Studio Reports

Spring 2019

The Columbia Community: Promoting Inclusion Through Preservation Studio Report

Faculty
Erica Avrami, Belmont Freeman, Tim Michiels, Andrew Dolkart

Students
Caitlin Rudin, Andres Alvarez-Davila, Erin Murphy, Claire Cancilla, Bingyu Lin, Gwen Stricker, Drew Barnhart, Huanlun Cheng, James Churchill, Emily Junker, Laura Garnier, Kathleen Maloney, Fei Deng, Noramon Bodhidatta, Sarah Sargent, Mariana Avila Flynn, Sohyun Kim, Seo Jun Oh, Micah Tichenor, Yasong Zhou, Sreya Chakraborty, Scott Goodwin, Yu Song, You Wu, Qian Xu

Description
This studio focused on how preservation can serve as a tool to promote social inclusion and belonging within the Columbia community (encompassing both the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses and surrounding neighborhoods), and to build bridges across differences . To embark on this inquiry, faculty challenged students to critically explore the following questions:

  • How are diverse narratives and publics represented in the Columbia community?
  • How does the historic built environment reinforce some narratives versus others, and reflect some publics versus others, and what are the implications of these differences?
  • How can the preservation enterprise intervene, so as to instrumentalize heritage toward greater social inclusion?
Spring 2018
Studio II
A6750-3, A6750-2

The Old Essex County Jail in Newark, New Jersey

Faculty
Belmont Freeman, Bryony Roberts

Students
Madeline Berry, Xianqi Fan, Gabriela Figuereo, Shivali Gaikwad, Shreya Ghoshal, Rob Kesack, Janine Lang, Myron Wang, Maura Whang, Qianye Yu, Daniella Zamora

Description
Taught in two parallel sections, this studio engaged the site of the Old Essex County Jail in Newark, New Jersey. The original structure was built to designs by the notable Philadelphia architect John Haviland in 1837, with additions in 1890, 1895, and 1905. The site was decommissioned as a jail in 1971, but was used for storage and office space until its complete abandonment in the 1990s. The jail was listed on the New Jersey State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1991. However, a devastating fire in 2001 destroyed a number of buildings and set the site on a path of accelerated deterioration due to open roofs and collapsed walls. Today the site, owned by the City of Newark, lies within the University Heights Science Park and has been slated for UHSP development.

Belmont Freeman’s section focused on Architectural Design and looked at options for new programming and building on the site. Students developed detailed proposals for new construction for institutional reuse like a technology center or a charter school hub, and also explored housing options.

Bryony Roberts’s section focused on Interpretive Design and focused on developing proposals for editing and transforming the structure in order to communicate its architectural and social history. Students chose to develop projects centered on incarceration history, materials and technology, and community hubs.

Studio II
A6750‑1

Newburgh: Re-Thinking Heritage Tourism

Faculty
Liz McEnaney

Students
Whitney Bayers, Aura Maria Jaramillo, Victoria Pardo, Ryan Zeek, Sunny Zhang, Zhiyue Zhang

Description
The statement of purpose set forth by the studio establishes the City of Newburgh as an attractor. In the context of the studio project, the term “attractor” refers to a place where people are proud to live and desire to visit, whether it be from nearby towns, the greater region, or internationally. An attractor does not have one focus, but rather is a destination for history, culture, food, and the arts - all facets of Newburgh’s diversity.

Enhancing the diversity of Newburgh through the lens of historic preservation is the foundation upon which the final proposal is ultimately based. The goal throughout the course of the project was to critically examine whether and how preservation could be used to bolster existing historic resources and catalyze revitalization in the city’s built environment as a whole.

