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SSCE, Day 2: Abstract Concepts and a Linear Park

June 29, 2010


In what seemed to be a return to yesterday’s agenda, this morning all 55 of us met once again (in the classroom we refer to as the “glass corner”) to receive introductions to and presentations from the heads of each of the Parsons School of Constructed Environments (SCE) design departments.  We met Dean Morrish, the head of the SCE program, David Leven, the head of the M. Arch program, Matthew Tanteri, an assistant professor in the MFA Lighting Design Program, and Alfred Zollinger, an assistant professor in the MFA Interior Design Program.  All four presented on their own disciplines, explaining, in depth, the missions and goals of their respective programs and how they integrated with the other two disciplines in the School of Constructed Environments.  Dean Morrish and professor Leven were the most animated and well-spoken of the four; they clearly have a great enthusiasm for what they do and for working with students.

The remainder of the morning was fairly short-lived, as plans to watch a short film were halted due to technical difficulties with the projection system, so we were let out early.

The afternoon was where things really started to pick up.  After returning to our small studio groups, we first discussed our string-and-paper experiments we created yesterday. Here is a new picture of my final experiment, taken with a better camera. I wish I had taken pictures of the other projects so that I could more easily describe them, however, they were all interesting and unique, contorting string and paper in similar ways and generating a great deal of discussion of form, geometry, use of materials, structure, and lighting and shadows, among other things.  As we were having our discussions I really began to feel like I was in architecture school (a good thing); we were discussing things that I would never have discussed in a theatrical setting, even though the topics were always in the back of my mind.  It is so freeing to finally be able to discuss these things in an open forum, where everyone else is thinking the same things and feeding off each other.  It was actually quite exciting!

Finally, after discussing projects we arrived at the moment we had all been waiting for — our first class field trip!  We all hopped on a bus to the Meatpacking District, where the High Line elevated park system (which I referred to in yesterday’s post) begins.  From there we were given free reign to explore the park at our own pace and take photos, sketch, or do anything else we desired to prepare for another string-and-paper interpretation (this time of a section of this park) due on Thursday.

I have to say, the High Line is one of the most dramatic parks I have set foot in — not for its grandeur or size, but for its contrast to the environment around it: New York City.  Walking up the entrance staircase, you arrive in the park from underneath, as if you were climbing the stairs to one of the many elevated subway stations around the city.  You then emerge into a lush garden of wild brush, grasses, trees, and flowers, with a meandering concrete footpath leading the way alongside stretches of the original train tracks that have been integrated into the landscape.  It really is an impressive feat of design, restoration, and preservation.

The park winds its way underneath the famous Standard Hotel, as well as a few other industrial and residential buildings, on its journey up towards midtown, and features several interesting design elements such as art installations, water features, and a bleacher-style seating area that looks directly down onto Tenth Ave, turning the life of the city into a spectator sport!

Surprisingly, it is actually a fairly serene and peaceful park.  There were a great number of people lying on benches sunbathing, reading books, sketching, or just generally enjoying this small slice of nature in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world.  The completed section of the park (the first of three) comprises about a twenty-block walk, but strolling along you don’t notice the distance, as you never have to cross an intersection or wait for a red light.  It is strangely transporting in a way, removing you from the street-level distractions of the city, allowing you to enjoy the spectacular views and swaying greenery.

I, too, sat down for about an hour and a half, to sketch quietly with a pad and markers.  It was probably the most relaxed I have felt in the past four weeks, and definitely since I have arrived in New York.  I will hopefully make my way back here again to relax and enjoy the peace and “quiet” when I have some free time.

I took plenty of photos on my walk, which are now up on my Flickr page, for your viewing pleasure.  Enjoy!

Tomorrow: our first Representation (drafting) class, and a visit to the Met!


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