Ziwei Zhang '13

The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies - New York City, NY
Major: Critical Social Thought

The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting the study of architecture in New York City. The program's emphasis is on architecture as a mode of cultural production, as well as its intersections with other disciplines, and the influence of new technologies and new modes of practice on the design of urban environments.

Each student in the summer program was assigned a different design project. My project was the four apartment towers built in 1964 next to George Washington Bus Terminal. The project involved two phases - the first was research and diagram, and the second was to come up with a design to transform the site. At the end of each phase I present my work before a small jury of architects and critics. During the first four weeks I studied the current architectural condition by making drawings of plans and sections, etc. I also did research upon the historical context of how the site and the surrounding neighborhood had transformed. I identified the problems of the design through diagrams which will lead to design ideas. In the second phase I worked on creating a new design that can better suit the needs of the residents and the neighborhood. The most practical skills I developed from the program was how to create visually informative, clear and pleasant drawings and diagrams with programs such as AutoCAD, Rhino and Illustrator. In the design process I also learned to think like an architect and to gradually develop a sense of what kind of space would and would not work under the guidance of the program mentor.