Senior Studio

Structuring Fluid Territories: The Typology of the Landscape and the Topology of the City
Professor Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa with teaching Assistant Scott Aker. Richard Wesley Chair

We may have surpassed the point of irreparable damage to our planet, as science confirms that an ecological balance may only be achievable now by artificial means. Anthropocene defines our geological era, understanding the environment as mostly affected by artificial human action. While the environment is understood as a large dynamic self-regulated ecosystem without borders, the causes and effects can be traced everywhere. But the consequence of the ecological crisis is mostly politically measured in cities where large economic interests are concentrated. While the ecological crisis draws attention back to the center, it cannot disregard the regional periphery where ecological forces may emerge. This problem presents a reciprocal continuous project as opposed to the separation between city  / environment, city / landscape, and center / periphery. 

Slavoj Žižek's recent statement "Nature does not exist" has questioned several assumptions and implies many concepts. One such assumption questions the environmental stability of our planet as 'natural' processes reconfigure landscapes out of crisis, such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions or hurricanes. One implication of his statement is the artificially projected signification of the word 'Nature' in our language to the object of study. But in the context of this studio, another implication may also be extended to computer languages and the simulation of environments through fluid dynamics, projecting another layer of signification.

To face these issues, the studio initially proposed to avoid environmental preservation.

Dually purposed as an urban design and as a landscape design studio, students were asked to study social, economical, biological and ecological landscape-urbanism alternative strategies for the systems of bays, rivers, shores and ports that surround and that affect New York City.  Areas of study included New York City's Upper and Lower Bay, East River, Hudson River, Jamaica Bay, and Flushing Bay which were analyzed through both computer assisted and analog simulations. New York City and its surroundings were studied by structuring natural feedback, exchanging information and energy. The studio framed this approach through mega-structural visions as radical interventions that affect the entire region.  Students were asked to consider relationships between the architecture of the city and the artificial structuring of surrounding territories as well as the constitution of form indexed through time, and to study fluid forces through dynamic computational processes. Students mapped, tested and worked both urban and landscape strategies through processes of sedimentation, erosion, and tidal or hydraulic energy, to extend and recode the architecture of New York City.

Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa directed the Senior Studio as a Visiting Associate Professor at UPenn Design (University of Pennsylvania School of Design): landscape urbanism studio with Teaching Assistant Scott Aker of the Undergraduate Program directed by Chair Richard Wesley. Midterm Review and Final Reviews included: Andrew Saunders, Fred Levrat, Richard Wesley, Juan Manuel Villa Carrero and others. The studio consisted in developing a resilient coding for New York City in relation to environmental forces.

Students: Jacob Bennett, Jennifer Chu, Jordan Holmes, Brittany Huang, Zephani Huang, Martina Merlo, Emma Pfeiffer, Brian Rawn, Yong Feng See, Lindsay Wong and Daniel Zuvia.