Innovations in Curricula
The IDC Foundation has funded the following initiatives that spur innovation in curricula at the intersection of architecture, engineering, and building design:
Two New Master’s Degree Programs at New York Institute of Technology
Funding from the IDC Foundation enabled the creation of two new 30-credit post-professional graduate degrees, taught in conjunction with the new IDC Foundation-funded Fab Lab. The Architecture, Computational Technologies, M.S. program integrates critical relationships between science and culture, activating new knowledge with a focus on the history and theory of representation, robotics, and cybernetics. It enables students to explore design research at the frontiers of architecture through experimentation in computation design, robotic systems applied to fabrication and interactivity, and materiality. It allows students to creatively apply emergent technologies to unconventional spatial investigations, resulting in full-scale architectural prototypes and components.
The Architecture, Health and Design, M.S. program focuses on healthcare, interior, industrial, and product design, utilizing design technologies like simulation, visualization, robotic interactions, and fabrication, as well as computational design and new materials. It enables students to explore opportunities for innovation in planning, architecture, and design with a focus on health and wellness. It allows students to experiment with computational design, prototyping, augmented and intelligent materials, or climate simulation systems and develop spatial futures, rethinking how design and the built environment impact humans.
Two Initiatives to Accelerate Interdisciplinary Learning in the Curriculum – The Cooper Union
In conjunction with creation of the AACE Lab, the IDC Foundation provided funding over three years for two initiatives designed to integrate and foster more interdisciplinary learning in the curriculum. The two initiatives are the IDC Foundation Innovation Fund for the Deans of the Schools of Architecture and Engineering to launch new interdisciplinary and cutting-edge enterprises; and, the IDC Foundation AACE Lab Advancement Fund, from which faculty and students can propose and implement their “burgeoning” innovation ideas and galvanize activity in the new AACE Lab.
These two initiatives are laying a foundation for interdisciplinary education and innovation to become standard benchmarks of the Cooper curriculum. They are providing time for that foundation to become firm, and they are demonstrating emerging cycles of success to generate excitement and momentum that will advance further interdisciplinary and innovative projects.
"Co-Designing Brooklyn’s Hidden Heritage: The Weeksville Experience" – Pratt Institute
IDC Foundation funding enabled undergraduate and graduate students in the Pratt School of Architecture to collaborate in the Fall semester of 2020 with 18 students from Medgar Evers Preparatory College High School in Crown Heights to examine the past and present of Brooklyn so that the local students could be empowered to have a voice in their neighborhood’s future. A curriculum – titled “Co-Designing Brooklyn’s Hidden Heritage: The Weeksville Experience” – was developed by Carisima Koenig, visiting assistant professor in the Graduate Architecture and Urban Design (GAUD) program, and Scott Ruff, adjunct associate professor of undergraduate architecture. With the two faculty leads, the Pratt students developed and taught the curriculum for the high school students. Employing both 2D and 3D modeling, the high school and Pratt students connected on using planning, design, and architecture to advance their ideas.
The Weeksville neighborhood was selected because it has particularly deep layers of hidden history as the site of one of the first free Black settlements in the nation, founded in 1838. Its footprint was later lost beneath the development of Crown Heights. Then in 1968, its surviving 19th-century structures were rediscovered due to their orientation to an old trade road rather than the modern streets.
In addition to the Pratt architecture students gaining experience in teaching and collaboration, the high school students got time in the studio culture of higher education and the profession of architecture. These insights allowed them to see themselves in creative careers and be inspired to have agency in improving neighborhood spaces in their communities.