Posts tagged with "Architectural Education":

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AN selects top architecture talks to hear this fall at midwestern schools

While architectural academic institutions in the Midwest boast incredible professors from various parts of the design industry, students don’t often have the chance to peek behind-the-scenes of an international practice since many larger firms keep their offices in New York or Los Angeles. Luckily for students, many major architects give back to the field by teaching on the side. For as long as architecture has been an educational pursuit, students have benefited from these unique opportunities to learn from an architect in action. University lectures aren’t just for students, though. Whether they are two years or twenty years out of school, every architect can enjoy these events. That’s why ahead of the upcoming school year, we’ve rounded up a list of impressive talks—all free and open to the public—happening this fall at various universities from St. Louis to Chicago. Kansas State University College of Architecture, Planning and Design Lawrence Scarpa, cofounder of Brooks + Scarpa Architects Monday, October 1 Michelle Delk, ASLA, partner and discipline director at Snøhetta Monday, November 5 University of Michigan Taubman College Florian Idenburg, cofounder of SO–IL “Open Structure - Open Form” Tuesday, September 25 Ann Forsyth, professor of urban planning at Harvard GSD “Planning for Longevity: A Gender Perspective” Monday, October 8 Washington University Sam Fox School Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, founders of TWBTA Cannon Design Lecture for Excellence in Architecture and Engineering Wednesday, October 24 Barry Bergdoll, MoMA curator of architecture and design “Activating the Museum: Reflections on Architecture in the Gallery” Friday, October 26 Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture Takaharu Tezuka, cofounder of Tezuka Architects Friday, October 19 Kenneth Frampton Le Corbusier Symposium Keynote Address Thursday, November 8 Iowa State University College of Design Kevin Schorn, associate at Renzo Piano Building Workshop 2018 Herbert Lecture in Architecture Friday, September 7 University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture Dan Pitera, executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center Friday, October 5 Amie Shao, principal of MASS Design Group Friday, October 26 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture & Urban Planning Katherine Faulkner, founding principal of NADAAA “Organized Layers” Friday, September 14 Alexandra Lange, architecture critic at Curbed, author “A Modern Education: Learning from Froebel, Frank Lloyd Wright, Anne Tyng and Isamu Noguchi” Thursday, October 11 Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang “Expanded Practice” Friday, October 19
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AIA announces 2018 Diversity Recognition Program honorees

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced the 2018 honorees of its Diversity Recognition Program, now in its 10th year. The program seeks to recognize those who have substantially committed to increasing diversity in the field of architecture, as well as those who have challenged the traditional ways of doing things. This year’s honorees are the Maryland-based Architecture, Construction, Engineering Mentor Program (ACE), and the organization, Iowa Women in Architecture (iaWia). The ACE Mentor Program, founded in 1994 in Rockville, Maryland, is a workforce development program created by AEC industry members as a way of getting high school students interested in a career in design or construction. The program supplies students with scholarships, mentorship opportunities, and support as they pursue an education in an AEC field. To date, over 1,000 schools and 9,000 students participate in the program annually, and ACE has awarded over $15 million in grants and scholarships since its founding. Iowa Women in Architecture was co-founded by four women in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2011 as a nonprofit that would support women in architecture and serve as a resource for every stage of the profession. The group’s mission is to increase the visibility of women in design, advocate for women in design fields, and to help advance women to leadership positions. This year’s AIA jurors included:
  • Steven Spurlock, FAIA,
  • Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA, and
  • Jonathan Penndorf, FAIA
Both honorees will be recognized at the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture in New York City this June. Past honorees have included AIA San Francisco – Equity by Design (2017) and The Alberti Program: Architecture for Young People (2016).
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How should we really rank architecture schools?

