Preston Scott Cohen Eyebeam project records
Part of:
  • Preston Scott Cohen (archive creator)
  • Preston Scott Cohen (architect)
  • Cameron Wu (collaborator)
  • Chris Hoxie (designer)
  • Preston Scott Cohen Inc. (architectural firm)
  • CR Studios Architects (associated architectural firm)
  • KDLAB Inc. (animator)
  • Eyebeam Atelier, John S. Johnson III (client)

Preston Scott Cohen Eyebeam project records



Level of archival description:
Extent and medium:
  • 281 born-digital files (2.4 GB)
Scope and content:
The Preston Scott Cohen Eyebeam project records, 2001-2016, consist of 281 digital files that document the architect’s competition entry for the Eyebeam Atelier Museum in New York City, developed in 2001, including files related to a 3D printed model of the design, realized in 2002, when it was commissioned for Intricacy, an exhibition curated by Greg Lynn held at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003.

The invited competition was intended as a museum space in Chelsea, New York City for the exhibition, education, and production of digital art and technology. Cohen’s project responds to this program with the use of distinct planes, chords and stacked toroidal volumes in a segmented structural system that nevertheless allows for continuous and non-repeating circulation. The entry was shortlisted for the first and second stage of the competition, and was one of twelve finalists. The Eyebeam is considered among Cohen’s most recognized works.

The archive consists exclusively of born-digital records donated by project collaborator Cameron Wu, and includes 154 digital models in Rhinoceros, 30 digital models in STL, approximately 90 digital images, one video, and a number of Illustrator, Photoshop, PDF, and Microsoft Word files. The digital files are operational and can be opened using the latest hardware and software programs available on CCA CAD workstations.

The majority of the records date from 2001 to 2007.

The project records contain comprehensive documentation of the Eyebeam competition entry, including digital files relating to conceptual design and research, design development, the final design proposal, and the production of the 3D printed model. While many of the records were originally created for the architect’s competition entry, work continued on the model when it was commissioned for Intricacy, an exhibition curated by Greg Lynn held at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. The archive also contains records relating to pre-design activities and briefing information, photographic documentation of the original physical model (which has since deteriorated), and presentation materials including Illustrator line work for demonstration boards and an animated video.

The bulk of design files for the Eyebeam project are .3dm files created in Rhinoceros stored in the folder “Rhino.” Files contain renderings of the project’s design development from early conceptual design to the final proposal, and include studies in form and tensegrity, a property that relies on continuous tension and compression. Design files in the archive also include a small number of .stl files used to 3D print the model.

Approximately 90 digital images in the archive document various details of the Eyebeam project, including screen captures of the design files and photographs of the original model. Digital images also include records relating to pre-design activities and briefing information about the competition. The folder “bRIEF” contains digital aerial photographs of the site and digital images of textual documents that provide information about zoning and building program area requirements, as well as a Microsoft Word file containing an interview between the firm (Preston Scott Cohen) and the client (Eyebeam Atelier, John S. Johnson III) that discusses user requirements, design considerations and design objectives.

A small number of files stored within the folder “PLANS” document presentation materials for the project including Adobe Illustrator line work produced for demonstration boards. These files involve text on the “highlights” or selling points of the design that would appeal to the program committee.

The archive also contains a two-minute animation depicting the digitally rendered interior of the building, stored in the folder “Cameron Wu.” The video was required by the Eyebeam competition to be included in a pubic exhibition of each competitor’s design. The video was produced by KDLAB, a digital media studio in New York City founded by Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture graduates Joseph Kosinski and Dean DeSimone.
Reference number:


Physical characteristics and technical requirements:

This fonds contains a number of born-digital files in CAD and 3D modeling formats. Due to the complex and often proprietary nature of CAD formats, proper rendering and use of these files may require highly specific software. CCA’s dedicated Study Room CAD workstation is loaded with a wide but incomplete range of such software. For further information about services and software available for interacting with obsolete or niche file formats, please contact Collection Reference (reference@cca.qc.ca) and ask to speak with the Digital Archivist.

