The Land Lab combines 21st-century science teaching with community engagement and service learning. The Living Wall provides a teaching environment within which students an co-exist with living things – plants, animals, and insects – while they interact with local ecosystems and draw from global resources. Inside and outside the Land Lab, students learn by integrating classroom and laboratory studies with meaningful community service.
New York City and Wichita, KS, are among the many cities in the United States in which the state regularly spends more than one million dollars to incarcerate prisoners who live within a single census block. Advocacy organizations, city planners, and community groups working with released prisoners are asking: where are these ‘million dollar blocks,’ and what’s happening there? The Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) at Columbia is working with the Justice Mapping Center to produce a range of maps of this phenomenon.
Twenty-one large high school buildings in New York City are being transformed into campuses of small schools, part of the New Century High School Initiative of New Visions for Public Schools. At stake is a dramatic shift in school reform policy, and a basic reorganization of the existing infrastructure of many inner city schools. Laura Kurgan Design worked as the lead design, planning, and process consultant on facilities with New Visions for Public Schools on six of the 21 masterplans. The results—design strategies, a program, education policy and a radically participatory process—have been adopted as best practices and serve as a model for campuses in transition.
High-resolution images from the Ikonos and QuickBird satellites were purchased to display four vulnerable landscapes: a desert in Iraq, the rain forest in Cameroon, the tundra in Alaska, and the Atlantic Ocean, off Ghana at the 0 degrees longitude, and 0 degrees latitude. Printed at 40” x 84”, the images echoed a certain monochromatic Minimalism, but their production required investigative research and work with investigative journalists and non-governmental advocacy groups, and their political and ethical stakes were at once significant and not altogether self-evident. (“Architecture by Numbers,” Whitney Museum at Altria, New York, 2004)
Three small high schools with a focus on the arts, jointly housed inside Lehman High School in the Bronx, sought to transform an obsolete woodshop and lab into a shared teaching lab and online graphic arts studio. Laura Kurgan Design was commissioned by New Visions for Public Schools to design the space, but more importantly to create a participatory process for the collaborative design of shared spaces in small school campuses. Here the multiple stakeholders had to invent modes of teaching with computers when access to computing cannot be taken for granted, and the challenges came to affect everything from table design to room configuration.
A non-headquarters for WITNESS, a human rights organization which provides video technology and training to local activists, in the 80 Arts building at BAM in Brooklyn. The space is understood as a node in the large network which WITNESS brings together, a place for meeting, working, archiving, producing, and dispersing. The design, across two floors of the building, also had to reflect and communicate the mission of WITNESS.
Laura Kurgan Design teamed with Leeser Architecture, new media artist Golan Levin, and StoSS Landscape Urbanism, to create an interactive public installation for Lower Manhattan. The prototype was designed for Battery Park City with a view towards future sites. The project was one of four finalists in a competition organized by the Van Alen Institute and the Architectural League of New York. In 1.800.NY.CALLS, you sign up and the city calls you. You inhabit and participate in a full scale map of the city.
Birds are the triggers for the on-off switches in an outdoor display of real-time video feeds from the 2004 Athens Olympics. This project, developed in collaboration with Natalie Jeremijenko, was a finalist in the competition for outdoor public art projects in ATHENS 2004, “Catch the Light: 7 Routes through Athens.”
Chicago’s celebrated recreational lakefront ends abruptly seven miles north of the Loop. Seeking ideas for a two-mile extension, the Graham Foundation sponsored a competition “for a 21st-century park: A vision for the extension of Lincoln Park.” This project, created in collaboration with Kate Orff and Natalie Jeremijenko, was one of six finalists. It imagined ooZ, a reverse form of “urban zoo” in which humans respond to agendas set by wildlife, as well as a redesign strategy to enhance a series of microclimates at the water’s edge, which clean the lake, and double function as a park.