What are we to make of a recent survey that claims MIT, the Bartlett, and Delft University of Technology are the best architecture schools in the world?  This ranking, created by British-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) also names Stanford, New York University, and University of California, Santa Barbara, as its top schools for architecture and these institutions don’t even have standalone schools of architecture. This assessment has received a great deal of attention on social media, particularly from those associated with the top schools. But what are we to make of a listing that does not even mention SCI-Arc or the Architectural Association in London? It also lists the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales ahead of Cornell University, and Kyoto University just ahead of Princeton and the University of Michigan. I have nothing against the schools that came out on top, nor am I trying to be chauvinistic by emphasizing U.S. universities, but one has to wonder about a list that puts King Saud University in Saudi Arabia ahead of Rice University in Houston. But what criteria did the QS use in establishing the ranking? First, this firm, which calls itself a “higher education marketing company” and one of the “three most influential university rankings in the world,” looked only at universities. This means that while QS surveyed “2,122 institutions across the globe, offering courses in architecture or the built environment,” schools like Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Cooper Union, or the Royal College of Art in London were not even considered for evaluation. QS asserts that its evaluation is based on four factors: academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per paper, and what it calls “H-Index citations.” An H-Index citation is a metric that attempts to “measure both the productivity and citation impact of the publications of a scientist or scholar.” It’s hard to learn more about the QS architecture ranking, and it seems rather sloppy and unscientific, but the firm also rates universities worldwide, and these rankings seem to line up fairly closely with its architecture list. Its top universities in the world are, in order, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, University of Chicago, and the ETH Zurich. Interestingly, Yale University came in sixteenth in the QS world ranking of universities, but its architecture school ranked a lowly 100th in the world behind the University of Kebangsaan in Malaysia, Texas A&M University, and Monash University in Australia. This QS ranking seems tone deaf to the real qualities that make a great architecture school, even while admitting the value and importance of PhD-level scholarship and research. Architecture is a craft as much as a liberal art, and therefore requires its teaching institutions to transmit a particular set of real-world skills that have to be mastered by students. For this reason, a great lab with CNC milling and robotic machines is important to contemporary design education. The students’ ability to work with their hands, render a plan, and be able to create a working section is as important as learning the history and theory of the discipline. In addition, the realities of the marketplace mean that students need the mentoring of professional working architects who make up the bulk of most design schools. The students who come out of great design schools need the refined focus of building culture, and this has been true since the École des Beaux-Arts and its workshop intern practice that is unique to the field. Furthermore, today’s architecture graduates don’t always find employment in traditional architecture offices—let alone go on to pursue PhDs as the QS ranking would suggest. In the words of cultural critic Brian Holmes, “designers, architects, and other actors in the creative fields must be multidisciplinary, open to collaboration, and motivated to find and initiate these often-amorphous work arrangements.” You can only get these in a full-blown school of architecture, and this need not be a university. There are many problems with the QS evaluation that undermines its usefulness, but one, in particular, is its disregard for educational differences between undergraduate and graduate programs—not to mention overlooking the educational content in two- and four-year degree and non-degree programs. The DesignIntelligence ranking of schools in the United States may also have shortcomings, but at least it gets the finer points of undergrad and graduate education and considers them. It identifies Cornell as the best undergraduate program in the country and the Harvard Graduate School of Design as the best graduate program, and that assessment seems more in line with real-world architecture in 2018. Finally, it may make sense to consider architecture education in a national context, rather than a worldwide one, since the licensing protocols and building requirements are so different from nation to nation.  Sorry, MIT, but this QS ranking is so myopically concerned with academic citations as to be nearly worthless as a guide for what comprises quality architecture education in all its 21st-century variety and subtlety.
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For $90, Frank Gehry will teach you architecture and design

Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry will be teaching architecture, design, and art on the online education platform Masterclass. It is the latest online program that lets anyone get an intro to the field—or allows architects to brush up on their skills. Gehry will share his philosophy on design and architecture from his enormous model archive, giving a glimpse into his creative process with case studies, progressive models, and storytelling. “I have tried to give the students insight into my process—how and why I did things. I hope this gives them the wings to explore and the courage to create their own language,” said Gehry. The renowned architect joins other MasterClass instructors, including Serena Williams, who taught a tennis workshop, and Christina Aguilera, who gave students a singing lesson. For more information, visit their website.
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Milton S. F. Curry, associate dean at Taubman College, on race, class, public education, and the future of architecture

