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Columbia College Today July 2003
 
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ALUMNI PROFILE

Examining New Ideas in Architecture

BY CLAIRE LUI ’00

Architecture and Design Book
306090: A Journal of Emergent Architecture + Design

Jonathan Solomon ’00 saw a void in the architectural press: Academic journals and consumer publications weren’t addressing the issues that he and other young architects were discussing. So with a group of fellow young architects, Solomon created a new journal, 306090: A Journal of Emergent Architecture + Design, to highlight the projects and ideas that were being ignored in the existing architectural press.

A third-generation architect, Solomon grew up thinking about design and its impact and speaking the language of architecture and design. “I’ve known pretty much since age 6 or so that architecture was something I wanted to do,” he says. “It’s like when you grow up in a household that speaks a second language. I’ve known forever that architecture is the language that I wanted to speak.” After receiving his degree in urban studies with a focus in architecture at Columbia, Solomon continued his studies at Princeton, earning a master’s in architecture.

During Solomon’s second year in his master’s program, he and classmate Jenny Ferng came up with the plan to start a journal that published student work. They wanted it to be more than a house organ for the architecture school, instead conceiving of something that could challenge and criticize the architectural establishment, including their own education. The first issue included the work of several young designers and a conversation with architectural critic Philip Nobel. After Ferng graduated, Solomon took 306090 to New York and incorporated it, bringing on new staff members, including architecture major Emily Abruzzo ’00. Partially funded with grants from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 306090 has a circulation of 2,000.

The first issue was launched with a simultaneous show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, named “eMeRGenT” as a nod to the journal’s subtitle. A number of subsequent issues also have had a concurrent “eMeRGenT” show, designed as a way for contributors and readers to meet and to see the objects in the journal. The events have given 306090 more exposure and brought new and established designers together.

Jonathan Solomon and Emily Abruzzo
Jonathan Solomon ‘00 (right) and Emily Abruzzo ‘00 hope to fill a void with 306090.
PHOTO: GERALD BODZIAC

Solomon, Abruzzo and the other editors strive to create a mix of the new and old, finding fresh ways to look at traditional topics. Architect Michael Sorkin wrote about the possibility of an Olympics in the Bronx, which was followed by the work of five students who had developed models and proposals to put the plan into action. Another article explored Nathaniel Kahn’s documentary, My Architect, about his struggle to understand his father, Louis Kahn. Abruzzo says the editors would like to see more student work, maybe publishing “the very, very good competition entries that get lost when they don’t win.” Solomon is interested in working with “young people who are practicing in offices that nurture and appreciate their work, and also people whose offices are suppressing their work but are doing interesting work on the weekend.”

The theme for the third issue was “Collectives and Manifestoes.” Solomon wants to open a dialogue for architects and designers and exhorts his colleagues to join in. He jokes that his Columbia years were a great preparation, as “the best students are the troublemakers” and the Columbia education “can instill a very strong belief in making waves.” It was this belief in challenging the status quo, combined with his four years of editorial experience at Spectator, that led to the forming of 306090.

Distributed nationally through the Princeton Architectural Press, 306090 is available from bookstores, online booksellers, and from its Web site.

Claire Lui ’00 is a freelance writer and research editor living in Queens. Her articles have appeared in Women’s Wear Daily and Martha Stewart Weddings.

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