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Letter from the Dean

Andrés jaque
January 19, 2024

Dear GSAPP students and colleagues,

As we start a new semester, I want to welcome all of you back to the School, and take this opportunity to thank our program directors, sequence coordinators and faculty at large for putting together such a timely and needed pedagogical frame across programs for the Spring of 2024. As this week’s studio lotteries, course presentations, and syllabi have shown, GSAPP anticipates change through (and as) our disciplines. Change manifests itself now as the inseparability of design, discourse, and activism.

Next Monday, we will celebrate the sixth AFFIRMATION. This is an opportunity to think collectively beyond disciplinary divides about what the agency of material, spatial and relational settings is now, and how it is mobilized. At a time when a world founded on the intersection of carbonization, extractivism, colonization, racialization, anthropocentrism, ableism, inequality, patriarchy, and technocracy is cracking, AFFIRMATIONS brings together designers, researchers, planners, and activists to affirm and interrogate how to think and redesign the built environment.

During the next ten weeks, we will be welcoming exceptional interlocutors: Jack Halberstam, Samia Henni, Rob Nixon, Elizabeth Povinelli, Paul B. Preciado, Filipa Ramos, C. Riley Snorton, Eyal Weizman, and David Wengrow, who will engage in a conversation with GSAPP faculty, guests, and students moderated by Bart-Jan Polman, and in connection with a planetary cohort of participants from all around the world. Together, we will interrogate how our disciplines operate through climate regimes, societal accountabilities, ecological entanglements, and queer/trans eco-territorial-bodiments.

The AFFIRMATIONS sessions are intended to offer a space for the school to reflect and underline what is possible in our studios, courses and clinics. They are also connected to other events that will contribute to our collective discussions this semester. We will have the opportunity to hear from, and discuss the work of Bijoy Jain (Studio Mumbai), Madelon Vriesendorp, and our very own Hilary Sample, Bernard Tschumi (whose game-changing Parc de la Villette is now 40 years old), as well as Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano of LOT-EK, who are the subject of a film by Thomas Piper that we will screen. We will celebrate the inaugural PhD in Urban Planning Lecture with Joe Schaffers of Cape Town’s District Six Museum; a CCCP Lecture with Hamza Walker of LAXART; the Detlef Mertins Lecture on the Histories of Modernity with Dwight Carey; the Constructing (Activist) Practice conference with young practitioners organized by Juan Herreros; a lecture by Damon Rich of HECTOR; and the The Paul S. Byard Memorial Lecture by Svein Lund, Jonas Norsted, Erik Langdalen and Jorge Otero-Pailos. We will also see five iterations of “The Library is Open” book discussions taking place in very central locations across the School.

Putting together this platform for collective interrogation and affirmation is the result of numerous contributions from many of you, and especially the curatorial insight and dedication of Bart-Jan Polman. The best way to thank all of them (i.e. you) for this is making the best of these opportunities. The future of our disciplines and our worlds to a certain extent depend on these discussions.

You can browse the full event calendar on the website, and I encourage you to look out for the regular newsletters with upcoming events and recommendations.

I am happy to be able to share this with you.

All the best,

Andrés Jaque