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“We are at a critical juncture, a time when we need to examine the models that have long been in use,” explains exhibition curator Cynthia Davidson. She is also editor of the independent architecture journal Log, which devoted its 50th issue to the many modes of architectural models from structural to material, aesthetic, and social. “As Thomas Demand has said, without models there would be chaos, but our current world models have led to the climate crisis, extreme poverty, and homelessness,” Davidson said. “We need to rewrite those models, especially now as architecture is questioning its methods and intentions.”Model Behavior explores how architectural models elicit and portray social behaviors. It includes six exhibits created especially for the street-level colonnade windows of The Cooper Union as well as animated digital models, movies, photographs, renderings, and augmented reality. The items on display span a wide range of disciplines, from toys and scientific models to conventional physical architectural models. A couple examples include a resin World Trade Center from Constantin and Laurene Leon Boym’s Buildings of Disaster series and a laser-cut plexiglass and paper model for Frederic Church’s Olana. Each window is positioned in a three-foot-deep niche and decorated with dioramas and other items that can be seen from the sidewalk.
This installation site is another examination of how models prompt social behavior, as visitors may or may not choose to further explore the exhibition by entering the Foundation Building.
“Model making is central to all architectural education and practice, but our role as architects and educators is to consider the societal impact of our design and that starts with this foundational and iterative piece of the design process,” says Hayley Eber, acting dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.
Models as Ethical Agents: October 10, 6:30pm, with art historian Annabel J. Wharton
The Broken World Model of Design: November 8, 6:30pm, with architect Kiel Moe
Exhibition design by New Affiliates. Generous support for Model Behavior has been provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown. Foundation Building Colonnade
The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10003