Alanna Rosenblatt

Document Type

Thesis, Senior

Publication Date

Spring 2014




Sustainability, Higher Education, Technology






The increasing un-sustainability of the built university and the rise of the apparent mass democratization or synchronization of higher education through the virtual Massive Open Online Course [MOOC] is occurring concurrently with the mutation of the historically grounded Accident into the Knowledge Accident. The standardization of higher education through the MOOC has created the conditions for the Knowledge Accident, the “integral accident”, of the built university. This is where we find the present state of the university, in a moment of crisis grounded in unconstrained "progress". The current form of the MOOC, begun in 2011, has expanded and evolved with such rapidity that the effect cannot be accurately analyzed or observed. It's perceived success is framed solely within its temporality and rapid growth, obscuring the potentially detrimental effect on the built campus. The ‘pedagogical campus and classroom’ is being replaced by the individual screen and the living room; the classroom becomes in effect chair-less. This conflict of temporal vs. real, hierarchical vs. horizontal has created the conditions for the fragmentation of the built university; the accident is unknown. The evolving theory of the accident becomes a lens through which to assess these the conditions of the present, specifically the increasing vulnerability of higher education and the built university. The temporal nature of the digital is generating, but also obscuring the detrimental effects on not just the built university, but higher education in general, shielded behind data generated illusions of progress and success. This theses caters to the virtual MOOC, becoming the design for its built infrastructure while exposing the accident of the virtual: its corrosive effects on meaning and place. Architects have the ability to preemptively respond.

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