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Spring 2022 GSAPP Faculty Awards

Faculty grid bw new
Top row, left to right: Erica Avrami, Chat Travieso, Ifeoma Ebo. Bottom row, left to right: Jerome Haferd, Lexi Tsien, Jelisa Blumberg.
January 31, 2022

GSAPP is pleased to announce the recipients of the Anti-Racism Curriculum Development Award and the Dean’s Unlearning Whiteness Award, each designed to support to faculty in advancing the field through research in anti-racist pedagogy, scholarship, and practice. Selected by a jury review, the recipients will complete their respective projects in Summer 2022. We extend our gratitude and congratulations to:

Curriculum Development Award

Dean’s Unlearning Whiteness Award


Principles and Praxis of Spatial Justice
Ifeoma Ebo

  • Historical narratives embedded in American urban infrastructure and policy have served to both segregate communities of color and engender within them an identity of invisibility. That the legacies of racism continue to structure and inform the built environment of global cities is a gaping wound that can only be healed through urban alchemy—the reparation or reconstruction of the intentional, codified ways in which the urban landscape has been used to promote the subjugation of people based on their race. This seminar focuses on the critical analysis of the architecture and urbanism of New York City through the lens of values and principles for Spatial Justice. Spatial Justice advances collective liberation by challenging the privilege and power structures that use design and planning as tools of oppression. This work takes place through critical understandings of historical contexts, the development of new forms of knowledge and practice in our present, and speculating on future radical efforts of racial, social, and cultural reparation, through the process and outcomes of design. Students will be introduced to the practice of Design and Spatial Justice by building a shared foundation of anti-racist forms of communal knowledge and spatial practices, grounded in lived experiences. The course will begin with a collective understanding of the concept and principles of Spatial Justice - its historical underpinnings rooted in an ideology of environmental justice and its connection to the history of injustice in the New York City built environment.

Transinstitutional Pedagogy and Dark Rurality II
Jerome Haferd

  • This project seeks support to research and develop transinstitutional studio course material for the “Dark Rurality II Sojourner Truth: Legacy, Fugitivity, as Radical Urbanism” project during Summer 2022 research period, and generate publication content and panel event(s) to advance the connection between BIPOC-centered courses and new forms of pedagogy and structure. This proposal builds on the ongoing work of Dark Matter University, co-created by GSAPP faculty Justin Moore, myself, and others to challenge the ‘container’ and content of design education. This includes transformative anti-racist pedagogical initiatives, including a series of “cross-listed, transinstitutional” course structures developed for a number of anti-racist design seminars in 2020-21. This proposed grant would aid in developing this course and future cross-institutional studio collaboration, supporting the ability for partner institutions (in particular GSAPP) to generate visible dialogue and published material around emerging forms of pedagogy. This research will contribute to Unlearning Whiteness by testing and building discourse on three fronts:
    • Part 1 Pedagogy: “cross-institutional” course development and research collaboration with anti-racist outcomes
    • Part 2 Disciplinary Content: including Black feminist approach to landscape urbanism, centering BIPOC subjectivities, material and modes of practice, cross-DMU-network dialogue
    • Part 3 Expanded Outcomes: publication material, research, and event(s) that build on the course (the what) and pedagogical models (the how), and collaborations with an expanded set of partners in Northeast Ohio and the Hudson Valley.

A Nation of Walls
Chat Travieso

  • This seminar course traces the history of race barriers to dissect architecture’s active role in sustaining and perpetuating racial apartheid in the United States. The class builds off my ongoing research project titled A Nation of Walls, in which I have been cataloguing the physical remnants and political legacies of these obstructions throughout the country. While much attention has been rightfully given to how racist policies and practices, such as redlining, racially restrictive covenants, and racial zoning ordinances, have contributed to racial segregation, not as much focus has been paid to how built forms (namely walls, fences, barricades, road closures, and buffer strips) have supported such systems. In the process of unpacking the history of race barriers, this course explores issues of racial capitalism and spatial politics from the Reconstruction era to the present day.

Pedagogy, Place, and Publics: An Equity Analysis of GSAPP Historic Preservation Studios
Erica Avrami

  • The intention of this research is to examine how place-based studios, as a pedagogical legacy, perpetuate and/or challenge Whiteness within preservation education. The research involves collecting data about and analyzing the geographies, publics, narratives, collaborators, and learning objectives of past GSAPP historic preservation studios, with an eye toward understanding histories and practices of racism and other forms of exclusion, forging stronger community-engaged collaborations and co-learning opportunities, and working toward greater equity and reciprocity in HP studios moving forward.
    This research proposal takes a critical yet action-oriented position: historic preservation is a predominantly White field, and GSAPP is a predominantly White institution that established the first graduate program in the field. The GSAPP HP program has an affirmative obligation to reckon with how its curricula and pedagogy, over time, constructed a body of knowledge and practice—and thus shaped the profession—in ways that may have contributed to the under-representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color’s stories in the landscape and built environment. The HP program’s own history should serve as an evidentiary basis for informing and guiding anti-racist and anti-bias curricula moving forward.

Spectacular Vernacular: A Countercanonical Index For The Global Majority
Lexi Tsien and Jelisa Blumberg

  • In the summer of 2022, Lexi Tsien and Jelisa Blumberg propose to develop a countercanonical catalogue of architectural precedents that exhibits alternative methods and modes of built form. Traditional architectural education centers histories and precedents of the western canon, “starchitects”, and vestiges of colonial violence. What has been considered valuable in history continues to hold a metric for how students and young practitioners see value in their own practice. We cannot envision future form without examining what we deem as exemplary from the past and legitimizing spectacular forms of collective worldbuilding that have been erased.
    Radical forms of living, building, and communing already exist but have been long overshadowed by white suprematist thinking. How do we radically transform our understanding of a discipline completely shaped by hegemonic whiteness? This catalogue proposes a countercannon, and in so doing, dismantles and delaminates what has become embedded or disciplined as “canonical.” This project valorizes alternative histories and methodologies of representation, expanding the notion and function of drawing in society beyond Western aesthetics. Spectacular Vernaculars would be grounded in a collection of historical narratives / threads that retell origins of representational techniques that have originated outside of whiteness. This research initiative proposes a printed catalogue and web-based format to gather countercannonical architectures and urban forms, which would extend between the Architecture and Urban Design programs at GSAPP.