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Reading New York Urbanisms - Summer 2016

Reading New York Urbanisms is a required class in the first semester of the Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design (MSAUD) program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. The goal of the class is to introduce students to New York City as a laboratory of historical experiments in both designing and interpreting the urban environment, to provide future urban designers with the observational and representational tools to “read” the city and the multiple forces that influence its physical form and social experience. Working in groups, students created short videos documenting the sense of place in sites that ranged from infrastructural systems like Grand Central Terminal and the Gowanus Canal to ethnic enclaves like Chinatown and Little Italy. From Roosevelt Island to Red Hook, these video portraits reveal underlying urban conditions and illuminate cultural, demographic, architectural, and environmental readings of the city.


Grand Central Terminal, not only the biggest and busiest train station in NYC but the second most visited place in the city, is supported by the daily work of around 300 people. This video shows the place perceived as a community of workers, as described by Daniel Brucker, Chief of GCT Tours, as well as by the voices of some workers themselves. Finally, this project exposes something not so obvious or noticed for most of the people, which is the fact that this complex and important infrastructure for the entire city relays on the work of every single person in this building.

Isabel Carrasco
Jiaqi Sun
Ping Yin

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