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December 09, 2013

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Massey students compile “Atlas of Contemporary Controversies”

Architecture’s Global History is an atlas of events, buildings, places, and topics significant to the development of architecture over the past six hundred years. Initiated in September 2013, the site is an evolving database created by students in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University in a course taught by Jonathan Massey.

In September 2013, second-year B.Arch students in the School of Architecture course taught by Meredith Professor Jonathan Massey began to create an online atlas of events, buildings, places, and topics significant to the development of architecture over the past 600 years.  For the first stage of this effort, students developed an “Atlas of Contemporary Controversies”— events around the world that have provoked strong reactions and captured worldwide attention. By analyzing the role of architecture in these events, students formed hypotheses and posed questions about architecture’s role in politics and society. By projecting these hypotheses and questions back into history, the class identified topics for research and analysis.

The results were informative, innovative, and provocative—worthy of the “awards” designated by the students’ peers. Topics such as “Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gingrich,” “North Korea Test Nuclear Missles,” “Olympic Planners Bulldoze Cities,” and “Zurich Opens Sex Boxes,” and many others come to life through essays, videos, Prezis, and Zeegas the students made following their own topical and geographical interests.

“In the past,” says Massey, “I’d lecture extensively on historical material in chronological sequence; students would take exams, write papers, make boards. Through this new approach students worked in pairs on projects on assigned projects aimed at exploring the subject matter through student-initiated lines of inquiry, research, writing, and making.”  

All of the contemporary controversies are searchable by map, list, or dropdown menu at the site. You can also navigate the controversy reports via spreadsheet.