Monday, 24 August 2009

David Gersten at Cooper Union.

David was himself a graduate in architecture at Cooper Union and he now lectures at the school. It was interesting to discuss design education within the building that David himself has had such a close and long history with, having spent over half his life there. David considered the building itself as a space that was engineered for the right creative environment and as a place for the three creative disciplines of: Engineering, Architecture and Art to collide within. David began his talk with us, with his theory of Cooper Union as the 'eight story house'. He took us on a tour of the school which began in the foundations of the building where there was a great lecture space, where Abraham Lincoln had spoken and many other notable orators. David proposed that this gave the school a foundation in free speech, that filters up the school. He describes how all creative energies flow upwards through the space and the negative impact of walking down into a dark dingy basement is never felt, as it maybe in other institutions. We then walked up to the second floor where knowledge and context were realised with a library that looked outwards through vast glass windows. This was designed to allow an infinite plane of cultural memory and a preservation of history. Then at the heart of the building was a shared working environment where a gallery forces the intrigued into the belly of the school. These analogies between architectural design and their application within education was very interesting and was consistent with David's predominant influence and point of reference: Literature. In this instance the school itself was an instrument capable of telling a story.
We also discussed the implications of the small numbers of students at Cooper Union and the fact that they were all there with a full scholarship. He described his development and use of the 'listening crit' and showed us a project he had been working on extensively to be published by Didot.
David is an extremely intelligent man who's fervour and philosophies are reflected within the course he teaches and upon the space he lectures in.
I look forward to relaying more of what I learnt from David to you in the future.

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