Tola Architecture Logo

TOLA at Pratt

I met Maria Sieira over fifteen years ago. We were guest jurors at a Columbia University GSAPP review of student work and immediately struck up a friendship based on our shared interests in architecture and building our respective families in Brooklyn. We’ve had many long discussions about local school options. Now, Maria is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Pratt, and her latest invitation was only fitting: review her second-year graduate students’ proposals for a Middle School on a tightly bound site in downtown Manhattan.  

Maria urged her students to discover their own passion within the assigned program. Projects included schools devoted to agriculture, dining, science, and Parkour. I welcomed the opportunity to step back from the daily realities of professional practice life and immerse myself momentarily in the pure concepts inherent to all architecture: space, scale, light, structure, enclosure, material, and craft.

Fellow jurors from academia, professional practices, the arts, nonprofits, and construction sectors engaged in constructive critiques. Conversation topics included state-of-the-art 3d modeling techniques, broken crockery, and the age-old “turn it upside down” strategy. I found the work rich and thought-provoking. It’s clear that Maria is pushing her students to think critically and step beyond their comfort zones.

Many thanks to Maria, her students, and my fellow jurors.

By: Lisa Mann / May, 22 2018