Newburgh has a long relationship with historic preservation, positioning it as a perfect candidate for renewed preservation interventions outlined in the studio proposal. Washington’s Headquarters, located in the heart of Newburgh, is the first publicly-owned and preserved historic site in the United States, and outside of New York City, Newburgh is home to the largest contiguous National Register Historic District in New York State. While deferred maintenance and high rates of vacancy have grown as the city’s economy has declined, Newburgh is rebuilding: restoring vacant properties and bringing its varied residential and commercial spaces back to life. This reinvestment in the city is shown through new events, and comes from a wide variety of communities, all sharing the common goal of progress for Newburgh.

Fall 2017
Studio III
Pla6909-1

Heritage, Education, and Urban Resilience: Building Alternative Futures in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Faculty
Erica Avrami, William Raynolds

Students
Allison Arlotta, Ethan Boote, Whigham Covington, Emily Fesette, Yi Jiang, Adam Lubitz, Nilika Mistry, Morgan O’Hara, Siri Olson (Teaching Assistant), Ramya Ramanathan, Katherine Taylor-Hasty

Description
This joint historic preservation and urban planning studio built upon the assessment of a Fall 2015 advanced studio of historic preservation, urban planning, and real estate development studios. It explored how Gingerbread houses can serve an integrative and catalytic function in relation to urban form, creative placemaking, and community resilience. This inquiry approached the Gingerbreads from two perspectives. The first focused on the use of the Gingerbreads for educational and cultural purposes to understand the opportunities and challenges confronted by this particular institutional community, which is geographically dispersed. The second examined the Gingerbreads in a physical community by focusing on a particular neighborhood/node, Pacot, in which Gingerbreads are geographically concentrated and represent a significant element of the urban fabric. The studio worked closely with the following organizations that have plans in place to adapt Gingerbreads for educational and cultural use.

Spring 2017
Studio II
A6750-1

Past as Prologue: Preservation as a Tool for Social Inclusion

Site
Poughkeepsie, New York

Faculty
Erica Avrami

Students
Allison Arlotta, Ethan Boote, Yiyang Li, Adam Lubitz (Teaching Assistant), Morgan O’Hara, Siri Olson, Ziye Tang, Katherine Taylor-Hasty

Description
A small, post-industrial city on the Hudson River, Poughkeepsie has stood witness to transformations both paradigmatically American and uniquely site specific. The convergence of these histories throughout the built and social fabric of the city presents a series of ongoing challenges and compelling opportunities.

The most commonly cited obstacles with which Poughkeepsie must grapple today are the legacies of twentieth century urban renewal and economic fallout from the loss of industry. In exploring the roots of these legacies, it is clear that the city’s urban form and social configuration have undergone permutations in tandem, though often to asymmetrical effects. Understanding these conditions requires an in-depth consideration of the city’s kaleidoscoping demographic composition, the organizing role of community institutions, infrastructural connectivity both within the city and to the surrounding region, efforts to preserve the city’s historic resources and narratives, as well as Poughkeepsie’s capacities for political will.

Beyond this wider historical and contextual framework, this studio paid particular focus to Poughkeepsie’s Main Street as a subject. The findings presented here highlight the significance of Main Street as a mixed-use commercial corridor, the strength of which resides in its diverse community of small business owners. The social-spatial dynamics that have contributed to the evolution of this urban artery underscore the imperative for integrating explicitly inclusionary practices into preservation work writ large.

Fall 2016
Advanced Studio
Pla6909-1

Heritage, Tourism, and Urbanism: The Landscape and Development of Lalibela, Ethiopia

Faculty
Erica Avrami, William Raynolds

Students
Jahnavi Aluri, Veronica Chuah, Jessica Cruz, Tatiana Kopelman Martin, Cheng Liao, Sarah Reddan, Cameron Robertson, Stacy Tomczyk, Mengjie Zhan, Tania Alam, Boer Deng, Nicholas Kazmierski, Adam Lubitz, Dorothy MacAusland, Matthias Neill, Stacy Tomczyk, Laura Weinstein-Berman

Description
A sustainable future for Lalibela is contingent upon balancing issues of rapid urban growth, increasing tourism, natural and cultural resource protection, spiritual workshop, and community quality of life. To explore these challenges and how they might be address, faculty from Columbia GSAPP and from Addis Ababa University’s Chair of Conversation of Urban and Architectural Heritage, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction, and City Development (AAU-EiABC) collaborated with the World Monuments Fund to develop a student research project at Lalibela.

