• Columbia University | Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation | Spring 2019

  • Fridays 11am - 1pm | Ware Lounge, Avery Hall

  • Course Faculty: Grga Basic (gb2559) & Michael Krisch (mrk2152)

  • Syllabus

  • Blog Coming Soon

Course Objectives

A wide array of available spatial-visualization tools can extend journalistic practice, helping reporters better find, understand, and tell stories. These same tools can expose the invisible spaces, forces, and environments that architecture, urban design, and planning students must engage, navigate, and learn to represent as part of their spatial toolkit.

Points Unknown will task students with producing cartographic narratives, investigating a site utilizing principles borrowed from both journalistic and architectural practice.

Key objectives include:

  • Building core competency in spatial analysis and visualization, including data acquisition, cleaning, analyzing and visualizing; multi-criteria decision analysis; spatial statistics and network analysis
  • Producing a cohesive cartographic narrative that tells a compelling story about a site
  • Introducing core journalistic training, including reporting and interviewing techniques, into architectural and design practice practice
  • Integrating design principles and spatial and data analysis into journalistic practice

Research Site Topics

  • Water

  • Waste

  • Transit

  • Ecology & Resiliency

Site Editors

To be announced


Each class will commence with a discussion based on readings assigned in the previous session. Students should participate in these discussions, and instructors will ensure that all students in the class are actively engaged. Class participation will be wrapped into your attendance grade.

The core deliverable of this course is a group assignment due at the end of the semester, and the majority of assignments work towards producing graphics and narratives to be incorporated in the final. Despite this, all mapping (4) and reporting (3) assignments will be completed, submitted, and graded individually.

  • Cumulative Mapping Assignments (30%)
  • Cumulative Reporting Assignments (30%)
  • Final Story Map (30%)
  • Attendance & Participation (10%)

Office Hours

Office Hours will be offered weekly from 1-3PM on Tuesdays in 30-minute intervals. All office hours require appointments that can be made online at calendly.com/pointsunknown/office-hours. If you are consistently unable to meet during this time due to class or other conflicts, please reach out to us directly to schedule an appointment.

Final Output

The final output for the course will come in the form of a presentation that successfully highlights an identified problem of the site, posits evidence through novel implementations of data, and provides a comprehensive narrative through geospatial representations. In addition, the research conducted will surface recommendations for site intervention.

Resources and Materials

Optional readings for the class will be available via journalistic organizations, Columbia Libraries, and other content providers. Links will be hosted on the CourseWorks platform as well as this site under the Resources tab. Resoures specific to journalistic investigation can be found at Journalism Resources.