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M.S. Critical, Curatorial & Conceptual Practices


The Masters of Science in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) offers advanced training in the fields of architectural criticism, publishing, curating, exhibiting, writing, and research through a two-year, full-time course of intensive academic study and independent research. The program recognizes that architectural production is multi-faceted and diverse and that careers in architecture often extend beyond traditional modes of professional practice and academic scholarship, while at the same time reflecting and building upon them.

The CCCP program is structured to reflect this heterogeneity and the multiple sites and formats of exchange through which the field of architecture operates while at the same time sponsoring the ongoing critical development and interaction of such a matrix of practices and institutions. The program’s emphasis is thus on forging new critical, theoretical, and historical tools, and producing new and rigorous concepts and strategies for researching, presenting, displaying, and disseminating modern and contemporary architecture and closely related fields. The program is aimed primarily (but not exclusively) at those with a background in architecture who wish to advance and expand their critical and research skills in order to pursue professional and leadership careers as architectural critics, theorists, journalists, historians, editors, publishers, curators, gallerists, institute staff and directors, teachers, and research-based practitioners.

Students might be seeking further academic training or specialization after a professional degree or years of teaching, or even at mid-career. They might also have worked in a related field and be seeking an academic forum to develop additional specializations in architecture. The program also provides the highest level of preparatory training for application to PhD programs in architectural history and theory.

The CCCP program hosted a public lecture by Adrian Lahoud entitled, “Rights of Future Generations.” The second year CCCP class organized “Renegotiating Precarity,” a conference on new economies of labor, with Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, Andrew Ross, Peggy Deamer, and others. The program also held “CCCP@10” at Wadi Rum in the Jordanian desert. This event brought together graduates and friends of the program for a discussion and a series of presentations to mark and celebrate ten years of CCCP.

CCCP Arch Colloquium I: Operating Platforms – Publication, Exhibition, Research
The domain of architectural work is multi-faceted, as are the multiple forms of practice and knowledge that reflect back upon it. In this sense architectural expertise appears in many formats, media, and institutional frameworks that extend beyond, while often informing, the discipline’s role in the production of buildings. This heterogeneous field incorporates periodicals, books, exhibitions, installations, research institutes and labs, pedagogy, criticism, manifestos, historical scholarship, posters, films, videos, performances, conferences, and much more. These many architectural modalities, as well as their institutional and mediatic interfaces, or forms of dissemination, have each, in distinct ways, played important roles in the conceptualization and transformation of the discipline.
We will investigate what role these have played in the formulation and understanding of architecture and will work to identify their contribution to seminal debates, to transformations in architecture’s technical and aesthetic characteristics, to sponsoring critical experimentation, as well as to the careers of many architects. We will distinguish the different forms of expertise they manifest; ask how they function as interfaces and to what audiences; and consider whether they serve to consolidate and codify existing architectural paradigms or to forge new critical and conceptual and well as aesthetic, material, and programmatic possibilities. We will look at how various practices emerged in their specific historical context and ask to what degree did they function to maintain a status quo or to act as critical and polemical launchings. We will ask, in turn, what scope there is for pushing new formats, developing new critical concepts, opening new trajectories of investigation, and expanding the very territories of the discipline.
CCCP Arch Colloquium II: Documents and Discourse
The seminar will approach contemporary critical discourse through the filter of documents and documentation. In specific historical examples, and with a range of theoretical texts, the status, definition, use and authority of documents for architecture, architectural history, architectural exhibitions and architecture’s other media practices will be examined and assessed. Through the question of the document the seminar will survey a range of methodologies and approaches that have served to define, demarcate, or redirect the stakes of the discipline over the last decades.
In addition, the seminar will interrogate the current status of theory, its recent history, its application, its utility, as well as the anxieties that it has often fostered within and outside architecture. We will read a series of architectural and theoretical texts that offer important conceptual and intellectual tools for addressing architecture’s relation to technology, media, ecology, sexuality, spatial politics, and a range of other problems and directions. We will examine how, through new research and methodological approaches, the conceptual parameters of architectural history, theory, criticism, and practice have been expanded and how canonical figures and their works have been recast in distinct terms. The ambition of the seminar is twofold, aiming both to expand our familiarity with contemporary debates and to provide a focused forum for ongoing discussion regarding the articulation of new sites and strategies for research, writing, and practice.
In addition to the required colloquia and thesis courses, CCCP students have the opportunity to take a range of courses offered at GSAPP and elsewhere in the University. Relevant courses within GSAPP are found primarily within the offerings in history and theory, and include lectures and seminars and, when relevant, can take the form of an independent study under the supervision of a faculty member. Some of these courses have been designed specifically for the CCCP program, others are part of the broader history and theory curriculum at the school. Students are also able to enroll in Visual Studies courses, as well as non-studio based offerings in the Planning and Preservation departments. Students have also enrolled in courses offered by Art History, Anthropology, and in the Schools of Law and Journalism, as well as taking foreign language classes.
The second year of the CCCP program is dedicated primarily to the research and writing/production of a final thesis.This can take the form of: a written thesis on a historical or theoretical topic; a portfolio of critical writings; a print-based demonstration and visualization of rigorous, original research, or; it could involve the conceptualization, design, and a detailed prospectus and documentation for, or when feasible the production of, an exhibition, publication, institute, major event, web-based initiative, time-based project, etc. Regardless of format, it must contain evidence of substantive research and conceptual rigor, and involve a written component and other materials that can be submitted in the form of a bound document in its final presentation. Each student conducts his/her research independently, under the supervision of a faculty advisor, as well as participating in mid-term and final reviews each semester.
The thesis is intended to be the culmination of a CCCP student’s education and work at the GSAPP. It provides the opportunity to undertake and develop a project in detail, a project that demonstrates the student’s capacity to make a significant and original contribution to the field of architecture (or a closely related discipline), and which allows them to synthesize their critical approach, experience, and expertise in a relevant format of his/her choice. In this regard it is also conceived as an opportunity to build on and demonstrate critical and research skills that will be relevant to subsequent pursuit of a professional or academic career, whether as an architectural critic, theorist, journalist, historian, editor, publisher, curator, gallerist, institute director, teacher, designer, research-based practitioner, etc. Concomitant with the ambitions of the CCCP program more generally, emphasis is on forging new critical, theoretical, and historical tools, and producing new concepts and strategies for researching, displaying, and disseminating modern and contemporary architecture and closely related fields.


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