Prima edizione





Argomento e tematiche affrontate

This book has been written for the 75’s anniversary of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The book flow as a story of the topics as the GSD sees them during the years (from its birth to now). In every content shines the imagination that guide all the GSD courses. In this book we can read about the past and the present with the principal aim to imaginate a better future. The immagination of a better future is the base for every student and professor in the GSD.

In this book we can see the constant oscillation that characterizes the design and architectural project: the negotiation between ideality and pragmatism, the approximation of the ideal to make it real and usefull.  Its always present the presence of the pragmatic realities and the imagined yet never realized ideal that lies at the heart of design. We can read how in the GSD the responsibility of new possibilities and potentials that may become reality one day is the principal aim that inspire every single moment in this institution; the sense of a future time is always anchored in the present. This book deal with not just architectural aspect but also political, human and social aspects that take part in a project. The aspirations of the famous architecture school are demonstrated through a series of ideas, projects, and practices –INSTIGATIONS – that reflect the mission for the GSD to reimagine and construct better futures.


Giudizio Complessivo: 6

Scheda compilata da: Paolo Gatti

Corso di Architettura e Composizione Architettonica 2 a.a.2012/2013




Mohsen Mostafavi, an architect and educator, is the Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design. He was formerly the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University where he was also the Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Professor in Architecture. Previously, he was the Chairman of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He studied architecture at the AA, and undertook research on counter-reformation urban history at the Universities of Essex and Cambridge. Previously, he was Director of the Master of Architecture I Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Dean Mostafavi has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, and the Frankfurt Academy of Fine Arts (Städelschule).

Mohsen Mostafavi



This presents a series of episodes in a rich history along with selected looks at current and future lines of teaching and research in GSD.

It is basically divided in six chapters: four deal with the proper instigations about various themes connected in particularly with landscape architecture and two of them regard only the GSD future and the future of teaching and research processes. Every chapter is divided in three parts. The first part is a series of references to various articles written on the theme discussed in the chapter, These articles space through the history of GSD, start from the birth of GSD and end with nowadays articles. The second part is characterized by a series of proper instigations about various themes linked with the principal theme of the chapter. Instigations are just few words on something interesting dealing with architecture, landscape, infrastructures and other various things; these words are principally written for students as a start of discussions and reasonings. A pair of lectures or interviews concludes every chapter. In this last part we can find some important thing and concept that regards the main theme of the chapter.



Capitolo 1: Design as Research

Experience, Metrics and Collaboration in Landscape Architecture Today – Michael van Valkenburgh interviewed by Anita Berrizbeita.

In this Interview Michael Van Vakenburgh talks about his work, his agenda and his collaboration. He is especially interested in the potential of landscape as an expressive medium. He bases his work on one phrase: “ I’m obsessed with what we make and why we make it in the way we do.” And he comes to a conclusion: “Everything has a form. In my case I consider the form of a landscape architecture and I can say that the form is not site-determinated but rather site-influenced”.


Capitolo 2: Design as Critique

Imagination needs a soil in history, tradition, or human institutions. It’s important to have a base from which I can start with a critique in order to touch all the possibilities of make the future better.

         A New City of Fragments – Anne Lacaton

To intervene in the city today we have to be in the city, on the ground, not just skimming over it. Look at things from the inside to perceive the detail and not to have just the macro view of the city. This kind of view is necessary in order to make the city better, starting from the inhabitant scale. We have to collect visuals in photo or video and to think on it critically to better understand the environment that surround us.


Capitolo 3: City and Environment as Process

I was really interested in a little article that explain a new process to think the city and the environment. It’s really close up with the previous considerations about city. In this article is studied a new way of thinking and engaged in fragmentary considerations about the city.

         Landscape Painting in the Digital – Emily Waugh

In this article is introduced a new course that was added at the GSD during 2011. This course teaches to students a new way of analysing the city with videos. This new method is a very interesting way of thinking the instruction in an faculty like architecture.


Capitolo 4: City and Environment as Form

Post-Disaster Resettlement (more than a question of shelter) – Michael Hooper

This article is focused on the problem of post disaster issue for the architecture. There is the necessity to come back to the principals problems of social institutions after a disaster, not just the problem about lack of houses. Michael Hooper offers a possible base point from which could be possible a new study and a new research to better understand the dynamics of resettlement.


Eight Theses on the Urbanization Question – Neil Brenner

In this lecture pro. Neil Brenner deals with the today lack of an appropriate theory to focus the new current form of urbanization. “Contemporary urban research stands at a crossroads. Scholars that want to decipher current forms of urbanization are forced to confront the limitations of inherited approaches to urban questions, and consequently, to face the difficult challenge of inventing new theories, concepts and methods.” In conclusion he makes a list of the eight points at the base of the agenda of the UTL/GSD laboratory.


The Surface is Alive – Gary Hilderbrand

Prof Gary hilderbrand speaks about the concept of surface in the city as a skin on the terrain. Describing the effort to reimagine the Boston City Hall Plaza he passes through a series of concepts really useful if you have to approach at a landscape project in the city. This example is particularly useful because deal with the problem of surface as a system in form and functions linked with the problem of memory.


Capitolo 5-6: About the future of GSD

There is no Architecture Without Writing – Michael Hays

“Architecture is a specific kind of imagination that organizes the world in space and time. Yet is writing that produces the object of architecture, writing makes the object of architecture thinkable as such.” In this participation Michael Hays speaks about the importance of writing. For him the way of writing is not the principal element. The principal thing on what he is more focused is the fact that only just with computers and drawing programs is impossible to have clear in mind your architecture. He talks about narratives that could describe the space that you create with series of images. He talks about diagrams that could help you to make details more properly planned. Last but not least he talks about sketches: the first way to build architecture.