The following letter was sent to The Architect’s Newspaper in response to the current debate, at local and national levels, about public education, in and out of the field of architecture. The author, Milton S. F. Curry, is the Associate Dean at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Director of Michigan Architecture Prep ARCHITECTURE AND PUBLIC EDUCATION: CULTIVATING CREATIVE POTENTIAL In University of Michigan President James B. Angell’s Commencement Address on June 26, 1879, he stated  “The most democratic atmosphere in the world is that of the college. There all meet on absolutely equal terms. Nowhere else do accidents of birth or condition count for so little.” Ezra Cornell stated in his address at the opening of Cornell University on October 7, 1868, “I hope that we have laid the foundation of an institution which shall combine practical with liberal education, which shall fit the youth of our country for the professions, the farms, the mines, the manufactories, for the investigations of science, and for mastering all the practical questions of life with success and honor.... I trust we have laid the foundation of [a] university—‘an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.’” These words are not merely rhetorical flourishes, they are ideological imperatives that buttress some of our superb world-class public and private universities and institutions and by extension our collective belief in an egalitarian system of public education that educates all, no matter what one’s lot in life. The Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program—an architecture enrichment program based in Detroit and supported by the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning—leverages the institution’s public ethos by engaging high school juniors in a studio-based architecture and college preparatory academic program. The program—one of the few of its kind to commit to a half-day full semester program with high school students—is an exemplar in leveraging university-level thinking towards enriching the secondary education of students in a large urban public school district. The field of architecture is expected to grow by 17 percent between now and 2022 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Yet as of 2008, only 1.5 percent of American architects were African-American, despite comprising 12 to 13 percent of the total U.S. population. This fact alone—virtually unchanged since I was a junior in high school, accounting for population growth and demographic growth among minority populations since the 1960s—should precipitate crisis-level response from our educational and professional institutions and accrediting bodies. But it hasn’t. Attracting diverse students, retaining them and supporting their academic success and professional development is challenging in architecture for several reasons: 1) unique residential segregation by class and race in the U.S. which leads to sizable gaps in academic achievement by twelfth grade—evidence shows that residential segregation and segregation in the nation’s public school system has gotten worse since the 1970s when desegregation plans were enforced by state and federal offices for civil rights; 2) lack of sufficient cultivation of “successful mindsets” among underrepresented minorities and marginalized populations and groups, 3) lack of “critical mass” of underrepresented minorities and other marginalized groups—making it more difficult to develop a sense of well-being and belonging, and 4) the focus on “identifying talent” versus “cultivating potential” in trying to articulate and sell the value of an architecture education to minorities and marginalized populations. The discipline of architecture alone cannot alter the systemic and exclusionary forces that have resulted in the current situation in which architecture students, and top-tier university students as a whole, are much wealthier and more ethnically and racially homogeneous than the population at large. Yet precisely because of our legacy of studio-based educational pedagogy and the capacious way in which architects can receive a broad liberal arts education while simultaneously becoming experts in visual and spatial aspects of conceptualizing and making physical and virtual objects at all scales, we are uniquely qualified to make substantive interventions in the public education landscape at this moment in American history. Detroit students, like so many students in large urban school districts, need more opportunities to expand their creative horizons beyond the traditional classroom. At a time when the twin forces of efficiency and technocracy translate into more mechanized test-taking and quantitative metrics of evaluation, an architectural way of thinking and making can unleash creative potential in students who have been all but written off because their way of learning and their cultural forms of expression and knowledge exchange do not comport to middle-class values and norms. Our democracy depends upon quality public educational institutions to educate the country’s diverse population. Privatization and defunding of public education strike at the heart of our social compact and our racial history as a nation. Our current political debates about the growth of charter schools and voucher schemes and the privatization of public schools as alternatives to underperforming public schools must be subjected to fact-based analysis. As U. S. Senator Elizabeth Warren stated in her January 9, 2017, letter to U. S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, “Today’s voucher schemes can be just as harmful to public school district budgets, because they often leave school districts with less funding to teach the most disadvantaged.” With just 58 percent third-grade reading proficiency in Detroit Public Schools, as reported by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce State of the Region Report 2016-17, clearly there is a necessity to improve performance in Detroit and other urban school districts. But this urgency need not result in opportunistic formulations that lead to random shuttering of neighborhood schools or a turn to online education as a panacea for the problem of effective knowledge exchange in K-12 education. The collective energy and monies spent trying to influence politicians and create a parallel system of unregulated publicly-funded private charter schools would be better spent facilitating smaller classrooms, empowering quality teachers to teach meaningful content as opposed to ‘teaching to the test,’ and paying teachers for the value that they are expected to provide. Individual and collective identities—understood in the context of historical legacies of exclusion and marginalization—are directly connected to life outcomes. Detroit students, like so many students in large urban school districts, need more opportunities