CUNY Spitzer School of Architecture opens reading room named after late architect Michael Sorkin

Legacy Project

CUNY Spitzer School of Architecture opens reading room named after late architect Michael Sorkin

Michael Sorkin (Courtesy the LafargeHolcim Foundation)

The City College of New York’s Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture has honored the late architect, author, and urbanist Michael Sorkin with a new reading room that bears his name. Sorkin passed away in March 2020 after contracting COVID-19. He was 71.

In addition to being a celebrated architect and critic, Sorkin was a distinguished faculty member at CUNY where he served as director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design, which he designed the curriculum for.

“Michael Sorkin was a creatively provocative and animating force in architecture and at CCNY’s Spitzer School. A reading room to carry forth the spirit of intellectual excitement that he embodied is an absolutely appropriate tribute to his legacy at our college,” said CCNY President Vincent Boudreau in a press statement.

The school has described the reading room as a “light filled” space, furnished with long tables and bookshelves designed by Sorkin. The pages stacked on the shelves are from Sorkin’s personal collection and are fittingly arranged using the late architect’s organization system, with topics related to urbanism and architecture.

Elisabetta Terragni, a colleague of Sorkin at the school, designed the reading room, which Sorkin’s wife, the philosopher and author Joan Copjec, described as being “beautiful and calm.”

“The reading room will be used by researchers interested in Michael Sorkin’s criticism, pedagogy, and design practice,” Copjec added.

In other bookish news, the Spitzer School of Architecture has also announced a large donation of books and papers from Marshall Berman, a colleague of Sorkin’s in the Urban Design program and a professor of Political Science who studied and wrote on topics related to modernism and postmodernism theory. The trove of materials will join the CCNY Architecture library collection, which is housed within the Spitzer School of Architecture building.

“Michael would be delighted to know that the archive of his colleague and ‘comrade’ Marshall Berman was installed near his library. Professor Berman was an essential component of the Graduate Program in Urban Design, the first chosen by Michael when he drew up his ‘wishlist’ for the slate of his faculty,” Copjec added.

In June, the Spitzer School of Architecture announced the appointment of Marta Gutman as its new dean. Gutman, a professor of architecture and urban history at CUNY, served as interim dean at the New York City school following the resignation of former dean Lesley Lokko.

To celebrate the opening of the new Sorkin Reading Room, CUNY will host an event on December 1 at 6:00 p.m. in the Spitzer School Atrium with remarks from Gutman, Boudreau, and a number of faculty members and staff. Copjec will also be in attendance.