A while back, we mentioned that Studio-X NYC would be closing its doors at the end of the semester. That day is nearly here, and we wanted to email you, our lovely friends, collaborators, and supporters, to invite you to come celebrate with us and to share our various next steps.

Studio-X NYC was founded by Dean Mark Wigley in 2008. It was the test-site for what has become the Studio-X Global Network: an off-campus space in which GSAPP could experiment with what an urban futures laboratory that was outside the school could be, think, and do.

Over the years, first coordinated by Gavin Browning and then directed by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley, and thanks to an army of innovative collaborators, both from among the GSAPP faculty and student body and elsewhere, Studio-X NYC has prototyped a series of spatial and intellectual formats to promote productive exchange: exchange between the school and the city, interdisciplinary exchange, and, more recently, global exchange.

The experiment succeeded: today, the Studio-X Global Network has expanded to include dynamic nodes in RioIstanbulMumbaiJohannesburg, and Beijing, as well as lab outposts in TokyoSão Paolo, and Amman. Thanks to shared research and programs coordinated by Director of Studio-X Global Network Programming, Marina Otero, the network now offers a unique global platform from which consider the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing the world’s cities—and one that is more and more integrated into the school’s curriculum and training.

Meanwhile, Studio-X NYC Director Nicola Twilley has used the network as a launching pad for an innovative new Regional Foodshed Resilience practicum, to be taught concurrently at GSAPP and in Mumbai starting in September 2014.

Jeffrey Inaba’s C-Lab (Columbia Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting) has worked alongside us in the Studio-X NYC space for years, keeping us company as they examine HVAC in Volume magazine, launch LA Open Acres, and publish essays in 2014 Venice Biennale Elements of Architecture book. They’ll be continuing their activities from a new office on Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus.

In May, Janette Kim, whose Urban Landscape Lab worked out of Studio-X NYC and whose work formed the basis of some of Studio-X NYC’s most engaging exhibitions and programs, launched a new quarterly journal, ARPA Journal (Applied Research Practices in Architecture). Issue One, titled Test Sites, is online now.

Living Architecture Lab Director David Benjamin, who played a central role in setting Studio-X NYC up back in 2008, will be taking part in a new kind of off-campus experiment within the New Museum’s New Inc incubator space.

And Studio-X NYC will be closing its doors—but not without celebrating with a party to thank you all for making this crazy experiment such a success! Please save the date for our final summer party on June 26th at 6:30PM.

We’ll be going offline soon, but to stay in touch with the Studio-X Global Network and hear about its research programs and events, click here. To keep up-to-date with the school more generally, follow CCGSAPP. For those of you who follow us on Twitter andFacebook, we’ll be using those channels to talk about Studio-X Global Network news and activities going forward. And, of course, the Studio-X NYC archive of workshops, discussions, exhibits, conferences, and talks will remain online here.

With thanks and best wishes,

Nicola Twilley, Director, Studio-X NYC
Carlos-Solis-Keyser, Program Coordinator, Studio-X NYC

Please join us Tuesday, April 21 at 9AM for the Columbia University Epidemiology Symposium Conversations around Public Health, Architecture, and Cities, sponsored by GSAPP and the Mailman School of Public Health. See below for the full program.

Conversations around public health, architecture, and cities

This Thursday at Studio-X NYC, join us for Landscapes of Secrecy: Data and Reporting in the Drone Debate. In collaboration with Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone, this event will look to open a discussion on the gathering/reconstructing of data regarding U.S. drone strikes, placing in conversation three researchers to discuss their attempts to understand and represent the nature and extent of U.S. targeted killing operations, the relationship between secrecy and forms of surveillance and violence, and the production of “evidence” at the intersections of legal and physical environments. This will be the second in the Studio-X Global Network series on Security Regimes, which critically examines global spaces of exception. 

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Excited to be hosting Interpretations: Critical Shifts tomorrow, April 5th at 1PM. This is the fourth annual symposium hosted by the Critical, Curatorial, & Conceptual Practices in Architecture class of 2015, GSAPP. Please see a schedule and list of speakers here. If you can’t make it IRL, you will be able to stream online here.