to expand their creative horizons beyond the traditional classroom. Without a critical mass of representation from women, Black Americans, Latinos and Hispanics, and others who have been systematically underrepresented in the discipline of architecture, the discipline will continue to underserve not only the communities from which these persons emanate, but the entire polity. The context for the production of art and architecture today is shifting—because people want to understand themselves as not only having a stake in the cities they live in—and they want to be involved in how they are designed and developed. I anticipate a new generational critique of the exclusion of our disciplines to underrepresented minorities and lower-class citizens globally; and a renewed sense of participation in thinking anew about the very institutional structures that enforce elitism and exclusion. Detroit Public Schools Community District students who participate in the Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program—unlike the caricatures of them that get publicized in the media—are motivated to learn and eager to be intellectually challenged. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. They—many of the over 130 students who have matriculated through our program—are better equipped to succeed in college and better prepared for the cultural shift from an urban high school to a top-tier public or private university. How do I know? I know this because we have students who have matriculated through the program who are now enrolled at the University of Michigan, Lawrence Technical University, Michigan State University and other institutions, and they tell us that our program helped propel them to grow their mindsets and to more quickly assess the own “knowledge landscape” for gaps and to correct for those gaps quickly and proactively. Project-based learning coupled with focused basic proficiencies can more quickly propel motivated and unmotivated students to aspire to their own academic achievement—this is what we have found in our five semesters of operating the Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program. Smaller class size, intense student-teacher interaction, and iterative-based design projects that incorporate applied geometry and visual arts are the core of our program. Their design projects are infused with lesson plans on social movements and the relationships between the visual histories of social movements and the space of the city—the integration of humanistic thought, social issues of concern to them and their families, and the study of architecture. Our relative success suggests that these pedagogical innovations can and do work, and that those of us in higher education can learn from them as well as apply many of these design-centered pedagogical approaches into the university context —in architecture and design-related fields but also in the humanities, social sciences, and engineering. Students in our program are not acutely aware of the history of race and class that pervades the city of Detroit. They are not consumed by the massive loss of jobs, the rampant corruption at the hands of countless emergency managers for their school district and for the City of Detroit. They are interested in seeing—that is, believing in—a vision of the future for themselves that is possible and achievable. They are less interested in platitudes like ‘individual responsibility’ or ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstaps’ than in personal narratives of persons like them who have started their own business or charted a nonlinear path from high school to a seat in an architecture firm doing what they love and what they are passionate about. As Marshall Brown stated in our Fall 2016 Graduation Ceremony, “Architecture can take you places—geographically, mentally, and intellectually.” When I was the age of our students—a high school student growing up in Central California to upper middle class parents, yet living among working class Black Californians, and being bused to predominantly white public schools during the heyday of school desegregation—I valued diversity even though it meant enduring psychological trauma at the hands of racist teachers. The wager that was available for me, my parents, and so many of my contemporaries was to seize the high level of intellectual content accompanied by abject racism or settle for low-quality educational options with a homogeneous Black community (largely poor and working class). With Black wealth at fractional percentages of white wealth, the Black middle-class today, 2017, is relegated to the many of the same schools and school districts as their working class and poor counterparts. Because of my background of inhabiting several worlds simultaneously, I celebrate cross-class and interracial learning environments as some of the most stimulating forums of cross-cultural knowledge exchange and one in which the research has shown are best at producing a leveling of the playing field in terms of matching Black and Latino academic achievement with their white counterparts. The methodology of public education—one that used to be focused on high-performance and outcomes that provide a pathway to college—has shifted to become more focused on accepting society’s conception of poor and working class and minority students as irreparably damaged by their station in life and their own bad luck. What flows from these conceptions are a tamping down of expectations and a “settler” mentality that these students should be educated, but the threshold of education that they deserve is related to the individual choices that their parents made and on the available resources that society is willing to part with to help them along. This is not helped by an accelerated white flight currently taking place whereby white families are fleeing schools with the largest minority student populations.  To counter these efforts, universities must become more engaged in leveraging their resources and intellectual capital to create expanded opportunities for the nation’s most vulnerable children—those in high-poverty and monolithically minority-populated urban metro areas and those in rural areas. Based on our experience at the University of Michigan, this is the best way to extend our values and assist in what has to be a massive crisis-level response to the failure of our public educational system to live up to our aspirations as well as the historical success that was achieved in other periods of our history—when public schools were very good and when public university systems were recognized and funded as a public good. More information on the University of Michigan Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program can be found here.
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New study: Architecture students clock the longest hours

