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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.


Koreatown is an ethnic enclave located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, centered on West 32nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The unique intersection of k-town’s spatiality and temporality has given rise to its urban density and perpetual bustle. Our neighborhood portrait is set against backdrop of iconic anthem (“Gee” by Girls Generation) with round-the-clock time-lapse footage presented in parallel with the permanently upbeat k-pop rhythm. We hope to capture the vibrancy and more importantly, diversity of commercial activities located within the space of a single street that never sleeps; that has grown to become a landmark destination for Asian entertainment.

Grace Ng, Chu Li, Enzo Zhang

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