The ongoing struggles in the world’s economies has produced several innovations in the field of Architecture. One important change has been for professionals and students to seek more interdisciplinary skills that better prepare them for these inevitable economic shifts. Schools have responded in kind, defining those skills in either intellectual, analytical terms (i.e. teaching students how to better critically analyze situations while eschewing superficial “theoretical” approaches) while other schools have emphasized a more practical approach.
InSB exemplifies the latter: a program that combines all aspects of AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) into a single curriculum for both undergraduates and graduates. Founded by Tabitha Ponte and co-founder Arturo Vasquez, the school has an ambitious mission: to offer a truly integrated AEC education that is tuition-free.
What are Live Projects? A UK term, it refers to collaborations between architecture schools and real clients on real projects. In the US, for example, these are merely referred to as industry collaborations. Clients are widely variant, from municipal governments and youth organizations, as well as galleries and community-based gardens.
There are many iterations of this teaching model in the UK so the issue is, how to determine a good fit for prospective students? One issue that is increasingly at the fore of students’ minds is how to balance idealism with practical skills. At Birmingham City University’sBIAD (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design), the program is structured precisely to help students achieve that balance.
The economy is an issue on everyone’s mind and has been since the Crash of 2008. People around the world are cognizant of global issues precisely because we have all finally realized that nations do not and cannot behave as independent economic entities. The multiple economic crises reverberate through economies on all continents.
Given this situation, professionals in the architecture field—practitioners, teachers, and writers—have each tried to address the subject in meaningful ways that acknowledge the hardships while reassuring their colleagues and potential students that, eventually, things will be alright.
If there is one characteristic that defines “architecture” it is innovation. And if by innovative, you think responsive, then Domus Academy certainly qualifies. It was started by Maria Grazia Mazzocchi, daughter of Domus Magazine founder, Gianni Mazzocchi after people kept writing letters asking her to start a design school. And in 1983, she did just that.
For the basics, the school is very clear. Your accreditation comes from an affiliation with the University of Wales, in Cardiff, UK, which is awarded upon completing 180 Master’s level credits. And you also receive a Diploma Supplement from them which proves that you have a degree that is equivalent to major universities across the globe. And it’s sited in Milan, which if one is interested in Italian design, is an ideal locale. It’s a one year program, so it doesn’t require the extensive 2- and 3-year commitments that many programs across the world demand. It will cost a similar amount, however, at €23,790 Euro. But the best aspect of that admittedly large tuition fee is that it is for a single year—11 months to be exact. That means one can immediately begin searching for a job to pay off what is, after all is said and done, a relatively small student loan compared to average ones that are three times that size. There are also unrestricted scholarships available that defray costs from between 20%-50%. And in case you’re wondering, classes are taught in English.
Continue reading after the break
There’s a new program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Situated in the south campus designed by Kevin Daly of Daly/Genik, the Media Design Practices program is a newly minted program that is an exciting new approach to design.
Why you may ask has the ArchDaily College Guide decided to examine a media program when its focus is architecture schools around the world? Simple. Because this is an innovative program that will impart new skills, enhance the ones you have, and help you find a job to boot. All of this can happen regardless of your undergraduate degree.
Read our full review after the break
Given the state of the economy around the world, many people are returning to school in the hopes of acquiring new skills while riding out the worst of the effects of the global recession. Toward that end, ArchDaily has begun a College Guide to help people explore different educational options. There are many issues to consider beyond a school’s “name” such as the types of programs architecture schools offer. The Guide has highlighted schools with programs in Building Ecology, Forensic Architecture, and Human Rights, to name a few, while some of the practical issues have included cost analysis, financial aid, and access to cross-disciplinary training.
What has not been explored in the Guide because of its scope is a more theoretical examination of pedagogical strategies. What direction has architecture academics taken and where should it go in order to remain socially relevant, practically agile, and economically competitive? To discuss these issues, we interviewed Michael Rotondi, a founding student and current Distinguished faculty member of SCI-Arc and principle at RoTo Architecture. Throughout the conversation, Mr. Rotondi’s insight combine with a constant and voracious intellectual curiosity to provide visions that are important to both students and educators.