Indiana University recently published its annual National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which polls freshmen and seniors from universities across the U.S. and Canada to gauge how they spend their time. The NSSE tabulates average hours worked outside of the classroom and, according to the report, students of architecture have accumulated the most independent study time in 2016. Topping out at 22.2 hours a week, architecture placed ahead of various engineering and STEM programs (19 to 18 hours), Medicine (16.41 hours), and Law (13.73 hours). The data is unclear, however, on how many of those hours were spent staring blankly at white sheets of paper or spinning models in Rhino. Leisure Studies, a major that evidently takes its subject matter seriously, spent the least amount of time working individually, coming in at 11.02 hours.
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SCI-Arc announces scholarship benefitting Los Angeles public schools students

The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has announced a new, full-tuition scholarship for incoming undergraduate first-year students hailing from the Los Angeles Unified School District. The merit-based scholarship will be available starting with the class of 2017-2018 and can be extended to cover all five years of tuition at SCI-Arc so long as the student is able to remain within the top 10-percent of their class. In a press release publicizing the new award, SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso affirmed the institution’s relationship to Los Angeles, stating, “SCI-Arc is embedded in the fabric of Los Angeles. With this scholarship we are reaffirming our relationship to the city’s public education system.” Alonso added, "We are proud of our well-rounded and rigorous Undergraduate program. A Bachelor of Architecture from SCI-Arc provides a creative way to see the world not only in architectural terms, but in sociological, political, and economic terms as well.” The award represents the second new full-tuition scholarship offered by SCI-Arc in the last few weeks. The institution announced a new set of scholarships for its technology- and urbanism- focused SCI-Arc EDGE programs earlier this month. Those awards were announced in order to, as Chair of Postgraduate Programs at SCI-Arc David Ruy explained in a statement for that scholarship, showcase SCI-Arc’s “commitment to forward-thinking scholarship and research during what has now become clear as an uncertain moment in history.” The awards also come as institutions and local governments, responding to the uncertainty generated by Donald J. Trump’s unexpected election win, move to fortify and expand existing programs meant to help disadvantaged and minority students. Applications for the 2017-2018 school year are due by January 15, 2017. For more information, please visit SCI-Arc’s official website.
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SCI-Arc announces new series of full-ride scholarships

The recently-announced scholarships would cover the full cost of tuition at the Los Angeles—based university and will be awarded to applicants in each of the three-semester postgraduate degree programs encompassing SCI-Arc EDGE (see list below). The degrees will be available to domestic and international applications and be given based on merit. Announcing the new funding in a press release, Chair of Postgraduate Programs at SCI-Arc, David Ruy made the following statement, saying, “I’m extremely proud to announce these new scholarships. It represents SCI-Arc EDGE’s complete commitment to forward-thinking scholarship and research during what has now become clear as an uncertain moment in history.”    The SCI-Arc EDGE program is encompassed by four separate degree tracks that include:
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Architectural Technologies (Master of Science in Architectural Technologies), a program that aims to establish a new technological discourse for architecture, an open-ended platform for practical training and theoretical research, and SCI-Arc’s international reputation for technological innovation in architectural design.
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Fiction and Entertainment (Master of Arts in Fiction and Entertainment), a program that aims to pioneer new forms of fiction and entertainment creation by using Los Angeles as a critical laboratory.
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Design of Cities (Master of Science in the Design of Cities), a program that seeks to apply architectural thinking to the design and production of cities and urban environments for the future.
  • SCI-Arc EDGE, Design Theory and Pedagogy, (Master of Science in Design Theory and Pedagogy), a program that requires a applicants to have attained a terminal degree in architecture for admission (B Arch, M Arch, or equivalent) prior to attending, and that aims to “development an intellectual framework that can sustain a life-long theoretical project in architecture.”
The deadline for SCI-Arc EDGE’s postgraduate degree programs is January 15, 2017. For more information, please visit SCI-Arc’s official website.
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Peter Zellner to launch Free School of Architecture

In a recent article, Los Angeles—based architect and educator Peter Zellner called for a reassessment of the contemporary state of architectural education. His article, part cri de coeur, part manifesto, launched a great deal of debate, including a response by Todd Gannon, cultural studies coordinator at SCI-Arc. As a result, Zellner is now in the process of launching a new educational endeavor to hopefully carry out some of the changes he'd like to see made. His new project, the Free School of Architecture (FSA), will launch in the summer of 2017 as a “tuition and salary free” school seeking to “explore the edges of architectural education.” The Architect’s Newspaper talked to Zellner about FSA as he prepares for its inaugural semester. The Architect’s Newspaper: Can you describe what FSA is (or will be) and why you decided to start a school? Peter Zellner: The Free School of Architecture (FSA) was started partially as a direct follow up to the concerns I outlined in my article.

While the idea for FSA is still gestating, I can describe what it won’t be.  The Free School of Architecture will not be accredited, will not offer professional degrees, will not create a need or an opportunity to teach for salary, will not provide course credit or reciprocity with traditional institutions and will not have a permanent home.

FSA is a stand alone and autonomous organization and its primary goal is to absolve both students and teachers of conforming to established models of thinking.

We will see what emerges in 2017 but my hope is that over the course of a few years new, independent and diverse voices emerge from the school. Conversations originating at the Free School of Architecture may eventually be captured and published out by a sister organization being established next year, the Free Architecture Press (FAP).

What are the central tenants of FSA?

