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Bard College Catalogue 2023-24
Faculty: Ross Exo Adams and Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco (codirectors), Betsy Clifton, Michael Robinson Cohen, Stephanie Kyuyoung Lee, Ivan Lopez-Munuera, Thena Jean-hee Tak, Olga Touloumi
Overview: Architecture at Bard builds its pedagogy around a concern for the present, an acute attention to structural inequalities, and a longing for other futures. The curriculum frames architecture as an art form and an argument—a situated aesthetic spatial practice whose propositions aim to reconfigure our collective present toward more just futures. The program builds across architectural cultures, design techniques, histories, and propositions to equip students with an expansive and experimental approach toward the field that simultaneously opens paths for engaging other disciplines spatially. The program teaches students that architecture is a site for transformative, insurgent spatial and material possibilities with which to imagine worlds otherwise.
Requirements: To moderate in Architecture, students must complete two Analytical Spatial Practices courses (Architecture 111 and Architecture 211, a new course) and two Discourses on Space courses (Art History and Visual Culture 125 or 126, and an Architecture elective). Additionally, they must present a portfolio of work to date, a brief essay that reflects on the work in the portfolio and speculates on the student’s future intellectual development within architecture, and a representative work from an elective course on space. Graduation requirements include a choice of either a total of two Analytical Spatial Practices courses and three Design Studio-Seminars (design-focused path), or three Analytical Spatial Practices courses and two Design Studio-Seminars (research-focused path); two Discourses on Space courses; one Open Practices Workshop; and the Senior Project.
Course Clusters: Structurally, the curriculum is composed of four families of courses that build upon this concept.
• Analytical Spatial Practices (ASP) courses introduce architectural practice and techniques within a sociopolitical field. They harness methods of design and representations of space as analytical tools to pose challenging environmental, social, and political questions.
• Design Studio-Seminars (DSS) are conceived as a hybrid studio model that situates the practice of creative design work within a broader, transdiscursive series of lectures, readings, and discussions around a given question.
• Discourses on Space (DS) position architecture as a way of understanding the world beyond and below the single building. These elective seminars and lecture courses share a scope that interrogates the production of space and questions the social, material, and historical structures that animate the ways in which we inhabit the world.y.
• Open Practices Workshops (OPW) are intensive, 2-credit, one-month-long studio courses that invite emerging and renowned external practitioners and thinkers to expose students to a variety of contemporary practices and modes of architectural design.
Program Sequence: The curriculum builds a pedagogical sequence that cuts across the four course clusters to encourage common points of inquiry and give disciplinary and methodological progression over the duration of the program.
• Planetary: Recognizing issues like climate change brings to the fore the trans-scalar relations that directly tie buildings, bodies, cities, and ecosystems together. In this context, the planetary lens shifts our view of architecture from the isolated object to the structurally situated and historically entangled design practice—an art form that necessarily cuts across and interrelates multiple scales, disciplines, bodies, and actors.
• Constituencies: Building on an interscalar understanding of architecture, the second phase in the sequence grounds architectural design and discourse in the spatial concerns of specific social groups, movements, and struggles. It opens a critical framework by which to develop projects alongside various groups, organizations, or actors that directly address issues such as spatial justice, housing rights, gentrification, and spatial inequalities of gender and race.
• Futures: The final phase of the sequence mobilizes the intellectual maturity, design skills, and technical agility of the students to approach architecture as a site of open experimentation in building collective futures. This phase is the most methodologically open and intellectually challenging of the three. It aims to empower students to explore design as a means to imagine realities of collective spatial life otherwise.
In addition to the courses listed below, recent offerings include Architecture of an Urbanized Planet: Designing Body and World; The Politics of Infrastructure; Romanesque and Gothic Art and Architecture; Governing the World: An Architectural History; Urban American History; and Domesticity and Power.
Senior Projects in Architecture:
- “Audience Patina: An Enmeshment of Architecture and Theater”
- “Eyes on the Street: Racialized Bodies and Surveillance in Urban Space”
- “Water Weight”
Current and Forthcoming Facilities: Bard architecture students benefit from a small but thriving studio culture, housed in three locations on campus. The Garcia-Renart House offers two studio spaces; model-making stations; foam cutters, and high-quality, multiformat printing equipment. New Henderson offers a fully equipped model-making and installation workshop with laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC fabrication equipment. The Achebe Architecture Flex Space provides an additional studio and seminar space. Plans for a substantial expansion of the facilities are underway.
Note: The Architecture Program does not offer an accredited professional degree. Students who wish to proceed to a professional graduate degree program are encouraged to take Calculus I (Mathematics 141) and Introduction to Physics I (Physics 141), which allows them to apply with advanced standing to most architecture graduate programs in the United States. They are also encouraged to discuss entry requirements for graduate programs with their advisers.
Architecture as Media: How to Build a Ruin
CROSS-LISTED: ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES
This studio course approaches design practice as an inherent mediation between changes in natural and cultural forces on buildings and environments. Engaging with ideas of decay, disrepair, and decrepitude, the class creates fictional histories of dying industries situated in rural and suburban environments, from farms to malls, bank branches, and gas stations. Students utilize techniques of contemporary digital drafting, diagramming, physical modeling, and compositional image making to explore regenerative design processes and new spatial possibilities for “ruins.”
Domestic Agents: Open Practices Workshop
CROSS-LISTED: ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES
In this half-semester workshop, students create “domestic agents”—spatial objects that question the norms and rituals of our everyday lives through design tools and inquisitive disruption. Through case studies, the class examines how societal expectations of domestic design have emerged and transformed, and then reimagines the home in more inclusive, provocative, and liberating futures.