Read our interview with Michael Rotondi after the break
Architecture schools ideally combines practical, intellectual, and theoretical skills which center on the production of physical projects. The key is to find programs that are able to provide a judicious cross-section of disciplines to develop one’s critical and practical abilities. That is done either within the design program itself, or by providing access to other colleges and school campuses.
The University of Tennessee Knoxville is just such a school. It’s College of Architecture + Design or CoAD has three distinct programs that include the School of Architecture, the Interior Design Program, and the Landscape Architecture Program. Clearly, this program offers students a wide range of design coursework, which is complemented by access to courses in UTK’s colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences.
Read our CoAD profile after the break
AD College Guide: Centre for Architecture and Human Rights / King Mongkut’s University of Technology
Intervention in Human Rights has, until now, had very few models in the architecture profession. There are the non-profit organizations and NGO’s. They often focus on structures and spaces that have been decimated by natural disasters or military conflict. Then there is the Forensic Architecture approach which seeks to document exactly what people have undergone in those circumstances. Most architecture activists, however, fall into the first category, focusing on building or re-building.
While these models are very useful, they contain some inherent problems. One is that many of these organizations have predetermined agendas that dictate their intervention. Part of this is driven by the funding cycle: donors are not always inspired by the thought of funding a pig farm, but the idea of a new school designed by a famous architect makes an attractive selling point for new and continuing donors. Too often, however, that results in projects that are disconnected from the actual needs of local populations. Unneeded buildings are a waste of resources, time, money, and labor.
Continue reading the school profile after the break
AD Architecture School Guide: Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute
What makes a good architecture school? Clearly there is no single factor that comprises a good, or even a great, architecture school. Different aspects are important to different people. Students often cite access to well-known faculty members—otherwise known as “starchitects”—as an important feature. Professors and instructors mention their school’s outreach programs, pioneering studios, technologically innovative labs, and exchange programs. All of these are valid and important.
Of course, these factors must be weighed against practical considerations that include tuition, the cost of housing, and other expenses. Why? Because in Western Europe and North America, tuition can be measured in the tens of thousands. What’s more, in the U.S., student loans aren’t forgivable which means your survivors can inherit up to US $90,000 worth of debt. And if the current economy has taught us one thing, it is that it’s cyclic.
So before investing all that money, it’s important to determine how a school will help you succeed. What are the practical and critical skills the school’s curriculum will impart to ensure a) your professional success, and b) your personal success (that means your overall quality of life). Because upon graduation, the goal is to gain skills to support yourself well while doing what you enjoy.
Read our CASE profile after the break
By Sherin Wing and Guy Horton
Utah’s red rock country is sublime in a Martian Chronicles sort of way. Its geologic folds, wrinkles, bridges, and domes compose a forbidding yet stunningly beautiful world of rock and sky. It’s the sort of landscape John McPhee would lyrically traverse in his book Basin and Range, in what he refers to as a “physiographic province.” It is also the psychological province of vision quests, the kind of vast and mystical space that Jim Morrison might have experienced. These are just some of the images that emerge from this landscape.
The work of Imbue Design, the Salt Lake City-based, three-person firm made up of Hunter Gundersen, Matt Swindel, and Christopher Talvy, is inserted here to form a meditative retreat that rises out of what McPhee would describe as a “silent world of austere beauty” (1). The project is captivating not merely because of its form or material, but because of its program as a meditation retreat for practicing Buddhists or others seeking to enter a silent world. It’s also a home away from home.
Read the interview with the Imbue’s design team after the break
A while ago I was talking to someone about designing a Buddhist temple. I began to think about the subject of sacred spaces: their configuration, their meaning, and most importantly, how people use those spaces to give their religious practice meaning. I realized that designing sacred space is a pretty unique endeavor. And given the nature of commissions these days, the chances that people are unfamiliar with a particular religion is pretty high.
