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On October 23, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture opened its “Archive and Artifact: The Virtual and the Physical” exhibition. The showcase features 35 models from undergraduate thesis projects completed between 1969 and 2018 as well as 500 thesis projects available for viewing through the school’s new Digital Access Project. MMD Senior Architect Don Keppler’s work is included as part of the exhibit.
Coinciding with the opening, a reception was held to celebrate the work of graduates over the past 50 years. The reception also recognized the progress of the school’s ongoing project to digitize all of its analog works for availability online.
“As a school dedicated to the freedom of ideas, the exhibition was a milestone that acknowledges all the great work produced since the 60s,” Don said. “In a way, it is sort of like a think tank.”
Architecture Professor and Dean Nader Tehrani praised the architecture department’s work and efforts while thanking those whose works were selected.
As one of New York City’s most prominent architecture schools, Cooper Union provides students an expanse of creative liberties, encouraging them to experiment and take risks. The work presented at the showcase exemplifies the innovative ideas students have produced at the end of the school’s five-year program as a result of this practice.
Don’s thesis, titled “The Redemption Machine”, is a wheeled design created to capture themes from the biblical passage “Cain and Abel”. The project could also be taken apart to serve multiple uses including a shelter and a loom for washing clothes.
“We were allowed to create anything we wanted as long as it was related to Cain and Abel,” Don said. “It was interesting to work on because the broadness of the prompt allowed each student to interpret the same idea very differently.”
Along with Don’s work, the showcase features models from notable graduates including Daniel Libeskind, Stan Allen, and Peggy Deamer. The exhibit will also feature schoolwork from Elizabeth Diller, who was just named the world’s most influential architect by Time magazine.
“Cooper Union is a very special place,” Don said. “Its mission to let you explore ideas allows you to form a new and socially-responsible direction in architecture.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public until December 1.