Scott Marble (Editor) with Jordan Carver and Jason Roberts
Columbia GSAPP, December 2010
Paperback w/slipcase | 7-1/2 x 11 inches | 316 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1883584689 | $X.00
Abstract is the yearly publication of student work from Columbia University’s GSAPP. The catalog is produced through the office of Dean Mark Wigley. The archive of student work, containing documentation of projects selected by faculty at the conclusion of each semester, is utilized in the making of Abstract.
As mentioned in my review of the most recent Abstract from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), the annual publication of student work has taken a different form depending on the dean. Both Bernard Tschumi (dean from 1988 to 2003) and Amale Andrao (dean since 2014) use(d) consistent formats, with the former relatively slim and modest by today’s standards and the latter marked by a large spiral binding and clear organization. Between the two, during Mark Wigley’s tenure as dean, each Abstract was a graphic design thesis courtesy of designer Stefan Sagmeister and GSAPP’s Scott Marble. From the spiral-bound, slipcase 04/05 to the magnetic 03/14, each Abstract was a unique design statement that explored ways of organizing the many student projects, the events taking place at the school, and the people converging at Avery Hall on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus. Abstract 09/10, the only issue I have from the Wigley years, actually uses GSAPP’s home, Avery Hall, for its organization; the contents start off site, with the Studio-X labs and nearby buildings like Buell Hall, and then they work their way down Avery Hall, floor by floor. Instead of the contents organized by type or curriculum, they are presented based on their geography in the school’s home. It hardly makes for a replacement to visiting the chaotic (“hyperactive” to Marble) scene of the studios inside Avery, but in hindsight the book certainly captures the architectural trends at the end of the previous decade (continuous surfaces, parametric design, landscape urbanism, etc.).
Sagmeister’s design of 09/10 makes its boldest statement through its cover, where black lines radiate from a circle across a reflective gold background. Both the gold and lines wrap the whole outside of the book, extending across the edges of the pages to create a shiny object. No wonder it’s in a transparent slipcase: all the better for holding the covers and pages tight and displaying it as a 3D object. I found the design a bit jarring at first, but it was appealing enough I walked out of a used bookstore with it many years ago. It nevertheless seems like something the designer should be proud of, but for some reason it’s nowhere to be found on Sagmeister & Walsh’s website. Every other Abstract that the firm designed from 2004 to 2014 is there, but not this one. It’s also a hard issue to find, unavailable on Amazon or elsewhere online. All the more reason for me to cherish this book: one year of GSAPP activities bundled into a shiny object.
Scott Marble is a founding partner of Marble Fairbanks Architects … Scott is also a life-long educator and was a faculty member at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation for 25 years before being appointed Professor and William H. Harrison Chair of the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech in 2015.