Cornell Professor named NYC Parks Historian-in-Residence

(via Cornell Chronicle)

Cornell University Professor Named NYC Parks Historian-in-Residence

Faculty member Thomas J. Campanella, MLA ’91, is the new historian-in-residence at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. An associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning, he was appointed by Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver.

In this volunteer capacity, Campanella will conduct independent research on the development of the city’s parks and will assist Jonathan Kuhn, the parks department’s director of art and antiquities, with strategic research projects related to parklands history.

A team of graduate and undergraduate students will assist Campanella with a project to research, write and update brief narratives on the design history and cultural significance of several hundred parks, playgrounds and natural areas throughout the city. The narratives will be used for on-site historical markers and the parks department website, and will be compiled in an official publication co-edited by Kuhn and Campanella, “A Field Guide to the Parklands of New York City.”

Campanella is a Brooklyn native who divides his time between Ithaca and Brooklyn’s Marine Park neighborhood, where he grew up. His writings for popular and scholarly publications include essays in The Wall Street Journal on the 1964 World’s Fair Unisphere and how the London plane became Gotham’s iconic tree, and an article on Marine Park’s design history for the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. He is the author of three books including “Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm” (2003) and has received Guggenheim, Fulbright and Rome Prize fellowships.

He is working on a book about the evolution of his native borough, “Brooklyn: A Secret History,” as well as a study of influential landscape architects Gilmore D. Clarke, Class of 1913, and Michael Rapuano ’27, whose firm, founded in 1934, designed many of New York’s parks and parkways in association with master builder Robert Moses. Clarke (1892-1982) was a Cornell professor of architecture from 1935 to 1950, and dean of the College of Architecture from 1939 to 1950.

(via Cornell Chronicle)

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Cornell University Celebrates its Annual Dragon Day

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Cornell Dragon

(via Architect Magazine)

Each spring, Cornell University’s freshman architecture and engineering students duke it out on the Ithaca, N.Y., campus—with makeshift constructions that liken mythical creatures crafted out of readily available materials provided by their departments. This tradition, which goes back more than 100 years, is “Dragon Day.”

Each year’s theme is unique and is determined by Cornell’s architecture students. “The first thing we do as a group is to choose a theme for the dragon,” says freshman student Kayra Cengiz, who is in charge of advertising for the event. “This year we chose ‘rebirth.’ Since Dragon Day is part of a long tradition, we thought rebirth would be a nice variation on last year’s theme, which was “doomsday.”

Cornell Dragon

Appearance is a key way students today want to differentiate themselves from previous generations. According to freshman Silvia Galdamex, the co-president of Dragon Day, “This year’s dragon has many moving parts and will look different from what people have come to expect. We are avoiding black—architects’ favorite color—and the color will appear to change when you see the light reflecting off the dragon at different angles.” Photos from the event show this year’s construction featuring several broken, geometric shapes that follow in a continuous form, swathed in an iridescent material that reflects jewel tones when light hits it.

(Read the full story at Architect Magazine)