In time and place where a 500,000 square foot, 16-story, $353 million “bronze bastion” perched on a parcel of Manhattan’s most prime real estate — 9 floors of which are dedicated to luxury lofts from which 617 undergraduates will have the privilege of gazing down upon “the concrete jungle where dreams are made” for a mere $2375 per month, while the The New School, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to the advancement of education, is unofficially on a hiring freeze and operating on a $5.8 million deficit while students are being notified that the administration “have been reviewing costs, optimizing financial aid, and other forms of assistance, and seeking efficiencies where ever possible” however, tuition is going to rise, “but our efforts have kept The New School below the national average for the last 3 years;” although undergraduate tuition at The New School exceeds the national average by approximately $10k per year ( $40k per/degree), which happens to be the same tuition that provides nearly 90% of the school’s revenue; and funds Provost Tim Marshell’s annual salary of $466,273, in addition to his $80,000 stipend for housing and upkeep, which actually pales in comparison to his administrative colleagues whom collectively consume nearly 25% of the The New School budget (including the $2,494,535 spoils President Emeritus Bob Kerrey received last year on top of his housing entitlement of $417,970, in addition to a $108,377 contribution toward his retirement; while Chief Operating Officer James Murtha banked $484,642 and $100,159 for housing) paid for in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Defense and supplemented by a Board of Trustees that includes such private-sector notables as The Durst Organization, the Rudin Management Company, Proskauer Rose, and Louis Vuitton, while faculty 80% of whom are part-time and have not received a salary increase in nearly 2 years nor have much, rather any say in the allocation of funding but are dedicated to developing innovative ways to increase student’s capacities “to understand, contribute to, and succeed in a rapidly changing society, and thus make the world a better and more just place” “taking full advantage of ‘our’ New York City (not the University) as locus and connectivity to urban global centers”—can claim to be sustainable,* should come as no surprise considering this is the same city in which the Mayor, whose net worth is $27 billion wields the power to implement a plan “to enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” “because a city, like a business, needs a long-term strategic plan” yet circumvents any and all democratic and participatory frameworks for developing said plan that might have afforded some of the 1.6 million New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet with less than $10,830 per year, an opportunity to incorporate their needs* into the “long-term sustainability* of ‘the’ city with the largest income gap in the country where of the residents earn an average income of $371,754, nearly 38 times as much as the wading in the shallow end of the earnings pool ($9,845), in a “tax-free” state where “nurturing a start-up” equates to funneling $1.4 billion in cash and tax incentives toward the development of a 300mm semiconductor wafer to make way for its future sibling, 450mm, the $4.8 billion spawn of a global consortium, i.e. economic orgy, between New York State, CNSE, IBM, Intel, Samsung, TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and the State University of Albany’s College of Nanoscience and Engineering (CNSE), an institution housed on a $14 billion, 80,000 square foot campus dedicated to confronting “one of the nation’s formidable problems...(the) looming shortage of scientific and engineering personnel” by training college graduates and undergraduates, high school students, and even “the youngest members of our community” in kindergartens across the Hudson or Tech Valley to become “the most adept workforce in the Nation,” a Nation whose President portends Winning ‘The Future is dependent upon “out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world” by opening classrooms to transnational business conglomerates willing to “invest (billions) in innovation”, i.e. “tap into ‘our’ most valuable resources—”creativity and imagination”—in order to sustain* our, I mean, their ‘Race To the Top.’
exploring architectures of
meaning, making, & memory,
Architecture is often designed as a didactic entity with circumscribed utility. Its programs, scripts, codes, and corresponding values pervade society and soma. These prefigurative, sociotechnical innovations construct physical and psychological barriers between mind and body, individual and society, production and consumption, past and present. Human and non-human agents are relegated to the role of occupant or user in the name of efficiency, productivity...and, most recently, sustainability. Consequently, we are withdrawing into increasingly mechanized spaces, thus limiting our capacity to effectively engage within our environments—to critically confront the present, to think.
The New School University Center is not immune to this reality. School’d is a mind-body-space mash up that [re]frames The New School University Center as a confluence of past, present, and future(s). This critical wayfinding system/ multi-media intervention is constructed upon a series of tactics for [dis]engagement that tune up perceptual affordances, so that individuals can tune out of habitual patterns, and tune in to a heightened awareness of the [in]visible infrastructures of meaning, making, and memory inscribed in our landscape, embedded in our psyche, and part of our soma. By extracting audiophiles from the site’s past and inserting them into the present, School’d invites individuals to contemplate the transformative capacities of architecture (and, more broadly, all design strategies) to radically alter the historiographies, geographies, and psychologies of our everyday
In a word, to learn.
With limited knowledge but expanded literacies we are equipped to journey into the terra incognita of sustainability.
ReMixed Media Festival: The New School, New York City. 26 April 2014. Performance.
in collaboration with