SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011





(212) 592-2228

Whale fall at the World Trade Center mall – SVA MA Design Research

Ajay Revels

Whale fall at the World Trade Center mall

Male fall

Jonathan Briley loved music and like most venatic humans of New York, he was in hot pursuit of the white whale of fame & fortune. By day, he labored in a high-end restaurant as an audio engineer. Every moment after work was spent playing in a band. Ultimately, a number of articles, books and films were inspired by Jonathan. But despite his efforts to make it big in the music world, music didn’t turn Jonathan into the star. Jonathan became famous, because he fell.


Mall fall

Mall n. (môl, măl) Thank the British for the concept of The Mall. In 1737 it described a broad, tree-lined promenade in St. James’s Park, London. By 1962 ‘mall’ meant an “enclosed shopping gallery”. Forty-two years later, in 2004, Santiago Calatrava unveiled the Oculus, his 160 foot tall, white ribbed mall interpretation. It was meant to be sacred hunting grounds for shoppers seeking chocolates, jeans and other great bargains. However, the shops at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub are empty. Sales clerks shift from one bored foot to another. Despite the malls $4 billion price tag, no one feels the need for shopping therapy. The Oculus is famous because the buildings fell.


Whale fall

On September 11, 2017, our eyes consumed endless loops of video taken from the street level. We took in the images of a plane crashing into a high-rise building. There was the enormous booming explosion. Then a bright fire ball, and black smoke trailing off towards New Jersey. The second plane. Later huge shards of glass and steel fell to the ground. And soon after, office workers, in gray suits and white shirts. Falling. They ended as puffs of pink mist upon impact. Back then, our brains could not digest what our eyes were ingesting. But now we get it. Today marks the 16th anniversary of the day Jonathan Briley became Falling Man. The day the World Trade Center mall turned into a place of image consumption. A whale fall in lower Manhattan.

Shoppers! Act now, prices are falling fast.

Shopping is dead. Long live the shopping mall.