Aims + Scope: Studio I introduced students to object-oriented approaches to preservation by using the building as an inroad to investigation. In Studio II, students will develop context-oriented approaches that frame and inform preservation research and proposals within a broader social environment and physical setting – or community. In doing so, Studio II takes a very broad view of heritage, recognizing the ways in which multiple publics ascribe values and narratives to places and how the intangible and tangible dimensions of those stories and the people they represent are encountered spatially.
Position: Studio II challenges the traditional positionality of the preservation enterprise, which tends to prioritize architectural and aesthetic values, original fabric and material integrity, and designation as a primary means of policy intervention. It emphasizes the role of professional preservationists as facilitators of community-engaged processes that utilize evidence-based, social-spatial explorations to understand, communicate, and reimagine the past in ways that empower contemporary publics, especially those who have been marginalized.
Methods: Students are encouraged to apply and experiment with a range of traditional and nontraditional preservation methods to interrogate place-based histories and publics, characterize and visualize change over time, identify and analyze key issues, and explore creative practices of intervention. Central to the Studio II working method is co-learning. Negotiating varying viewpoints and values are critical to the preservation enterprise. Studio II thus involves a significant amount of student-led collaborative work. Co-learning is also extended through community-engaged research, allowing student to learn and practice listening and trust-building with diverse publics. The semester’s findings culminate in a collective and synthetic Studio Report.
Inquiry: Studio II does not pose a particular problem for students to solve. Rather, it frames an inquiry and a context for open-ended exploration. The Spring 2022 Studio II will focus on the Harlem community. Students will apply a preservation lens to interrogate histories of environmental injustice and to examine how climate vulnerability is socially constructed over time through policies, practices, and projects that shape landscapes and the built environment, and privilege/disprivilege the publics that inhabit them. Through their proposals, students will imagine and posit preservation’s role in activating these histories to forge more just and equitable climate action.
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