, and making endeavors of GSAPP students. Its mission is to provide a continuum of support for physical experimentation and production, from heavy duty sheet goods to precision work on fine models.

Among the world’s leading research universities, Columbia University in the City of New York continuously seeks to advance the frontiers of scholarship and foster a campus community deeply engaged in the complex issues of our time. Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) offers a range of programs inarchitecture, historic preservation, planning, real estate development, and urban design that bring together imagination, experimentation, and critical thinking towards new forms of practice. GSAPP is committed to shaping a more equitable, sustainable, and creative world by engaging architecture and the built environment from diverse and global perspectives. The school functions as an urban condenser of ideas and drives innovation and change through the leadership of its faculty, the excellence of its academic programs, the expansion of interdisciplinary opportunities as well as the richness of its research initiatives and events.