FSA’s central tenants are:

1. To promote free and critical thinking in architecture;

2. To encourage a diverse community of students and teachers to explore the edges of the profession and the discipline;

3. To create a free and safe zone for debate and new ideas to emerge;

4. To question the need to ratify or sanctify official architectural positions and doctrines;

And most importantly:

5. To create an academic milieu in which young, diverse and independent architectural voices can emerge organically.

What role does the fact that FSA is “tuition and salary free” play in the political objectives of the school?

I think the point of creating a “not tuition-driven, not-over-salaried-educator friendly architecture school” is pretty simple: Students and teachers will be no longer forced into their usual roles and ideas can be literally exchanged for free. That doesn’t release or excuse either the students or teachers at FSA from having to argue for the value of their ideas.  In fact, it elevates the need for real debate and exchange.

Your article for AN focused on the need to revisit the current conditions of so-called radical school from the prior generation. In this vein, how does FSA relate to Baudrillard's notion of the dialectical utopia? Well, I am no expert on Baudrillard but my understanding of his concept is that essentially utopias are “indissociable” from active social processes and therefore are in a continuous and dialectical, often “unharmonious,” relationship with the present or present situations. So I guess his point is that utopias exist now, not in the future, and they rub up against existing orders.

That said, I do believe that the present is built on the past (specifically, in several avant-garde architecture school cases—the works conducted in the 1970s and 1980s in London, Los Angeles and New York), so I am not at all naive about how we have arrived here or unabashed about referring the past to create a new present-future. By this I mean to radically re-open—without any nostalgia—the legacy of the Architectural Association in London under Alvin Boyarsky, SCI-Arc under Ray Kappe, as well as the academic and intellectual leadership of John Hejduk at the Cooper Union and Peter Eisenman at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies.

Old and good ideas are absolutely fair game, no one owns them and we all need to feel free to re-frame those academic moments and mine them for new approaches. Anyone who tells you otherwise or claims those ideas as their own or that they must belong to this clan or that school is being disingenuous. Architecture advances without hegemonies and FSA will not promote the usual academic hierarchies, it intends to upend them.

In your first year, how many students do you aim to have? How many courses do you aim to teach?

12 students will join 10 teachers in June and July of 2017 for 6 weeks.

12 courses will be taught of which I will teach two classes, to open and close the year.  The remaining 10 will be taught in 30, 60, and 120 minute blocks by the FSA’s 10 teachers.

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Of prophets and professionals: a response to Peter Zellner

