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Ad Infinitum - A master plan of his own

image: Campus NewsMichael Sorkin likes to think big. As head of the architecture firm Michael Sorkin Studio and director of the graduate program in urban design at the City College of New York, he has made a name for himself as an idealist who would rather startle with innovative designs than succumb to convention.

That's why Sorkin, AB'69, was asked by the University to serve as a consultant on its $500 million master plan, to set aside for a moment constraints such as zoning laws, schedule limitations, local bureaucracy, financial resources, and other practical considerations and show the chief planners what could be done in a world without limits. However, these constraints do exist, and after initial discussions, the planners moved on with the project without Sorkin.

But once Sorkin had the idea of a completely reinvented campus in his head, he couldn't get rid of it, and spent the next three years -in what he refers to as a "quixotic, self-financed, kamikaze process"-creating a 50-year plan for the renovation of the campus. His design, which was on display under the name "Other Plans" during the month of October at the Reynolds Club, is a roller coaster of bulbous structures and curvy sidewalks and includes a plan to turn the Midway Plaisance into a canal as its original designers intended a century ago.

Sorkin admits that it is unrealistic to think the U of C will take his plan into account at this late stage, but he hopes the campus community will recognize what he believes to be a growing disparity between "the quality of thought and the quality of space" at the University. Although he has not yet settled upon a publisher, Sorkin intends to publish a full study of his master plan in 2001. -C.S.

 


  DECEMBER 2000

  > > Volume 93, Number 2


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