The material in this archive was organized in 2015 by collaborator Cameron Wu in anticipation of being donated to CCA. It has been kept in its original order, arranged into eight directories, identified by content and/or file format:
- older
- screenCAPS
- Cameron Wu
- rhino
Biographical notes:
Preston Scott Cohen was born in Asheville, North Carolina in 1961. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1982 and Bachelor of Architecture in 1983. He then attended Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), where he received his Master of Architecture in 1985.

Cohen’s early professional experience includes positions at Peter Eisenman's office in New York in 1984, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates from 1985 to 1987, and Prentice and Chan Ohlhausen Architects from 1988 to 1989. Shortly after leaving Prentice and Chan Ohlhausen, Cohen opened his own practice, Preston Scott Cohen Studio, out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2004, the firm was incorporated, and in 2005, he established a partnership with architects Amit Nemlich and Gilles Quintal, becoming Design Principal of Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.

In addition to his private practice, Cohen is the Gerald M. McCue Professor of Architecture Harvard University GSD. Gaining professorship there in 2001, he has served as the Director of the Master of Architecture Degree Programs, and was appointed the Chair of the Department of Architecture in 2008. Cohen has also held faculty positions at Princeton University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Ohio State University. He was the Frank Gehry International Chair at the University of Toronto in 2004 and the Perloff Professor at the University of California in 2002.

Cohen’s architecture encompasses diverse scales and types of buildings including houses, educational facilities, cultural institutions and urban designs for private owners, institutions, government agencies and corporations. His design approach explores new architectural forms through advanced applications of mathematics, oblique projections, and reconfigurations based on the projective geometry of the 17th century, supported by digital modelling technologies.

Recent projects include: Datong City Library (2008-2013), The Tel Aviv Museum of Art Amir Building, Tel Aviv, Israel (2003-2011), Taiyuan Museum of Art, Taiyuan, China (2007–2013), Nanjing Performing Arts Center, Nanjing, China (2007-2009), The Goldman Sachs Canopy, with Pei Cobb Freed Associates, New York, NY (2005-2008), Robbins Elementary School, Trenton, New Jersey (2005-2011), Goodman House, Pine Plains, New York (2002-2004).

Cohen is the recipient of many honours and awards in architecture including the Progressive Architecture Award for Taiyuan Museum of Art (2010); First Prize, Taiyuan Museum International Competition (2007); First Prize Competition Robbins Elementary School, Trenton, NJ (2005); Academy Award in Architecture, American Academy of Arts and Letters (2004); Progressive Architecture Award, Architecture Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2004); First Prize, Herta and Paul Amir International Competition for the New Building, Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2003); Progressive Architecture Awards: Torus House (2000), Terminal House (1998).

He is also the author of "Lightfall" (Skira Rizzoli, 2016), "The Return of Nature" (with Erika Naginski, Routledge, 2014), "Contested Symmetries and Other Predicaments in Architecture" (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), and numerous theoretical and historical essays on architecture.
Conditions governing access:
  • Access by appointment only.
Conditions governing reproduction:
  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fonds, please contact the CCA (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer:
  • Cameron Wu, transfer via .zip package, 2015.
Custodial history:
  • Prior to their transfer to CCA, the files in this archive were in the possession of Cameron Wu, who worked in Cohen’s office at the time of the Eyebeam project. The files were transferred to CCA in a single .zip package via network transfer. These records were acquired by CCA as part of the Archaeology of the Digital project. Selected items were displayed in the show Archaeology of the Digital: Complexity and Convention, May-October 2016.
Archivist's note:
  • The Preston Scott Cohen Eyebeam project records were initially surveyed and given a brief description by Digital Archivist Tim Walsh in 2016. The archive was fully processed and described by Alexandra Jokinen, Digital Processing Archivst, in 2017.
Credit line:
When citing the collection as a whole, use the citation:

Preston Scott Cohen Eyebeam project records,
Collection Centre Canadien d’Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal.

When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.
Related units of description:
  • A 3D printed model of Cohen’s Eyebeam competition design, reprinted from STL files in the archive for Archaeology of the Digital: Complexity and Convention, can be found in CCA’s Prints and Drawings collection under reference code DR2017:0019. Additional resources include the CCA e-publication Archaeology of the Digital 22: Preston Scott Cohen, Eyebeam Atelier Museum, ed. Greg Lynn (2017), ISBN 978-1-927071-35-9.

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