Planetary Institutions: Architecture and Fiction
CROSS-LISTED: ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
What can we learn when we approach architecture as a “planetary” practice? How does this perspective fundamentally alter what it means to practice architecture? This design studio-seminar introduces architecture as a world-making practice by acknowledging its inherently fictional capacity to imagine not only new spaces or forms, but other ways of being—modes of existence that depart from those of our present world. Students design planetary institutions, architectural interventions that seek to instigate public imaginaries around sites of common existence—air, water, soil, forest, clouds—as a basis to exploit the narrative and fictional capacity of architecture at a moment of climatic and cultural transformation.
An Atlas of Radical Ruralism: Hard Labor, Soft Space
CROSS-LISTED: ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES, HUMAN RIGHTS
This research and design studio focuses on rural approaches to social, racial, and economic liberation. By looking at historical, fictional, and realized case studies, students map out a spatial taxonomy of cooperatives, intentional communities, regenerative agriculture farms, and back-to-the-land initiatives. They create and analyze each project through 2D and 3D drawings alongside diagramming and multimedia collaging. Through this collective process, the class articulates notions of “land” and “labor” in tandem with new dialogues on how the countryside operates as a site for radical forms of collective living.
At Scale: Architectural Models
CROSS-LISTED: STUDIO ARTS
Architectural models reference the built world through scale and abstraction. As physical objects, they represent futures (proposals), histories (sites and contexts), and current conditions (material resources, shifting societal demands), often slipping between these temporalities. Learning how to make models is as important as learning to read what they tell us about the world. In this studio, students make an architectural model as a continuous practice, utilizing a spectrum of physical and digital fabrication methods, including woodworking, casting, digital modeling, and laser cutting.
Architectural Entanglements with Labor
CROSS-LISTED: HUMAN RIGHTS
DESIGNATED: OSUN COURSE
Architecture is both the product of labor and the organizer of its relations, yet often these issues are overshadowed by the broader discourse of design. In shifting labor to the foreground, the course considers the spatio-political role architecture has played in mediating bodies, work, and capital. Students analyze transformations to sites of work (offices, factories, tech campuses) as well as spaces that have been produced to feed architectural production and its cycles of extraction (camps, slums, mines) or that reproduce forms of maintenance (houses, squares, resorts).
Latin American Collectives and Cooperatives: Spatio-Political Alliances
CROSS-LISTED: GIS, HUMAN RIGHTS, LAIS
An introduction to the cooperatives, collectives, and communes that formed throughout Latin America over the last 100 years in response to the growth of capitalism and the neoliberal state. These groups of architects, artists, and builders have joined forces with activists, rebels, constituents, and movements to use spatial transformation as a means of political liberation. Together, they have not only transformed their houses, shared spaces, towns, and neighborhoods but they have also confronted the state, private property, and capitalist structures.
Contagiousness, Vulnerable Environments: Architecture as Research
CROSS-LISTED: HUMAN RIGHTS
Readings and discussions survey the history of pandemics and the ways architecture is shaped by them—and how architecture shapes pandemics in return. The course is also a platform for developing a curatorial project, as students work on selected case studies through elements such as maps, interviews, films, drawings, historic documents, and recreations. They learn how to make research archives, situating debates, compiling information, conceptualizing materials, and considering the potential and limitations of diverse methodologies.
Designing Potential Histories of “El Bohio” off Anarchy Row
Students engage with the history of an activist community organization as a scaffold for advancing alternative practices of design. Between 1978 and 2001, the collective CHARAS (representing the names of the group’s members) organized educational, arts, and social programming that primarily served the Puerto Rican community in New York’s East Village. Today, their base of operations, PS 64 (El Bohio, or the hut), is vacant—and adjacent to an encampment of unhoused people. The class imagines the adaptive reuse of the vacant school and other sites on the block.
Tender Thresholds: An Architecture of Animal Belonging
CROSS-LISTED: ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES
Most often, human spatial organizations are imposed upon animals; exceptions are typically environments where interactions can be managed, such as farms and zoos. How might architecture equally consider the habitat, ecology, and behavior of other animals? Is there a way to support and even participate in their migration patterns rather than imposing our own? This Collective Futures design studio foregrounds these questions to rethink established animal-human relationships. Prerequisite: Architecture 111 or permission of the instructor.
Gender Architecture: Embodying Gatherings
CROSS-LISTED: GSS, HUMAN RIGHTS
From the domestic realm to public restrooms and from social media to parliaments, gender and space are contested notions that are shaped by and, in turn, shape the ways bodies and communities come together. In all of these cases, gatherings have been the focus of resistance, creating an overall spatial entanglement that has helped redefine gender. The course explores the spatial and bodily practices of contemporary gatherings, drawing on architectural and artistic theories since the 1960s in conversation with an intersectional view (from feminism to eco-queer and trans theory).
Urban Creatures: Open Practices Workshop II
In this one-month intensive studio, students design “urban creatures”— architectural artifacts that interact with relevant urban conditions through their symbolism, location, and monumentality. As opposed to an architecture that predetermines its uses, proposals are meant to take on a life of their own in their context. Designing urban creatures pushes the class to operate beyond habit and work outside of preconceived architectural responses, experimenting instead with an architecture in dialogue with contemporary urban conditions. Prerequisites: Architecture 111 and Architecture 130, or permission of the program.
Senior Project Colloquium
The colloquium, required for architecture majors, provides a collective space for seniors to discuss work in progress. Sessions may include student presentations and critiques of works in progress, screenings, and discussions of architectural precedents and contemporary discourse.