In 2010, the School of Architecture, Urban Design, Landscape of the City College of New York underwent a major transition. It outgrew its neoclassical home (Shepard Hall), set in the late 19th century picturesque north campus, and moved into a newly designed and renovated modern building (by Rafael Vinoly) located in the south campus - a fragmented site, dislocated from the life of the active north campus. The opportunity to rethink the way one teaches and learns architecture failed, in my mind, to enhance our experience. Rather, it created more limitations and more inadequate spaces. Each studio was individually located, far from lecture rooms, classrooms, studio support programs and disciplines. An eerie sense of isolation, underpinned by my personal disappointment in the building’s relationship to its context, led me to critically explore other architectural solutions through an awarded thesis project: a counterproposal project of the School of Architecture.
The grand gesture of the proposed school appears to be a green scape that acts as an extension to the adjacent St. Nicholas Park. The generous green roof gradually flows over the city-like studios, classrooms, and administration spaces, softening the boundary between the school and the community. As a civic gesture, programs such as the lecture hall, gallery, and the library are projected and scattered above the green roof, erasing the form of the singular massive building. This allows the public to partake of the public programs offered by the school directly from the roof garden.