Program Overview

The Institute’s program is comprehensive, rigorous, and tailored to individual students with varying backgrounds, interests, and experience. The semester focuses on history, theory, and analysis in architecture and urban design, and emphasizes the exploration of architecture as a mode of cultural production. The program aims to develop students’ understanding of the built environment and its engagement with broader social, political, and ecological systems, while simultaneously developing their conceptual and technical abilities in design, representation, and applied technology.

The Institute’s one-semester summer program consists of two distinct phases:

1: Research, Documentation, and Analysis
2: Design and Transformation

During phase 1, students learn the tools of architectural representation and analysis while investigating a specific building or site in New York City. Students begin by researching their site, and developing an intimate understanding of its past and present conditions through the use of maps, images, plans, models, and diagrams. In the second half of the term students then develop a conceptual response to their site, and an architectural proposition for its transformation.

At the Institute, each student’s project and topic of study are unique. Project sites are chosen individually by the Institute’s directors to suit each student’s individual interests and experience, and research plays an instrumental role in the formulation of design proposals. The program’s focus on New York City allows students the opportunity to immerse themselves in one of the world’s most dynamic cities, and to engage directly with the urban conditions in which their projects are to be situated. The use of digital design and presentation media encourages dynamic interpretations of a city in constant transformation.