Schools Converge over Global Responsibility

Event: Convergence NYC 2008; Deans, Directors & Student Debates and ARCH SCHOOLS 2008 Exhibition Opening
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.18.08
Speakers: Dean George Ranalli, AIA, Jessica Lewis — The City College of NY (CCNY); Professor Reinhold Martin, Karen Kubey — Columbia University; Dean Anthony Vidler, Theodora Doulamis — The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; Dean Kent Kleinman, AIA, Lisa Hollywood — Cornell University; Dean Urs Gauchat, Gene Dassing — NJ Institute of Technology (NJIT); Dean Judith DiMaio, AIA, Evan Lapore — NY Institute of Technology (NYIT); Director of Graduate Architecture David Leven, AIA, Solveg Tryggvadottir — Parsons The New School for Design; Dean Stan Allen, Wai Chu — Princeton University; Dean Mark Mistur, Ann Cosgrove — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Undergraduate Program Chair Jonathan Massey, AIA, Vincent Appel — Syracuse University; Dean Brian Carter, Matthew Hume — SUNY Buffalo; Dean Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, Assistant Dean Keith Krumwiede, Matt Roman — Yale University
Participating Schools: CCNY; Columbia University; The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art; Cornell University; NJIT; NYIT; Parsons The New School for Design; Pratt Institute; Princeton University; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Syracuse University; SUNY Buffalo; University of Pennsylvania; Yale University
Participating Firms: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners; Dattner Architects; FXFOWLE Architects; HOK; KPF; Perkins + Will; SHoP Architects
Hosts: Convergence NYC; AIANY; Center for Architecture Foundation; American Institute of Architecture Students
Sponsors: Convergence: Cornell University and AIA NY State; ARCH SCHOOLS Exhibition: Bentley Systems; Carnegie Corporation of New York; RMJM Hillier; Kohn Pedersen Fox; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Beyer Blinder Belle: Architects and Planners; Davis Brody Bond Aedas; Tsao & McKown Architects; Butler Rogers Baskett; ABC Imaging

Courtesy AIANY

Both educators and students are acutely aware of their shifting position in the global marketplace. Convergence, a yearly student networking event, centered on the theme of global interconnection. The annual Deans, Directors, and Student Debates were sharpened this year by the addition of student voices. More than 140 students from universities in and around NYC took part in discussions as well as firm tours, presentations, and a mentoring program.

During the debates, American architects were characterized as exporting their services and “colonizing” the world with Western design, though panelists thought this relationship is shifting. Many deans and directors spoke of the important role of architects and educators in this new world order, but Yale University student Matt Roman refocused the discussion to the students. Before assuming global responsibility, “I need to be trained as an architect first,” Roman said.

Yale University Dean of Architecture Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, admonished domestic architects practicing internationally — most of whom he said have no experience in foreign languages and “murder English” — for their lack of communication skills. Global practice dictates that a strong liberal arts education should act as a prerequisite for design training, a sentiment echoed by New York Institute of Technology Dean Judith DiMaio, AIA, who stated that as architects “we need to know how to communicate and do it well.”