Week 1 Round-Up

It’s the end of the first full week of classes for us and we B.F.A. students have already met two guest speakers, visited 3+ museums, worked full internship days, and had a city-wide snow day. It’s incredible to think that this is just the very beginning and we have so much yet to see and explore and learn.

What we’ve been up to:

  • Seen: Chris Ofili‘s show at the New Museum, David Weiss‘s works at the Swiss Institute, Entang Wiharso‘s show at Marc Straus Gallery, Yasumasu Morimura‘s show at Luhring Augustine Chelsea, Tomi Ungerer‘s retrospective at The Drawing Center, Yael Bartana‘s videos at Petzel Gallery – all for ART 3903 Professional Practice, taught by Jane Farver.
  • Visited: MoMA, also for Professional Practice, to see the the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibit, The Forever Now contemporary art exhibit, and Sturtevant‘s retrospective.
  • Met: Holly Block at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, where she is director, and Mari Spirito, founder of Protocinema.
  • Worked: at our respective internships, which range from art galleries to web start-ups to fashion (look out for a future detailed post on each of our internship placements).
  • Living: all over Manhattan from the Upper West Side to Midtown to Chinatown to the Financial District. Fellow blogger Veronica has already described living situation at the Markle Residence, where a few of us live, but the rest found apartments elsewhere.

IMG_8908B.F.A. students Pauline Shongov (left) and Haley Xiao (right) with artist Nicole Eisenman’s paintings at the MoMA.

This semester, there are only eight B.F.A.s so our designated studio workspace feels spacious already. However, in late February we’ll be moving from our current location near Union Square to an even larger space in the Financial District. We are all extremely excited to see the new AAP NYC home, and our moving-in process will all be detailed here on the blog in the coming weeks.

Welcome to New York City!

As I placed the last of my bags on the floor of my Manhattan residence, I realized that the fruits of my labor had indeed paid off. The pouring rain, the heavy snow, the struggle to move all of my art supplies in one piece were all worth it. My excitement only grew as I looked out the window and saw a picturesque view of the skyline, a sight which would become my daily reality. I currently live in the Markle Residence, located on 123 W. 13th Street- an all girls dormitory-style residence which is located just about five minutes away from our current studio. The rooms are fully furnished, and even have their own bathrooms! There is also a meal plan which allows you to save on the cost of food while being able to eat very delicious and substantial meals.

The residents of the Markle range in age from young to old, but they all have one thing in common: they are hardworking women who work either full- or part-time (working is an aspect of the Markle that serves as a prerequisite to living there). Their busy schedules, however, never prevent the residents from starting a friendly conversation or asking about your day – a refreshing experience in contrast to the busy and hurried mindset that sometimes feels pervasive in the city that never sleeps. It is not only the residents who make you feel at home, but also the entire staff. Upon arrival, I was unaware of how things in a city worked, coming from a more suburban environment. Typically, when one rings a doorbell, someone comes to open the door for you. In New York City, however, an alarm sounds and you let yourself in. Being completely oblivious to that when I first arrived, I rang the buzzer at the Markle and waited for someone to open the door. After several minutes, a security guard came to the door, only to ask me what I was doing. After she let me in, she explained the buzzer etiquette of New York, and helped me carry all of my things to my room.

Even though I was unfamiliar with my surroundings, I felt comfortable and aware that I was in good hands. As I began to settle into my new home, I met up with some friends who also live at the Markle. We scoped out the gym, which is located on the 17th floor of the residence and gazed outside through our incredible window of opportunity.

100The view from the gym at the Markle Residence

Reflections on the Semester

It’s been quite the roller coaster here in AAP NYC this month! As the holidays approach, our lives have felt a little bit like this:

12 Days of Christmas for a Student

12 Days of Christmas (Student Version)

In commemoration, here’s a summation of our output this semester:

5 Client Workshops
We were divided in groups of 2-5 to work on a professional planning project with New York City based clients, such as the Staten Island Arts Council, Long Island City Partnership, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Department of City Planning, and Gensler. After final presentations and reports churned out this week, most of us are ready to hit the hay.

