Model Behavior | Cooper Union

Reiser + Umemoto RUR - "Crown® Subway Entrance and Kiosk, Salzburg Mirabellplatz S-Link Competition, 2021. Hand-painted 3D-printed PLA plastic. This retrospective model shows how the "crown" accommodates four typical station programs: public toilets, a newsstand, a post box, and an outdoor cafe.


During NYC’s annual Archtober celebration of all things architecture related, The Cooper Union staged a special exhibition focusing on the behavioral impact contemporary models have on society. Model Behavior was presented by the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and held in the ground floor gallery space. The show was comprised of 55 works ranging from 2D images to 3D design, scientific and commercial models. The majority of the pieces however were architecture related.

The exhibition aimed to explore what, if any believability and skeptical issues might have crossed over from the more controversial categories of climate, pandemic and political models. There were some areas of the show that more successfully targeted this question than others. Olafur Eliasson’s 3D-printed scans of Ice chunks from an Icelandic beach were paired with Weather Channel clips of computer storm models.

Imperfection by BairBalliet is a beautifully crafted game model representing a typical 16-lot block in Los Angeles. Players battle to identify how best to transform the neighborhood using the shifting local building codes against the clock. This sort of real estate game has been playing out for real in cities across the US.

Model Behavior doesn’t present a polarized take on the effects of the models presented. Instead the work is more of a survey of representational artifacts in a grey area beyond something created for a client or institution.

Photos and Text: Dave Pinter