Design Workshop

The Design Workshop at Parsons School of Design is an innovative studio that provides pro bono architectural and construction services to nonprofit organizations while giving graduate architecture, interior design and lighting design students the rare opportunity to both design and build a community facility. Since its establishment in 1996, Parsons Design Workshop has helped meet community-based organizations’ needs, ranging from green space to educational and recreational facilities for children. Past projects include a laundromat and information center in Mississippi for a community devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and Bronxscape, a rooftop garden for Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter, a young adult residence in the Bronx.

“The Design Workshop is commitment to the belief that the designed and built environment acts as the ground of and for social practice. This idea is, and has always been, a foundational tenet of architecture. Indeed, without meaning to diminish its plenitude, the history of architecture can be thought of as simply a way of talking about the various forms this idea has taken in time and material space. However, the production of this complex social choreography performed by the interaction of brute materiality and human subjects in space has both intentional and inadvertent aspects. It is intentional to the extent that we design with a social purpose in mind but is inadvertent to the extent that built form more often than not produces unforeseen social configurations that humble architecture (and the architect) and remind us of the limits of even salutary social engineering by design. What, then, is this relationship of the designed to the built that is so necessary but which seems so unstable? And, further, what might serve as a useful mode of research for probing the linkage between the intentions of an immaterial idea to the inadvertent consequences of its material form? Lodged within the curriculum of the graduate architecture program at Parsons, The Design Workshop shares with other kinds of design-build programs an intention to provide a glimpse of post-academic architectural and building practice along with a more sophisticated sense of construction, materiality and craft. However, a more fundamental motive was to initiate an academic opportunity to more closely scrutinize the transformation of the thing-designed to the thing-built and, in so doing, to perhaps gain a better understanding of the perception and practice of social life.”

—Paul Goldberger

Excerpt from “Design Workshop: 1998–2005″, Parsons The New School for Design

(Image Source: Design Workshop 2013)


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