So here’s a hypothetical for you: imagine someone unfamiliar with Christianity has been commissioned to adaptively re-use, say, a building for a Catholic church (L.A is full of such storefront churches). And this person has discovered from an online source that of central importance is the altar and the altar table. But, if that person is not a practitioner, it’s possible that s/he might think, given the limitations of the pre-existing structure, that the altar could be placed in one corner and the altar table in another.
Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? Well, something similar was proposed for this Buddhist temple: the altar was placed to the side of the North-South axis. But you can’t place Buddha off to the side. Placing a Chinese Buddhist altar along the North-South axis is of paramount importance. This was, in essence, a big cultural mistake
At the University of Minnesota’s College of Design several projects have been developed to advance more cost-effective, more environmentally aware buildings, infrastructure, and even communities. One very useful program they’ve developed falls under the Building Evaluation category. It’s called the CBSR Site and Building Design Carbon Calculator. What does it do? It measures the carbon footprint of any building or site. In other words, it measures greenhouse gas emissions from sites and from building development. Even better, it can be used by both professionals and the general public alike, for either existing or future structures. Indeed, after downloading the calculator, which is very well-researched and comprehensive, it is clear that this tool is self-explanatory and very easy-to-use.
If you have ever used SketchUp, you probably really like what it does, which is basically allowing 3D viewing and modeling of everything from furniture to cities, as the website declares. At the University of Washington’s [design machine group], researchers in Computer Science and Architecture have decided that SketchUp needs some additional functionality. Why? Because, as they say, while “SketchUp may displace the use of physical models in design, [it] has not eliminated difficulties in the ad-hoc navigation of digital models by non-experts, which often occurs during design reviews.” In fact, as they see it, SketchUp’s mouse navigation requires a great deal of skill. Keyboards and mice are clunky and difficult to use when examining 3D computer models, especially for non-designers, i.e. those who are unfamiliar with using the software frequently.
While many people are familiar with UCLA as a university, because it is so large, it’s difficult to track all the different important studies conducted there. Yet many of these can directly improve the lives of people right now. Take for example the HEED, or Home Energy Efficient Design program, developed at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design. Begun back in 2002, it was created to help literally everyone improve the energy efficiency of their homes. For free.
What is it? Basically, HEED provides a set of tools that help anyone and everyone re-design housing to be more energy efficient. Even better, it can be applied to both new and existing structures. And while it was initially developed for California homeowners—they were identified by their utility providers—the software has since been reconfigured so that professionals in the building industry can also use them. The software now can be used by architects, contractors, engineers, and of course, individual homeowners. This free, downloadable software incorporates several advanced features that allow both individual DIY-ers and professionals to restructure and redesign the efficiency of new and existing structures.
In the design industries, sustainable ratings are too often parsed for single structures. What makes this approach inefficient is precisely that it fails to account for a more comprehensive approach to promoting sustainable strategies. Moreover, what comprises “sustainable” in one rating system may be completely ignored by another. Rather than implementing such piecemeal methods, the design and building industries need to consider a ratings system that accounts for categories ranging from resource allocation to quality of life issues.
Enter the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. It grew out of a studio from 2008, but the program has long since grown beyond its original vision. The program has created Envision, a voluntary certification system. Envision helps cities and infrastructures deploy sustainable strategies “for the design, delivery, and operations of large-scale urban developments and infrastructures.” To help users navigate all its features, there is a downloadable manual.
Carnegie Mellon University has a building in its School of Architecture that is a lab. No, the building does not house experiments, it is the experiment. It is called the Intelligent Workplace Energy Supply System and it provides the Energy Supply System (EES) for Carnegie Mellon’s Intelligent Workplace, which is part of the School of Architecture’s Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. It is a physical construction from 1997 that consists of offices, meeting rooms, and work spaces for faculty and students, all located atop the Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall.
What’s the goal? To study the viability of providing power, cooling, heating and ventilation to a building using thermal energy and renewable, bioDiesel fuel. The specific investigations range from design and installation to evaluation of both individual components as well as their ability to work efficiently in concert with one another. Ideally, once all this information is compiled, more comprehensive design strategies can then be identified and used by architects everywhere.