Research Methods

ARCH 4700 introduces undergraduate architecture students to the art and logic of research. The purpose of this course is to offer an overview of research methods and guide students in the development and preparation of an independent research question about the built environment. Exposure to theories related to the research area and introduction to methodologies and strategies used in architectural research through the development of a case study will guide students in the development of a research focus. Critical-imaginative building exercises will supplement this effort. This focus will become refined through discussion and critiques with faculty and student peers. Additionally, students will work with the LSU Libraries Art and Design liaison to gain an understanding of the research resources available at LSU and enhance information literacy.

Professor/Instructor: Kristen Kelsch

Edges: Analog + Digital Fabrication

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.



Architectural Design VIII: Steady State Studio

Architecture Design VIII “Steady State Studio” is about no place in particular. That’s one way to describe what in this studio we call “the margin”—sites that are in the gap, leftover, residual, in-between, or otherwise mysterious albeit banal. Recently, the studio focused on marginal sites in order to achieve three primary goals:

1) to scrutinize, explicate, and reimagine the meaning of context in architecture;

2) to study architectural space as not only a technical art but as an arbiter and crafter of human experience and meanings that encompasses more than material and function; and

3) to express both of these ideas and develop design skills by creating architecture in an urban context.

This is a representation-intense studio in which students are pushed to try new techniques, make bold claims, test ideas in strange ways, and infuse their work with an idealism that only the adventurous can muster.

Architectural Design VII

Architectural Design VII—a service-learning course referred to as Mid City Studio—aims to affect the viability of the Baton Rouge community through thoughtful design, public engagement, and collaboration. Students work closely with the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance and the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority to identify neighborhoods, clients, and design projects. Coined “Mid City Studio,” the course addresses critical community needs and builds student leadership skills while reinforcing excellence in design. Students develop design parameters and an architectural program based on analysis of a specific site and the community’s needs. From program development to material selection, the project focuses on long-term environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Architectural Design VIII: High-Rise Urban Housing

Architectural Design VIII focused on high-rise urban housing in New York City. The course began with a group study of current high-rise urban housing in New York, familiarization with the New York zoning code and the development of its various districts and requirements, and a study of the various waters-edge districts of Manhattan. Students reviewed sites for possible use as they developed a program based on precedents here and abroad. The studio also included the study of contemporary apartment layout and design in Europe and the United States. Students focused on the interplays between the urban experience in the specific places we study and the design of comfortable, marketable interior environments. Each student was asked to provide a descriptive analysis of one unique, mid-level high-rise with drawings entirely by hand.

Issues in Sustainability

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.

ARCH 4155 Recording Historic Structures

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).