Spring Recap

Excerpts from a short presentation at Making Sense of Syria 2014. Serious thanks to Jason Knobloch and Kubi Ackerman for their help in whipping these together.

Excerpts from a short presentation at Making Sense of Syria 2014. Serious thanks to Jason Knobloch and Kubi Ackerman for their help in whipping these together.

Memorial Day has come and gone, the Nats (like much of the MLB right now) are off to a strange start to the season, and once again I've got a brief wrap-up on the semester that passed and some notes on the summer to come. 

Some things that happened.
In March, Special Project Office organized Making Sense of Syria 2014, a conference-slash-workshop on data collection, data analysis, and conflict, centered around the Syrian conflict, hosted by the interaction design program at the School for Visual Arts. For two weekends stretched across three weeks, a few dozen people from diverse organizations participated in a conversation and design charrette, much needed not only now but as the nature of twenty-first-century conflict continues to develop and change. Included above are excerpts from a brief presentation I gave on GDELT, which later informed some of the research and speculation to come out of the workshop. A report from SPO will be released later this summer.

In April, Gergely Baics and I spoke at Raising the Bar. The talk "Zoning Before Zoning" touched upon some of our recent collaborative research on land use and density in mid-nineteenth-century New York. In several ways, the talk was a fantastic experience: a bar in Hell's Kitchen was a more-than-fitting venue for the content, and the informality offered us the chance to ground the talk in the everyday experience of the city without the accidental veneer of academia (and the distance from experience it induces) that more formal situations can cause. Here's a great little synopsis from Urban Omnibus.

May was a busy month. Early on, I participated in the second of three workshops on labor practices in architecture organized by Who Builds Your Architecture? (the first was in February). The conversation centered around the role, responsibility, and perhaps most importantly the agency of the architect. Beyond the immediate and egregious justice issues, I am heartened by committed discussion on the wide range of unanswered ethical questions in architecture. In that vein, although on a different set of ethics topics altogether (the range is in fact very wide), the ARPA Journal's first issue was released in May and contains "The City Is Not a Lab" on some fundamental architectural applied research assumptions and the dangers of experimental approaches in urban contexts.

May also included my first commencement ceremony at Barnard, which included a performance by 2014 Barnard Medal of Distinction recipient Patti Smith and a handful of admittedly emotional moments that I hadn't anticipated, that I felt more fully as a person than as an educator, and that I will likely never forget. I am grateful for the school year that has just recently come to a close, and I wish the class of 2014 all the best in their adventures.

Some things happening this summer.
The summer is full of making good on stuff started in the Spring. Special Project Office is up and running on some extremely interesting collaborations and internal research projects. One in particular, analyzing the systems geography of financial access in New York, is taking shape as a fantastically fruitful proof-of-concept for a sociospatial and networked methodological approach to understanding the city.

Pen-to-paper and fingers-on-keyboards, a great deal of writing-related work is also underway this summer. And Intersticity has ramped up for the summer with exciting new architectural projects in the office. In many ways, I'm coming around to this annual cadence during which the summers are the chance to practice what I preach during the school year and learn on-the-ground what the research might really mean. But, of course, new writing and design work is all for later description, once things are written and designed.

And so, with that, the Nats just swept the Phillies in a three-game home series, and I think this summer is good to go.