The Catholic University of America

March 8, 2013

Master’s Students Present Architecture Project

  The students' model of their project, which showcases an historic rail line in Jersey City, N.J.

The students' model of their project, which showcases an historic rail line in Jersey City, N.J.

Earlier this semester, students from Catholic University’s Urban Practice Concentration, a specialization offered within the Master of Architecture program, traveled to New York City’s Center for Architecture to showcase the products of their completed Embankment Project.

The project focused on the Harsimus Stem Embankment, a set of two-story-high stone structures in Jersey City, N.J, that once carried railway tracks, known to locals as “The Embankment.” Students were required to examine and present proposals for the future use of this historic elevated rail line, drawing inspiration from similar structural adaptations throughout the United States and Europe.

One of the key inspirational models was New York City’s High Line, which has recently been transformed into an elevated public park, complete with walkways, seating areas, and garden installations.

Visitors examine the students' project boards.  

The students worked both in teams and as individuals to learn about the real-world process of urban architectural design. “We had to work together to make sure the overall design was speaking the same language,” said graduate student Alexandra Sacci. “It was a fun environment because it was not competitive, but collaborative.”

According to Associate Professor Eric Jenkins, one of three instructors in the design studio, the students benefited from the teambuilding experience. Graduate student Michael Ferraro says, “The highlight of the experience was seeing 17 individuals, each of whom has their own unique design identity, come together to develop a mile-long swatch [of property].”

The students gave two presentations in January to a crowd of about 150 to 200 visitors who attended the event throughout the course of the day. The visitors were impressed with the overall “energy, imagination, thoroughness, collaboration, professionalism and geniality” of the students, said Jenkins.

Under the instruction of Jenkins, Clinical Associate Professor Mark McInturff, and Visiting Critic Elizabeth Emerson, the students learn to adapt classic models and concepts and apply them to their construction of modern spaces. The Urban Practice Concentration aims to guide students to appreciate architecture on all scales, to view it in a variety of contexts, and to respect the influence it has in people’s lives. 

“Architecture is more than just designing the physical environment in which we live,” said Ferraro. “It’s about getting to discover the way materials are used to influence emotion, and how to design spaces people don’t want to leave.”



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