This project sought to examine the following:

  • The values of Lalibela and how they are represented and spatialized beyond the physical fabric of the churches to the vernacular architecture, the landscape and townspace, and the visual and spiritual experience
  • The growth of Lalibela, as evidenced by land use and consumption, building patterns, and transportation
  • The user experience at Lalibela, including that of religious worshipers and clergy, local residents, and foreign and domestic tourists
  • The visitor infrastructure and services of Lalibela, including hostels, restaurants, transit, signage, etc.
  • The overall management of Lalibela as a community, place of pilgrimage and worship, landscape, and network of stakeholders ranging from local to international.
Spring 2016
Studio II
A6750‑1

Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill Neighborhoods Studio Report

Faculty
Erica Avrami, Ward Dennis, Belmont Freeman, William Raynolds

Students
Tania Alam, Cameron Robertson, Valentina Angelucci, Allison Semrad, Jessica Betz, Andrea Sforza, Elizabeth Canon, Teresa Spears, Marisa Kefalidis, Fei Teng, Mayssa Jallad, Stacy Tomczyk, Sarah Menegus, Laura Weinstein, Nicole Mezydlo, Katrina Virbitsky, Ariane Prache, Mengjie Zhang, Alexander Ray, Qi Zhang, Sara Reddan, Yuanyi Zhang

Description
The purpose of this study was to investigate the rarely researched long-term impacts of designation on historic districts; specifically on form and aesthetics of the neighborhood, materials and conditions of structures, and socioeconomic conditions of the community.

Based on this investigation and subsequent analysis, we developed design interventions for infill development and adaptive reuse projects, conservation strategies and recommendations for the neighborhood.

With the recent anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, we have the opportunity to evaluate the effects of our current preservation tools, in order to assess whether these are the best possible tools for the job. This study is a preliminary attempt to evaluate the effectiveness and unintended impacts of historic districts in particular. Additionally, rapid new development is currently taking place around our study area – larger towers are being erected only a few blocks away, making this a timely study on the role of historic districts, as this development has not yet spread through our study area.

It is important to note that this study was not driven by a pre-determined goal, such as additional landmark designation. The outcomes and recommendations of this study came directly out of the data that was collected and analyzed.

Fall 2015
Studio III
Pla6909-1

Port-au-Prince, Haiti Historic Preservation Studio Report

Faculty
Erica Avrami, William Raynolds

Students
Tyler Atwood, Catherine Chao, Maria de la Torre, Catherine Fischer, Bo He, Charles Hovanic, Cherie-Nicole Leo, Juan Carlos Maquilón, Michael Perles, Barrett Reiter, Alberto Sanchez-Sanchez, Klara Xia

Description
Recognizing both the important work that has already been done, as well as the challenges ahead to preserve Haiti’s Gingerbread heritage, Columbia GSAPP developed an advanced studio course focused on the Gingerbreads as important elements of the urban environment of Port-au-Prince. Given the value they hold to the people of Haiti, the Gingerbreads are not simply historic buildings in need of repair; they are a form of living heritage that can help to catalyze change within the physical and social fabric of the community. The studio concept developed from this premise. Drawing students from historic preservation, urban planning, and real estate development, the studio explored three fundamental questions:

  • What can the Gingerbread houses contribute to the surrounding urban context (socially, environmentally, and economically?
  • What can the surrounding urban context contribute to the preservation and valorization of the Gingerbread houses?
  • What challenges do the Gingerbread houses currently face and how might those challenges be overcome?
Spring 2015
Studio II
A6750-1

