IDSR, Teaching

Barnard College, Introduction to Architectural Design and Visual Culture


The concept of the ‘social’ within architectural discourse during the 20th century was often reduced to the dichotomy between public and private life. The undergraduate design studio Introduction to Architectural Design and Visual Culture studies the dissolution of concrete distinctions between public and private space in an age of social media where the proliferation of images, public persona and private self(ies) suggest new forms of sociality.

The studio uses the bathroom as a ‘program type’ to study the interface between public and private life in the 21st century. The final project is a non-gendered multi-user bathroom and public commons proposal for Paley Park on 53rd Street.

Project 00 Tyranny of the Selfie

Challenge: Use your cell phone camera (or a digital camera) to take a photograph of yourself (yes a selfie) that explores your public and private identity.

Take your selfie in a bathroom. Use a bathroom in your residence or another bathroom that you have access to. The bathroom can be public or private but it should a ‘shared’ bathroom. The subject matter of the images is important, but the composition and techniques used when shooting the images are equally important. Using reflections from a mirror or window surface is fine, but consider what the role of the reflection is in your photo. If the camera shows up in the photo, consider the role of the camera in the web of public and private relationships established by your selfie. Each photo should demonstrate at least 2 of the following techniques:

Point of view(s)
Private: what you see
Public: what others see
Secret: what nobody sees

Upload your images to a computer. Use Adobe Photoshop to convert the images to gray scale. No color images. Size your images to fill a letter sized sheet of paper. One image per page. Portrait or Landscape format. Choose 3 of best images to print for presentation. Select a caption for each image. Use a direct quote from teach of he assigned readings as captions.

Project 01 Existing Conditions

Challenge: Draft a dimensionally accurate floor plan of an existing bathroom.

Measure the bathroom where your selfie was taken. Start by making a rough sketch of the bathroom floor plan. Take dimensions in the bathroom using a tape measure or straight edge. Record the dimensions on the floor plan. Using a T-square, drafting board, drafting triangles, lead holder, and architectural scale, draft an accurate floor plan of the bathroom on white tracing paper or 11 × 17 printing paper.

Draw the floor plan at the scale of 1/2'' = 1'-0'' Include fixtures, material thicknesses and door swings in your drawings.

Layout the plan lightly with 4H lead in your lead holder. Once the entire plan has been mapped out, darken the ‘CUT’ lines with 2B lead, and sharpen the detail lines with 2H or H lead, to finalize the drawing graphics.

Project 02 Public Place Private Space

Challenge: Create a private space in a public place.

Based on your observations, experiences and research during the first part of the semester, create a spatial and material design that locates a private space within a public place.


The site for this project is a small urban park on 53rd Street between 5th and Madison Avenues. Formerly a night club called the Stork Club, the open space has been converted to an intimate park with walls of climbing ivy, a grid of locust trees and a 20' high wall of water. The footprint of the park is approximately 4200 square feet. For this project we will assume that the site is a blank slate. All existing surfaces and structures will be removed for your proposal.


A program is what happens on or within a building site. The program for this project is to provide a public restroom facility (that provides some privacy) within the area of the public park footprint. As described above the existing site area is approximately 4200 sq ft. The foot print of the restroom facility should physically occupy less than 50% of the existing park (about 2100 sq ft.) but the impact of the installation can extend to the entire park and onto the street. There must be a physical and/or visual connection between the restroom and the new park. There must be an entry and exit sequence to the spaces. There must be a formal and conceptual relationship to the issues analyzed in your Bathroom Prototype Model and Diagrams. See the Process description on the next page.

Gender Inclusive Restroom

For this project the architectural use-typology of the public rest room should explore more than the body in search of a toilet. Our highly mediated culture continually pressures our sense of privacy, including celebrity culture, state surveillance, corporate data-mining, and good old fashioned voyeurism. Your design should be functional but it should also propose relevant spatial conditions that cause users to reflect on the social issues of privacy.


Build a site model of Paley Park based on the scaled plan drawing provided. Make a three dimensional translation of your Midterm Prototype model; build the translation in the site model. Don’t worry too much about the practical function of the Prototype Translation. Instead, Concern yourself with trying to re-create the spatial ideas and qualities of the initial model in the site model. The Prototype Translation will be the basis for the organization and design of your public sanitation facilities.