Public Works for a Green New Deal

“Public Works for a Green New Deal” assembled a cohort of nine courses from across programs at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation to consider the social, technical, and political contours of the ambitious—but still largely undefined—proposal known as the Green New Deal (GND). Supported by the Buell Center, “Public Works” was one of several initiatives within the POWER project dedicated to providing a forum for engaged, critical discussion on the role of the built environment in the GND and related proposals. Toward this end, the Center has continued to gather knowledge, materials, and perspectives that center on three related areas: linking policy with politics; working across scales; and thinking relationally and systemically.

Courses for “Public Works” were adapted to address the GND proposal directly, with all design studio sites being U.S.-based and all briefs responding directly to the text of the Green New Deal resolution. The courses also responded, in various ways, to the call for imagination in Kate Aronoff’s article, “With a Green New Deal, Here’s What the World Could Look Like for the Next Generation” (originally written for the Intercept and since republished on the POWER website). All participating students and faculty attended the "Designing a Green New Deal" event at the University of Pennsylvania on September 13th, 2019, for which the Buell Center was a co-sponsor, and a follow-up event, "Public Works for a Green New Deal," at GSAPP on September 27th.


GSAPP Faculty Responses

Listen to Buell Center Director and Professor Reinhold Martin and GSAPP Faculty including David Benjamin, Phu Hoang, Andrés Jaque, Kaja Kühl, Ariella Maron, Kate Orff, Thaddeus Pawlowski, Bryony Roberts, Marc Tsurumaki, and Douglas Woodward speak about their involvement in the Fall 2019 curricular initative.

Professor Reinhold Martin on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Associate Professor David Benjamin on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Faculty Phu Hoang on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Associate Professor Andrés Jaque on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Faculty Bryony Roberts on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Mark Tsurumaki on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Kaja Kühl on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Professor Kate Orff and Faculty Thaddeus Pawlowski on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Adjunct Professor Douglas Woodward on Public Works for a Green New Deal

Faculty Ariella Maron on Public Works for a Green New Deal


Student Presentations

On November 22, 2019, the nine “Public Works” courses gathered for a supercrit in Wood Auditorium. Students and faculty were joined by guest critics Kate Aronoff, Francisco J. Casablanca, Billy Fleming, and Gabriel Hernández Solano.


Participating Studios and Courses

Climate Design Corps: Reinventing Architecture, Labor, and Environment
David Benjamin

This studio is structured as a mini-thesis project; each student designs their own site, program, position, and 11-year impact in terms of both carbon emissions and equality. They explore new modes of practicing architecture. In addition to reimagining the approach to the climate crisis, this studio reimagines the discipline.


Being-With: Coexistence at a Planetary Scale
Phu Hoang

Rethinking public works as multi-species at both architectural/infrastructural and planetary scales, the studio proposes ecological imaginaries in response to the Green New Deal. Speculating on a carbon-free climate future in coastal Louisiana requires students to design at both habitat and planetary scales while avoiding thinking in binary terms of environmental relationships—human vs. animal, society vs. nature, organism vs. environment, even wild vs. domestic.


Transscalar Towers, The Ultra Clear-Glass Plan
Andrés Jaque

This studio interrogates the current obsession for ultra-clear glass (also known as lowiron glass) in contemporary high-end apartment and office buildings in globalizing urban settings, and the way its use is rhetorically presented as a contribution to the process of turning cities into environmentally sensitive floor-to-ceiling architectural schemes.


Structures of Care
Bryony Roberts

This studio addresses the social justice dimensions of the Green New Deal proposal, focusing on the connection between social and environmental sustainability.


Imaginative Realism: Cli-Fi, the Sublime, and the Public Imaginary
Marc Tsurumaki

This studio examines if and how the historical notion of the sublime might provide a lens through which to view our current crisis, examining the ways climate change is imagined, envisioned, and represented in order to understand how alternate narratives might be formulated and advanced.


The Climate Crisis—Imagining a Green New Deal in the Hudson Valley
Kaja Kühl

Working in the Hudson Valley, the studio operates at the regional scale and asks students to enter the discourse of urbanization beyond cities to engage unevenly dispersed socio-spatial ecosystems at multiple scales. Specifically, it explores the region’s rural/urban socio-spatial ecosystems as the site for intervention to address the global climate crisis.


Resilient Urban Design and Urban Planning Practicum: A Green New Deal for Appalachia
Kate Orff and Thaddeus Pawlowski

This course explores urban design and planning practice through the lens of resilience. It focuses on emerging approaches and strategies to climate adaptation in the built environment, and integrating ecological imperatives and social justice into next century forms of infrastructure.


Planning and the Green New Deal: A Practicum
Ariella Maron and Douglas Woodward

This course engages the proposed Green New Deal (H. Res. 109, the “GND”) from an urban planning perspective, investigating its political bases, technical feasibility, implementation strategy, and planning and land use impacts. The course approach concentrates on the socio-technical aspects of the GND as opposed to strictly technical responses to climate change, to mirror the focus of the proposed legislation itself.


For more information on the participating faculty members and courses, visit the GSAPP website.