Martina Kohler, Associate Director of First Year

Martina Kohler is an architect and educator originally from Germany. She is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Design at the School of Constructed Environments and Associate Director of First Year. Prior to coming to NYC Martina was a member of the full–time faculty at the Technical University Berlin, Germany teaching in the Graduate Architecture Program as a Research Assistant Professor. She holds a Master of Architecture from the Technical University Munich, Germany and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the University of Colorado, Denver, where she completed a post-graduate program as a Fulbright Scholar.

Martina gained professional experience at offices in Munich, Berlin and New York working on award winning projects. Her professional practice today focuses on design solutions that contribute to a healthier, more sustainable future. This ongoing endeavor is embedded in her interest in the larger questions of global climate change, its local impacts on urban areas and the urban future in a 1.5°C world.  

What are the most exciting and/or rewarding parts of teaching First Year? The most challenging?

The most exciting is to get to know each student throughout the semester. Each semester the classroom forms its very own community based on who is in the room, reveals new perspectives in discussions or comes up with yet an entirely different way to interpret an assignment. First Year is a true threshold, an emotional, creative and intellectual transition. Most students are the first time away from home, many are coming from far away and here we are all together in one classroom. I find the diversity of students in the classroom quite incredible and feel privileged to be invited into emerging thought processes, and witness the growth of creative expressions of everyone’s vast land of imagination.

The diversity of backgrounds can sometimes be also quite challenging when teaching. Students arrive with vastly different life experiences, diverse talents and varying skills sets. Classroom cultures differ greatly around the world. It takes some time to feel out the range of experiences students bring into the classroom while trying to create an inclusive and respectful community for all. In the end, I believe everyone plays a part to create a thriving community where mutual respect is the base for open ended inquiry that translates into authentic creative expressions. This is when Parsons is at its best.