Though I share some of his concerns about the state of contemporary architectural education, I was taken aback by comments from my friend and colleague Peter Zellner in a recent editorial in this paper. In “Architectural Education Is Broken—Here’s How to Fix It,” Peter offers a five-point critique of contemporary education and a matching five-point prescription for a “post-studio and post-digital architectural education.” The criticism, gleaned from twenty-five-year-old comments by John Baldessari about the artist’s development of a “post-studio” course at CalArts nearly 50 years ago, takes aim at hierarchical master-disciple relationships between teachers and students, at the proliferation of academic styles that often result from them, and at the suppression of dissenting opinions such situations often entail. His prescription for change unfolds along a familiar, if vague, trajectory that valorizes shared knowledge, free experimentation, and egalitarian exchange among students and teachers. Some of Peter’s criticisms are justified, if a bit overblown. “Various forms of academic cult worship” indeed exist in architecture schools today, and this “pied-piperism,” to borrow a term from Eric Moss, has led many a promising student into unproductive territory. In my experience, though, most of those lost sheep eventually find their way home, and more often than not they return primed to parlay experience gained in foreign fields into significant contributions within the disciplinary fold. Peter’s complaints about the nefarious forces of digital technology, on the other hand, lack both specificity and substance. He merely states, rather than argues, his contention that digital tools foreclose creativity, and dismisses without comment not only the obvious achievements of several decades of innovative work at schools around the globe but also of his own students. Worse, the statement is not his own, but rather a quote from Peter Eisenman, which adds to an air of older generations kvetching about newfangled habits and, like his invocation of Baldessari, undermines his admonition against undue authority invested in the pronouncements of elder statesmen. However problematic, Peter’s criticisms are for the most part innocuous. I have more serious concerns about his proposals for change. His recipe for post-studio education rests on a specious, if common, elision of art and architecture and a ludicrous, if equally common, contention that architecture “can’t be taught.” Such arguments brush aside significant differences between art and architecture and perpetuate damaging mystifications about the nature of architectural practice and education. I agree with Peter’s assertion that architecture is an art form. But unlike painting, literature, music, and other modes of artistic production, it is also a profession with significant ethical and legal responsibilities, and a discipline with cultural ambitions to advance the public imagination. The latter aspect distinguishes the practice of architecture from the craft of building. The former distinguishes it from the production of fine art. Peter and I share a deep commitment to architecture understood as a cultural practice with professional responsibilities, as opposed to a design profession with cultural ambitions. Nonetheless, I take issue with his proposals, which, in spite of his criticism of a supposedly style-obsessed status quo, continue to portray architecture almost exclusively in aesthetic terms, pay only passing lip service to “technical knowledge,” overemphasize issues of style and individual expression, and disregard questions of professional competence. Any serious proposal about architectural education must take the full gamut of architecture’s professional and disciplinary responsibilities into account. More damaging is Peter’s proposition, also borrowed from Baldessari, that architecture cannot be taught. Apparently, the best we can do is to “set up a situation where [architecture] might happen.” This is a bizarre idea to be put forward by such an intelligent and effective teacher as Peter Zellner. Peter proposes that we can’t teach architecture because he conceives of architecture, as Baldassari apparently conceives of art, as a mystical quality, a transubstantiation of physical matter into some higher form of existence. This is the sort of stuff that routinely pours from the mouths of those academic shamans Peter rails against in his essay. It can be seductive, to be sure, but it is nonsense. Architecture doesn’t just happen. Architecture is made. Architecture can be made, and its methods taught, because “architecture” refers not to a specific object but rather to evidence that an object—usually but not always a building—has been produced in terms of a specific way of working. Just as literature cannot be reduced to books, architecture cannot be reduced to buildings. Neither can it be reduced to drawings, models, or digital animations. Architecture is method all the way down. The Oxford English Dictionary defines architecture not as a kind of building but rather as “the art or science of building.” Another Peter, the historian better known as Reyner Banham, put it better: “What distinguishes architecture is not what is done… but how it is done.” Understanding architecture as having to do with how  rather than what  makes it easier to see that architecture is, like all academic disciplines, a cultural construct. Its techniques and methods, its history and theory, the habits and conventions of those who practice it, can and routinely are taught and learned, as evidenced by the surfeit of students who quickly master the tactics of their teachers that Peter laments in his essay. Of course, those techniques, histories, habits, and conventions also can be developed, transformed, thrown out, and replaced as needed. Such activities rank among the most important work that takes place in architecture schools. Understanding architecture this way also makes it easier to see that the field’s value system, its internal methods for identifying what constitutes good and bad work, is always a work in progress. Architectural quality, like architecture itself, is determined not by the presence or absence of some quasi-spiritual attribute in an object but rather by consensus. Constituencies in support of any architectural work must be constructed long before the project can be built, and even if constructed buildings are not one’s aim, it is an ability to assemble such constituencies, and little else, that transforms individual interests into relevant contributions and, in some cases, canonical achievements. In other words, architecture’s aesthetic ambitions are deeply political. And the disciplinary politics of architectural education, as Peter intimates in his essay, can make for some pretty ugly situations. Luckily, contemporary architecture can and does support a wide range of coexisting genres and associated value systems. In the best schools, a handful of them vie for dominance, motivating proponents of each to hone their political as well as their aesthetic and technical chops as they make their respective cases and build their respective constituencies. In the worst ones, well-meaning but misguided faculty utter empty pronouncements like “you can’t teach architecture.” There are plenty of issues with contemporary architectural education today, and I commend Peter for having put some of them on the table. But at the top of any list of things to fix in architecture schools must surely be the abdication of so many faculty of their responsibility to teach it. Todd Gannon is the Cultural Studies Coordinator at SCI-Arc.
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Architectural education is broken—here’s how to fix it

Todd Gannon, cultural studies coordinator at SCI-Arc, issued a response to the following article that can be found here. In an interview1 by art critic Christopher Knight at John Baldessari's studio in Santa Monica, the seminal Los Angeles artist had much to say about the state of art education in L.A. in the early 1970s and his efforts at the then-nascent CalArts program. At the time, the dominant pedagogical model in most art academies, as in many architecture schools, was founded on the inviolable relationship between master and disciple within the studio environment. This tradition—mostly established in medieval artisan guilds and professionalized in the 19th-century academy—relied on a few well-worn shibboleths:
  1. Creative or technical knowledge can only be passed on through direction supervision.
  1. The hand and eye of the disciple can only be cultivated, monitored, and authenticated by an appointed authority, typically a master or a master’s apprentice.
  1. The authority of the master’s opinion is evidenced by the caerful replication of the academy’s official style(s) and through the copying of known works by the master.
  1. Until sanctioned by the master or the academy itself, the disciple remains a novice and therefore an intellectual and creative subordinate.
  1. Any challenges to this (mostly) patriarchal order are considered heretical. (To wit: The Salon des Refusés of 1863.)
Baldessari and other notable L.A. art educators like Michael Asher upended these traditions by teaching what is now known as post-studio art practice. Post-studio art teaching was conceived of as a model of art-academics that inverted the relationship between what is taught, if it is taught at all, and what is practiced. It leveraged intensive group critiques between students and students, students and faculty, and faculty and faculty to attack what was practiced by artists in an effort to create space for new forms of art to emerge. Baldessari and others at CalArts shifted the onus of responsibility from the teacher to the student, moving art teaching from a master-disciple model to a communal and relational notion of education. This new model of art education was founded around open conversation, relentless critique, and a demand for a radical autonomy put to and assumed by each individual student. Baldessari explains:

