New York City has always been a place where people who share the same interests, desires, passions, talents, and excentricities can find one another. From kiki balls, beatniks, punks, hipsters, to Nuyoricans and little monsters, everyone has a squad in New York. These subcultures and scenes often provide a necessary community for marginalized groups who may not otherwise feel welcomed in mainstream society. Scenes can be safe spaces, but they can also be places of exclusion and privilege. In a moment of deep political polarization, we might conceptualize subcultures as sites of isolation, resistance, and/or networks of access.
The BFA Studio 6 Capstone project is steeped in scenes and subcultures. Our students were asked to explore how interiors allow these groups to initiate, grow, thrive, and sometimes die. Students selected a subcultural group for which to design a space and began to develop their program with analyses of the social and spatial infrastructure that supports the group. This analysis was not just limited to traditional physical space: increasingly, communities find their “people” online and exist in virtual worlds. Students were asked to examine the role design plays in this present condition. These explorations were supplemented with rigorous academic research, delving into key historical precedents, methodological approaches, and vocabularies to enrich understanding of their chosen subculture.
This capstone studio explores notions of place and identity through a semester-long design project. In conjunction with the Research & Writing Seminar (PUID 4111), this course examines the organizational forces present at 300 Ashland Place, a mixed-use residential tower recently redesigned by Ten Arquitectos. Atlantic Terminal, at the intersection of Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, is a complicated site that both reflects the nature of gentrification in New York City at large and also is brimming with unique cultural, spiritual, and educational infrastructure representing the diversity of city life. Students were asked to research existing institutions in order to generate their own organizations as drivers for their project’s programmatic conditions.
Each student developed a space for a subcultural group they researched in the prior semester that is supported by an accompanying retail program. The semester begins with documentation and analysis of a given site; the aim is to gain insight into the changing nature of these intersecting neighborhoods and to understand the kinds of public-private partnerships that support, drive, or deny cultural programming in the area.