4 Different Classes
Urban Design Studio, Workshop, Professional Planning Colloquium, & Green Infrastructure

3 Professional Development Products
Many of us spent the semester revamping our resumes, portfolios, and writing samples

2 Days of Internships
No sleeping in: Every Tuesdays and Wednesday – time to suit up and get to work.

& a month of studio bonding!
As stressful as this semester has been, it’s safe to say we all learned a lot about group dynamics, about each other, and about project management, not to mention how the real estate and planning development process begins to unfold in New York. Hopefully, these lessons will carry with us in our future careers no matter where we land up, because if you can plan in the country’s biggest and most complex metropolis, well…hopefully you can figure out planning anywhere ;)

Check out some Postcards from AAP NYC below, highlighted in every issue of the Cornell Planner this past fall.

The Grand Finale

Everything good has to come to an end, and so does studio! With such an open ended and theoretical foundation for thought, our chapel studio had landed in very interesting and varied places. Each student’s idea of spirituality opened up new avenues of perceiving a chapel or a sanctuary. Some dealt with light, some dealt with self-perception, some with sound, and others with psyche. Our panel of seven critics had a lot to say. They were Mark Cruvellier, Chair of Cornell AAP, Bob Balder, our very own executive director of Cornell AAP NYC, Lawrence Blough, NYC-based architect and associate professor at Pratt Institute, Andrew Reyniak, NYC-based architect, Nick Marshall, architect and partner at Chase Marshall Architects NOLA, and last but not least Jim Williamson, director the of B.Arch. Program at Cornell AAP and spiritual guru! After weeks of prep and poetry writing, model making at enormous scales, and divine explorations, we sought to answer the questions of how to elevate the ordinary and everyday to deific proportions. Because NYC is the center of grit, business, and pleasure, we often tacked on to the little things, such as evanescense, preemptive nostalgia, veiling, vestiges, permeability, introspection, and innocence. The results were each very different, but a commonality between all of the projects was a folly-like space which accomodated just a few people, where light and city fabric, even refuse, could become one with the inhabitant. That even the detritis of the city would become something beautiful. Most exciting was the fact that we got to learn a bit more about what living in a city means to each of us, and to really steep in a particular environment. The site became the true soul of each one of our projects. Our rigorous analysis and numerous site visits really paid off and were clear. There was much multimedia used in student presentations, and there was a solution appealing to every sense in the human body.

If you are interested in perusing our work, it can be found at this website.



Many thanks to our professors at the illustrious and pensive firm, Tom Phifer and Partners. Gabe and Tom, thank you for teaching us to see and exercise the beauty in the mundane.

Strictly Business

At the apex of our professional practice class we have business presentations. Led by two geniuses of the corporate world of architecture, our class was aimed all semester at learning good business. We learned the ropes of how to start a firm, what the ethics of good business look, sound, and feel like, how to write out a fee proposal – you name it! Now, Brad Perkins and James Greenberg have put us to the test: we were to draft up a business plan AND presentation to start our own companies. I being a theater and film buff naturally went the production company route. Others, with their endless cleverness, engineered laundry-bar facility combos, designers to superheroes, and Instagram-friendly gyms. After hours and hours of researching income pro formas, cost estimates, related markets, and statistics, we assembled manuscripts for a business plan. The real proof in the pudding was our presentation. In front of a shark tank – like audience we were asked to present an eight minute pitch for our respective startups. We had been schooled in how to give presentations before. The strictest rules being, 1. Simplify and entice—this is the trailer to the movie, 2.  Don’t convey more than five points on a slide, 3. Compelling graphics make a huge difference, 4.  Use props, 5. Engage with the audience.

After giving a riveting presentation filled with gimmicks, images, and easily-readable-info galore, all in 8 minutes or less, the panel was asked to behave like a bank, miserly uncle, or organization who could be coerced into funding our projects. They got to ask us questions and delve deeper into the supposed structure of our projects.

Overall, I think the exercise was a success—most people’s projects seemed to receive the ‘monopoly money’ they requested, and an enormous amount of business sense was imbued into our brains. This was one of the rare moments of pragmatism in our highly theoretical architecture careers, and the snap to reality was most definitely rewarding. It’s the kind of life lesson that can only carry us to more successful, more fruitful endeavors.