Flushing Meadows - Corona Park Studio Report

Faculty
Andrew Dolkart, Erica Avrami, Belmont Freeman

Students
Raudhah Borhanuddin, Pui Yu Chan, Tonia Sing Chi, Maria de la Torre, Alexander Ford, Nicholas Gervasi, Chuck Hovanic, Cherie-Nicole Leo, Cheng Liao, Caroline Raftery, Barrett Reiter, William Ross, Alberto Sanchez-Sanchez, Gwendolyn Stegall, Sarah Yoon

Description
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a complex landscape. It is composed of structures, landscape elements, recreational spaces, and passive green spaces. Tied to these elements is a set of equally complex values supported by a diverse group of stakeholders. The layers of overlapping aesthetic, economic, environmental, historical, social, and symbolic values that are ascribed to the park reveal the difficulty in developing a cohesive identity and management plan for the park. Our analysis informs us that for preservation planning, design, and conservation proposals for the park to be effective, we cannot take a “blank-slate” approach, because we recognize that there are multiple layers of significance embedded in this landscape. The easy choice is to demolish everything and build a new, “better” park, as has been tried before, but this not only erases the park’s history, evident in its many “relics” or remnants of the world’s fairs and other major events, but it also negates the qualities of the park that are strongest in its use today - the reality that this park is quite successfully used for a vast range of activities. In contrast to former top-down master plan approaches, our studio has determined through an in-depth analysis of the park’s history, current use, and context, that the competing narratives of the park call for more surgical, directed interventions, tailored to address specific issues in the park.

Rather than perceiving the world’s fair remnants and other vestiges of the park’s history as ruins that obstruct the full social and recreational functionality of the park today, these entities should be seen as expressive generators of the rich and complex narratives that ultimately endow the landscape with its significance and make it meaningful to a variety of stakeholders. Understanding this, the preservation planning guidelines, feasibility studies, and design interventions presented in this report address how the existing historic features and landscape of the park could be used in a way that enhances their value – “valorizes” them – for present and future park users. Ultimately, the goal of this studio was to produce a set of guidelines and proposals that informs decision-making for the treatment of the park’s historic resources in a way that balances the needs of all stakeholders.

Fall 2014

Yangon at a Turning Point: Progress, Heritage, and Community

Faculty
Erica Avrami

Students
Alexander Corey, Ola El Hariri, Peter Erwin, Hannah Fleisher, Franziska Grimm, Erica Mollon, David Perlmutter, Jet Richardson, Holly Stubbs, Yesmin Vega Valdivieso and Sarah Vonesh

Description
The report, prepared by Columbia University students from GSAPP, the School of International and Public Affairs and the Law School, in a joint planning and historic preservation studio, presents strategies for addressing community preservation in the context of a vision for a future Yangon that protects both people and places and reinforces heritage and community through development.

The report grounds this vision with five sets of strategy-based recommendations, focusing on issues of transparency and equity, economic diversity, cultural inclusiveness, habitability and affordability, and an integrated community. The strategies and recommendations are based on the belief that, through protecting existing communities from displacement and conserving the historic environment, Yangon can become an even more desirable place to live, work, and visit.

Fall 2013
Studio V
A4005/A4105

Recommissioning Saarinen: Reconsidering the Former U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway

Faculty
Craig Konyk, Jorge Otero-Pailos

Students
Whitney Starbuck Boykin, Chelsea Brandt, Jung Hwa Lim, Monica Rhee, Saovanee (Annie) Sethiwan, Talene Montgomery, Lindsey Barker, Beth Miller, Susan Bopp, Michael Schissel

Description
This studio looked at the question of what to do with architecturally significant Embassies designed by important mid-century architects once they have been decommissioned. How do you propose a new use and thus preserve a former U.S. Embassy?

Students where tasked with a brief to propose alternative uses (or perhaps better Re-Adaptive Uses) for the existing Saarinen Embassy that considered the multitude of issues that it exposes: the evolving role of US diplomatic presence, issues of security and surveillance, the projection of values that an architectural artifact embodies. What then should be the new role of this building in the current civic life of Oslo?

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