Program Introduction

GEOFUTURES MASTER  OF SCIENCE IN ARCHITECTURE PROGRAM

(Post Professional Program in Architecture)

Lydia Kallipoliti & Chris Perry
Program Directors

Sahar Mihandoust and Tazy Momtaz, Coropolis (Geofutures design studio, Spring 2013)

Sahar Mihandoust and Tazy Momtaz, Coropolis (Geofutures design studio, Spring 2013)

Program Description

In 2000, Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen announced that human civilization has entered a new geological age, the Anthropocene. We are running through an Earth epoch whereby the products of human invention and production, including the making of buildings and cities, have unwittingly reformed the planet’s geophysical properties. Perpetual floods, ice melts, tropical outbursts, dryness and other climatic phenomena reflect what we so often refer to as climate change or what sociologist Andrew Ross refers to as “strange weather.”

As the threat of an impending environmental cataclysm is escalating, so is the need to understand the role of architecture in the Anthropocene and its impact on culture and society. Yet, the ambition of the Geofutures Master of Science in Architecture program is not simply to engage architecture as a combative tool against aggravating climatic conditions. Technology, as weaponry and as defense, is not our sole search; neither is an exclusive engagement with teleology. The new geological era of the Anthropocene does not only raise material problems, but also cultural and aesthetic problems. Our perception of the environment and orientation in the world is irreversibly displaced, as the fantasy of our habitation outside of nature, or even the very existence of nature itself, is no longer tenable. Unlike its anthropocentric predecessor, this new world, as Timothy Morton suggests, does not tolerate the separation of humans from nonhumans. It rather imposes an asymmetrical confrontation between the human and the nonhuman, as the pervasion of nonhuman elements with human ones is seamless even in our own physiology.

Considering the literature of radical environmental thinkers like Jane Bennet, Slavoj Zizek, and Timothy Morton, new terms surface in their writing including hyperobjects, hoards, piles, and clouds. These terms are not simply the result of chemical interactions and statistical data, but new objects of environmental representation; they are part of our world and inevitably part of our discipline. Thus, how can we design buildings not only as aesthetic and formal artifacts, but also as new natures – not only in physiological exchange with the existing environment, but also as new environments which challenge and affect the existing climate? How can we understand context and site not only as the given built urban surrounding, but also as the physiological and ecosystemic condition of this surrounding? And in this context, how can we understand the design process as an organizational platform, where different creators, collectives, ideas and technologies can mix and remix, assemble and reassemble? The Geofutures program attempts to engage these and other questions as they relate to the existential crisis of our time, and to develop architectural projects and research as both a catalyst for and representation of the “collaboration between humans and nonhumans” in a time of cultural and environmental anxiety.

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Dean

Evan Douglis, Professor

Address

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
School of Architecture
110 8th Street - Greene Building
Troy, NY 12180 - USA

Main Phones

Front Desk: (+1) 518-276-6466
Dean's Office: (+1) 518-276-6460
Undergrad Admissions: (+1) 518-276-8478
Graduate Admissions: (+1) 518-276-6877

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