Infinitum - A master plan of his own
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.
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.