Parallel Cities 1 explored the process of craft techniques combining digital and analogue media with film and physical models to uncover relationships between bodies, networks, and spaces in New York City.

The workshop brought together 8 graduate and undergraduate students from Parsons’ Temporary Environments course and  8 second year students from the University of Westminster’s BA (Hons) Interior Architecture Course. The students received training in Rhino and Grasshopper, in addition to digital fabrication processes focused on networked workflows.  Individually, they developed their own site study of a portion of Long Island City, while contributing to the overall workshop goals of the design and fabrication of a larger group installation.
The Workshop launched with an introduction from Parsons’ Dean Brian McGrath, and included a lecture by Alessandro Ayuso. Students utilized the fourth floor laser lab at 25E 13th Street, in addition to the 3rd floor studio space.
The Parallel Cities workshops are part of an evolving body of work making parallels between two global cities, London and New York.  How do the local, everyday scenes of these cities speak to larger trends affecting the future of cities? How can designers find opportunity amidst a narrative that seems on its face to dictate the “zombie urbanism” of gentrification and the flow of global capital?
The workshops look to design strategies at the intersection of urban design and interior architecture, two concentrations that privilege as-found conditions, the perspective and perception of inhabitants, and the social scene as important aspects of conceiving designs.  Not just exercises in forensics, this approach takes the discoveries of the workings of urban scenes as the starting point for speculative acts of design.  Participants think on their feet to make on-site studies that form the basis of moving images and design strategies that materialize in large scale physical models.

Parsons (with a campus located near Union Square in Manhattan) and University of Westminster (located on Marylebone Rd in the heart of London) are uniquely situated to extend studio-based exploration into their respective cities.