The New York-Paris Students: From Paper Models to Ceramic Constructions

The 29 students in this year’s GSAPP New York-Paris Program have undergone an impressive transformation, the results of which were apparent to all present at Columbia Global Centers | Paris in May during their Intensif Workshop.

December 09, 2013

The New York-Paris Program introduces students to the disciplines of architecture, urban studies, and planning as practiced in New York (fall location) and Paris (spring location). With cross-cultural perspective in mind, students explore the historical, social and political development of urban form, and the roles played by architects, planners and preservationists in this development. Studio work in Paris is largely focused on drawings, models, and diagrams.

The spring semester program culminates in an Intensif Workshop in which the students create and construct physical 1:1-scale models, applying what they have learned over the course of the year.

“Going from drawing to reality is never clear,” admits Taylor Smith. He and his peers were given 24 hours to create a design proposal, working with high-quality ceramics,* for a structure used to exhibit works produced in their visual studies classes (photo, drawing, models, and film).

They were also expected to speculate on the types of activities and auxiliary uses for these structures, keeping in mind their location and potential users: the central courtyard and lawn of Columbia Global Centers | Europe itself, which houses numerous university programs.

“We pretty much live at Reid Hall and are familiar with circulation patterns, the way these spaces are typically used,” says Hannah Manning-Scott, “The lawn space is underutilized; I think it’s the nicest space and not engaged as much as it could be.” Her team developed a structure for outdoor film projections and “had a lot of problem-solving to deal with.”

“They had to deal with considerably more than in years past,” explains Patrick O’Connor, Program Director of the Paris semester. “Not only were students asked to challenge the preconceived notions of installation, uses, and limits of ceramic tiles, but they also had to design a structural support capable of withstanding exterior conditions, stresses, and loads in an active public space, to remain in use for over a week.  The learning curve is immense and given that the whole process takes place in less than 7 days, I think the students did extremely well. It’s always exciting to watch them discover the realities and constraints of the design build process. For most, this is their first experience translating design into built form and many have never even been in a design studio before they begin the program. To see how far they have developed in such a short period of time and how they outdo themselves for the Intensif is always amazing to me."


*generously provided by ASCER ceramic tile manufacturers of Spain