RPI Architecture Student Designs Showcased at Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Pop-up exhibition opens March 9

February 27, 2024

Student rendering of concept for Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
The student projects include three-dimensional models and digital illustrations.

A series of 10 architectural projects by students in RPI’s School of Architecture is being showcased in a pop-up exhibition and book titled Imaginary Wilds: Architectural Interventions for the Thomas Cole National Historic SiteThe exhibition will open at the site on March 9 and run through April 7, 2024. The book is published by ORO Editions.

The exhibition and book present a series of student-designed architectural projects completed throughout the fall 2022 semester that imagine a new gallery building sited within the landscape of Thomas Cole’s historic home and studio in Catskill, New York. The student projects include three-dimensional models and digital illustrations. The exhibition will be presented in the reconstruction of a building that Cole designed, his 1846 New Studio, which was rebuilt on its original foundation in 2015.

The students featured in the exhibition are Alan Aguilera, Stephanie Coraisaca, Kyra Gregorie, Sarah Ishida, Jillian Lin, Katarina Napoli, Helly Rana, Alan Rosas, Scott Sigmund, and Javier Torres.

The museum includes the historic home and studio buildings of the artist and early environmentalist Thomas Cole (1801-1848), who founded the influential art movement known today as the Hudson River School of American Landscape painting. Cole’s art and writings explore humans’ relationship with landscape. He was also an architect and designed several buildings, including the 1846 New Studio and the Ohio State Capital. The idea of a new building for the cultural institution offered a framework for the students to consider the complexities of landscapes and nature as both real and ideal in the architectural design process.

“The aspiration of Thomas Cole’s art was ultimately to convey an idea about nature, and humans’ relationship to it; a pursuit at the core of architectural practice,” says Adam Dayem, exhibition curator and assistant professor in the School of Architecture. “What better place to explore the relationship between the built and natural world than the historic home of Thomas Cole, who identified as an architect and whose enduring legacy of American landscape painting is recognized the world over.”

The exhibition is curated and the book is edited by Dayem, who is a registered architect in New York State. He is the founder and principal of Actual Office Architecture, a design practice that has received numerous awards for both theoretical and built architecture. 

The book features new texts and original essays by architects and art historians including Evan Douglis, Dean, Rensselaer School of Architecture; Elizabeth B. Jacks, Executive Director, Thomas Cole National Historic Site; Adam Dayem, Assistant Professor, Rensselaer School of Architecture; David Salomon, Associate Professor, Ithaca College; Cathryn Dwyre-Perry, Adjunct Associate Professor, Pratt Institute; and William L. Coleman, Curator, Brandywine Museum of Art. 

Admission to the exhibition will be included with all weekend guided tour tickets from March 9 through April 7. Tickets are available via thomascole.org/imaginarywilds. The project is accompanied by student presentations and a book reception hosted at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site on Sunday, March 24, as part of the museum’s “Sunday Salons” speaker series. Participants will see what it’s like to attend architecture school and hear student presentations and expert critique from professors and other project participants. The ticketed presentations take place in the New Studio at 2 and 4 p.m. with a public book reception at 3 pm.. Tickets are available at thomascole.org/events.



Written By Tracey Leibach
Press Contact Tracey Leibach
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