At the initiation of College of Architecture and Design (CoAD) interim Dean Tony Schuman, six area schools of architecture are participating in a semester-long housing studio organized around the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ASCA) Timber in the City design competition.

Each of the six schools — City College, Cooper Union, New Jersey Institute of Technology, New York Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute, and Parsons School of Design — is approaching the problem in the context of their own curricular setting:  graduate or undergraduate, multi-section core studio or upper level options studio; focus on urban design, timber construction, materials science; and the set of social, economic and political issues that frame the discussion of “housing.”

The schools held a kick-off event at Parsons Feb. 5, 2019, featuring keynote talks by Joel Towers, executive dean of the Parsons School of Design, and noted housing expert Karen Kubey. Participating faculty each offered a brief summary of their studio approach presented in PechaKucha format — 15 slides at 20 seconds each. A series of round table discussions involved all the students in examining housing from their own personal histories, from precedent studies carried out in their school studios, and their response to the challenges inherent in the issue of providing adequate shelter for all citizens.

Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton and Dean Robert Kirkbride of the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons were central in crafting the goals and structure of the InterSchool Housing Studio and in establishing the format and logistics of the kick-off event. The participating schools will arrange shared reviews during the semester as well as a culminating event at the end of the term.

For Dean Schuman, the impetus for this event came from three sources: his role this past year as public director for education on the American Institute for Architects (AIA) New York Board of Directors; his experience in the 1990s as chair of the New York Chapter of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, which ran several inter-school design projects; and his long engagement as a housing activist and advocate for community development. Of the opening event, Schuman said, “I was overwhelmed by the level of enthusiasm brought to the table by both students and faculty. It’s like people were waiting for an opportunity like this to come along. We are all eager to see the results of this shared exploration of a common problem seen through the lenses of different pedagogies.”