Join us Wednesday, February 26 at 7PM for a conversation about the architecture and geography of women’s health. Lori Brown, author of Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals will discuss the intersections of politics, protest, and public space as they relate to access to care and the lives that are impacted by it. From her book:

Because protest has for decades been a part of the abortion debate, the way we understand and use public space is critical to rethinking access to reproductive healthcare. Citizen actors on both sides of the issue have been exerting political pressure. So much so that now anti-abortion groups have been successfully influencing state legislatures across the country creating ever more restrictive and unbalanced law. Although legal on paper, abortion is becoming more and more difficult to access for poor women of color. [Iris Marion] Young’s ideas of civic action and even disobedience are critical to a thriving democracy, but what happens when one set of actors are so successful in curtailing women’s legal rights to autonomy and control over their own body? What happens when the state intervenes too much? What needs to be done then?

OK, move over pigeons: it’s time talk about squirrels and the city!

Penn historian Etienne Benson has just published a new paper titled "The Urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel in the United States," and it is a fascinating story indeed.

For starters, it turns out squirrels haven’t simply stayed in place as we urbanized around them: instead, they were eradicated and then deliberately re-introduced. In a press release, Benson explains:

By the mid-19th century, squirrels had been eradicated from cities. In order to end up with squirrels in the middle of cities, you had to transform the urban landscape by planting trees and building parks and changing the way that people behave. People had to stop shooting squirrels and start feeding them.

Benson tracks down the first documented squirrel introduction, in Philadelphia’s Franklin Square in 1847, and tracks their growing popularity as part of the Olmstead-era urban parks movement. At the height of their popularity, in the 1880s and 1890s, squirrels were not only seen as ornaments, adding natural beauty to the city, but also as a way to civilize the urban poor and immigrants: feeding squirrels would help tame their “native” cruelty, went the enlightened thinking of the day.

The article is open access and well worth a read, and Benson’s other work also looks super interesting: he’s currently studying how non-humans create their own infrastructural systems to live in human-dominated landscapes (inspired by zip-lining squirrels visible from his back porch), and in the past has written about wireless wildlife tracking and created an interactive map of applications to import polar bear trophies to the United States between 1997 and 2008.

Meanwhile, do not worry, we are already plotting a squirrel walk for the spring!

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Somehow we missed the leaked design drawings from the Church of Scientology’s $100 million “Super Power Building” when The Village Voice obtained and published them in January 2012.

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The Gensler-designed building was dedicated last month, although it is not yet open. Nonetheless, The Guardian takes this opportunity to re-visit some of its more unique features, which include a super-powers suite, complete with a human gyroscope, spike-enhanced “pain station,” and an “oiliness table” (?), an indoor running track, and a smell and taste wall whose flavors range from magnolia to fig.

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We are stunned. This must have been the most amazing design brief ever! More drawings at The Village Voice. Insider and early visitor reports very welcome!

Via Jake Barton (Local Projects), who would have killed to be on the design team for this.

Smell-walkers! We have two important pieces of information for you.

(1) Victoria Henshaw, leader of last fall’s legendary Smellwalk NYC, has a new book out: Urban Smellscapes: Understanding and Designing City Smell Environments. From the blurb: “With case studies from factories, breweries, urban parks, and experimental smell environments in Manchester and Grasse, Urban Smellscapes identifies processes by which urban smell environments are managed and controlled, and gives designers and city managers tools to actively use smell in their work.”

(2) Juniper Ridge, a self-described “wild” fragrance company based in Brooklyn, is leading smell foraging walks in Williamsburg — and distilling the results into perfume. Studio-X NYC’s former co-director, Geoff Manaugh, joined one walk, which seems to have been equal parts hilarious hipster unintentional self-parody and genuinely fascinating environmental exploration. You can (and should) read about his adventures in full at Gizmodo, where you’ll also find links to sign up for future perfume walks. Meanwhile, keep your eyes open for a lost grove of coastal redwoods in Brooklyn!