As the spring semester comes to a close, architecture students from several schools across the country, including Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) can add a completed built work to their list of academic accomplishments.

In New York, 20 graduate students from Columbia’s GSAPP have created Avery SPOT, a 600-pound inflatable canopy, anchored by four steel beams in Avery Plaza on the university’s main campus. Designed and constructed in the seminar “The Outside Project,” led by faculty Laurie Hawkinson and Galia Solomonoff, the temporary installation was erected in April and used during the GSAPP commencement earlier in May. The project was supported by Dean Amale Andraos, who recently announced she would be stepping down as Dean later this year.

Even through the semester included an unpredictable mix of pandemic variables—with both in-person and remote learning—, “making decisions on the fly,” says Hawkinson, “was not unusual for an architecture project.”

Fabricated by Areacubica in Spain and assembled on site, the canopy is comprised of PVC coated nylon, steel anchor beams, and is embedded with LED lights. Below the amorphously shaped canopy, cedar benches are built into a wood platform, which is organized into color-coded social distancing circles to facilitate Covid-safe seating for formal lectures and special programming including movie nights and guided meditations. The canopy uses a student-designed rain chain to divert water and prevent additional weight from rain build up.

“This seminar allowed our group to experience and learn from the Critical Path Method (CPM) or Shop Drawings reviews, which are often talked about yet rarely understood,” Solomonoff told RECORD. “The shared experience of building together felt joyous and was the best way to come out of Covid.”

Avery SPOT will be on view in New York through the end of August.