Sometimes a space for architecture is created in unexpected ways. The principals of some experimental small high schools in the Bronx, faced with the necessity of surviving inside larger schools, came up with some innovative design tactics without meaning to. This report on some spatial aspects of the New Century High School Initiative, as it unfolded at five school buildings in the Bronx, suggests that the ways in which they were struggling to create territory for themselves was fundamentally architectural. The report builds on and formalizes their ad hoc maneuvers in order to propose a unique set of strategies for the conversion of large high schools into campuses of small schools, guided by spontaneous approaches to design. (printed report funded by NYSCA).
A pioneering non-profit art gallery in lower Manhattan, Art in General, proposed a competition to “reconfigure” its space, on two non-contiguous floors of a hardware store in Tribeca. In collaboration with Leslie Gill, Architect, and Natalie Jeremijenko, this design strategy (one of five short-listed finalists) involved location-based media to take advantage of both physical and virtual spaces and allow innovative site-specific curatorial practices.
Experimental engineer Natalie Jeremijenko needed to rebuild her information technology research and product design lab in Dunham Hall at the Engineering School, Yale University. Design here meant inventing rules to utilize hallway space in relation to an active hub of production, collaboration, work, learning, and the display of products.
New York, September 11, 2001, Four Days Later….
On September 15, 2001, the high-resolution sensors of the Ikonos satellite passed over lower Manhattan, collecting data. For an exhibition on the “rhetorics of surveillance” at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien in Karlsruhe, this installation asked about the relation between catastrophe and memory, suffering and exposure, information and experience—by printing the satellite image across 102 square meters of the gallery’s floor.
AROUND GROUND ZERO was designed as a pocket-sized, fold-out map to orient viewers to the former site of the World Trade Center during the winter of 2001-2002. It sought to enable both pedestrian and intellectual access to the area in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Two editions were printed and distributed for free, the first in December 2001 and a second in March 2002. As such, the maps were dated and updated to indicate changes to the area.
A non-headquarters for WITNESS, a human rights organization which provides video technology and training to local activists, in a 2000 sf Tribeca space. The entire media oriented organzations was built off the infrastructure of a millenium party and served as a temporary working space for WITNESS for four years. Completed August 2001.
The Yen, the Euro, and the Dollar make up about 90% of the global trade in money. Time—in the shortest possible increments—seems as important, if not more, than space in this trans-national system of exchange and flow. This computer-based installation—part of “The Art of Money” at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, and later in “Money and Value,” Biel/Bierne, EXPO.02, Swiss National Exposition—used recorded financial data feeds from Reuters to track the movements of these three currencies in the days and hours immediately surrounding the turnover of the Millennium. The later version displayed the data in real time over the duration of the exhibition. When trading stopped, so did the clock.
How do satellites remember events? An installation using SPOT commercial satellite imagery to investigate a mass grave site in Kosovo during the NATO air campaign, tried to show how satellites might sometimes form the only traces of particular memories. Exhibited in “World Views: Maps and Art,” Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, September 1999 – January 2000. Catalogue. Re-exhibited in “Kosov@,” Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon, April 2000; and “Anxious Omniscience,” Princeton University Art Gallery, February-April 2002
In 1995 a database of high resolution satellite images was declassified by the Clinton administration. This means that the first satellite images ever taken in the late 60’s were at a high resolution of up to 2 meters. This installation used declassified high-resolution Corona satellite imagery of Cape Town, South Africa, 1968. Exhibited in “The Art of Detection: Surveillance in Society,” List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, October-December 1997; and “Transatlantico,” Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderne, Las de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands), April-June 1998. Catalogues.
Taking advantage of a then newly operational network of 24 Global Positioning Satellites, this installation recorded the traces, and presented in real time, an attempt to inhabit the unruly and disorienting spaces of satellite mapping system. Exhibited as the inaugural installation, Department of Architecture and Design, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, November 1995 – February 1996. Solo exhibition. Catalogue