4.154
Architecture Design Option Studio — Power Structures (Idenburg/Weaver)

Prerequisites: 
4.153
Enrollment: 
Mandatory lottery process
Required of: 
MArch

Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it.
- John D Rockefeller

Our civic institutions, such as foundations, libraries, and museums, were brought into place to 'educate the people' by giving them access to the knowledge embedded in their collections. Most of these organizations grew out of the transformation in the late 19th-century of private collections amassed by powerful royals, merchants and industrialists,  into public institutions. At times this shift happened through revolution, as was the case with the Louvre. Still, mostly these transformations happened over time through a realization of responsibility and maybe a sense of guilt felt by ruling classes. With the provision of access to their collections came elevated status: being a member of the philanthropic and civic-minded elite. Many of the cultured elites found their wealth through controlling the world's energy infrastructures, such as the Rockefellers, with Standard Oil or the Koch family and its Koch industries. Control of most industries' essential input, power, directly translates into power to its owners.

Today the mission of these institutions is in jeopardy, as the internet is the defacto portal to knowledge, including knowledge about the industries that brought the 'civic-minded elite' into power and wealth in the first place. Often, these sources are environmentally damaging or ethically questionable (as the Sackler Family, which made money of the opioid crisis through their company Purdue Pharma) and, as such, are diametrically opposed to the public mission they support. This phenomenon has put our public institutions in crisis. Both their purpose and the monies that support them are suspect.

This studio takes this crisis as its point of departure. It will ask the students to design a new type of public institute according to a newly defined mission. We seek a fundamental paradigm shift both in what these institutes strive to do and how they operate.

Projects in 4.154