Concentration seminars focus on various topics related to architectural issues. Edges: Analog + Digital Fabrication familiarized students with analog and digital fabrication methods through the investigation of materials, assembly, and tectonics. Students were asked to develop a process or approach to making, to investigate material limitations, and to design with the specifics of each toolset. A series of weekly design projects explored the translation of digital models into physical artifacts through manual and digital fabrication tools. Students explored techniques using a combination of laser-cutting, 3D-printing (ZCorp + ABS), casting (resin + plaster), 3D-scanning (large + small scale), CNC-routing, and CNC-milling. Each design exercise required an assortment of digital and analog processes, post-production skills, and, in most cases, assembly, complemented by the fabrication of display frames or boxes for each assignment, used to exhibit the work at the end of the semester.
Comprehensive Architectural Design focuses on the comprehensive design of a single building, integrating material selection, mechanical, acoustical, structural, lighting, and two- and three-dimensional studies. The studio focuses on the comprehensive design development of a building program into a terminal project emphasizing the tectonics, mechanics, and presentation crucial to the profession. The semester is arranged as an escalation, a step-by-step expansion where each phase informs the next. The phases draw on the skills the students have accumulated in the past three years and combined, result in architecture.
The Issues in Sustainability seminar examines issues in sustainability as they relate to the practice of architecture. The seminar utilizes design/build as a mechanism through which to explore relationships between material life-cycles and formal and operational dialogues of exchange, adaptation, access, agency, inclusion, and phenomenon. In this seminar, [UP]cycling > [down]cycling, students designed, built, and exhibited four temporary structures from repurposed materials and then recycled the structures. Lectures, precedents, and discussions on the prototyping process addressed the difference between industrial-design prototyping and architectural-scale prototyping.
Recording Historic Structures is a hands-on field and laboratory experience in current methods of documenting historic buildings, including hand methods, photography, and photogrammetry. The course provides demonstrations and exercises using technical drawing skills and issues related to building diagnostics. Coursework includes guidelines research, precedent studies of previous Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record award winners, and production of drawings conforming to HABS standards in relation to Fort Pike, located on the Rigolets in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. Students learn the importance of graphically presenting accurate, detailed illustrations when documenting historic structures. The spring 2014 student team placed second for the Peterson Prize for their work in this course.
Black-and-white photographs by Jim Osborne IV (MFA 2013).
The Architectural Design Concentration course emphasizes an architectural problem developed around faculty expertise and emerging opportunities in the profession. In Professor Crow’s studio, Super Max City, students investigated how architecture contributes to the political, cultural, and social formation of the contemporary city through the design and fabrication of a large and complex urban revitalization project sited at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The project incorporated three major programmatic elements: high-end residential condominiums, a modular building or building-component factory, and an experimental penitentiary. The intent of the Super Max City studio was to ask and propose critical responses to the question, “What is a city?” through the conceptualization and design of a mega-project similar in scope and sophistication to the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, New York, and the Woodwards Redevelopment project in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Honors Architectural Design Concentration independent research studio emphasizes an architectural problem developed around faculty expertise and emerging opportunities in the profession and is an opportunity for motivated students to define their own research and design goals. Each student develops their own proposed field of investigation, site, program, and question. Students work with the instructor to define a methodology and to propose range of techniques with which to best investigate their topic. Each student composes their individual advisory committee. At least one member of the committee must be from the School of Architecture, and the remainder is assembled of members from other disciplines within the university or professionals working in the field. Meetings and reviews are held with this committee throughout the semester to advance research. Projects will result in fully developed research and design methodologies and preliminary design proposals.