Well, the whole idea was to raise the question what do you do in an art school? And you say, "Well, what courses are necessary to teach?" and that is question begging in a way, because you can say, "Well, can art be taught at all?" And, you know, I prefer to say, “No, it can’t. It can’t be taught.” You can set up a situation where art might happen, but I think that’s the closest you get. Then I can jump from there into saying, “Well, if art can’t be taught, maybe it would be a good idea to have people that call themselves artists around. And something, some chemistry, might happen.” And then the third thing would be that to be as non-tradition-bound as possible, and just be very pragmatic, whatever works. You know, and if one thing doesn’t work, try another thing. My idea was always you haven’t taught until you see the light in their eyes. I mean, whatever. Extend your hand, that’s what you do. Otherwise, you’re like a missionary, delivering the gospel and leaving. [laughs]”2

Architectural education today, perhaps not surprisingly, finds itself at a similar juncture some 50 years after institutions such as the IAUS, the Cooper Union, SCI-Arc, and the Architectural Association challenged accepted architectural academic orthodoxies, much like CalArts did in the arts. Many of the very schools of architecture that modeled new and innovative forms of teaching and pedagogy in the 1970s and 1980s now find themselves mired in various forms of academic cult worship: Digital traditionalisms, faux-art fetishisms, silly mannerist dead-ends, philosopher-shaman worship, and other neoconservative returns. The outcomes of this neoliberal and cultish return to a seemingly 19th century Beaux Arts models of architectural education have been devastating: Several generations of students were robbed of their voices and their right to grow potent individual practices; the architecture school falsely made into an imprimatur-machine for its academics, superseding the idea of a school as a space for free conversation, debate and critique; and most worryingly, the importance of the architectural school as an autonomous intellectual and cultural institution has been trolled and traded in, cheaply, for the bad faith business-innovation-two-point-oh-idea of education as an enterprise, student and teacher masquerading as entrepreneur and investor. Freeing architectural education now seems imperative and necessary. If we have reached the end of the current road, perhaps this is a golden opportunity to challenge these tired orthodoxies and to create a space for new forms of education, perhaps in post-studio and post-digital formats. This will require a challenge to these cults, and of them, the cult of the digital must be confronted and interrogated ruthlessly. Technology and its misuse and abuse, in particular, must be wrestled with now. As Peter Eisenman recently noted, “Technology is a cruel tool, because what it does is defer the possibility of the student being creative. The student can take an algorithm, produce 50 alternatives to the same problem… It takes away from you the possibility of value judgment.” Beyond the problem of too much technology, which might have an easy fix—namely turning off the screen once in a while in studio to read and think for an hour or two—one imagines that an inversion of the aforementioned and blindly accepted new academic traditions might produce a post-studio model of architectural education that could be constructed along these lines:
  1. Creative or technical knowledge can be shared through engaged debate, critique, and conversation.
  1. The relatively high value placed on the approved hand and eye of the student as an expression of the notion of individual genius should be challenged.
  1. The fast paced reproduction of official styles and the copying of contemporary professional works should be exchanged for awkward experimentation and slow growth.
  1. The student and the teacher must be seen as intellectual and creative colleagues whose conversations followed shared but not parallel paths.
  1. Intelligent challenges to accepted academic concepts by students and teachers alike should be celebrated and not extinguished.
Without placing more radical expectations on our current models of architectural education, our schools will forfeit their ability to fulfill their cultural and academic missions. Without freeing up a zone for architectural education to explore the space between vocations and ideas, the profession and the discipline will wither. Without a return to the value of an architecture of ideas and not an architecture of marketing concepts then the purpose and need for the very a school of architecture may be on the table. As these are not acceptable outcomes, the new goal of post-studio and post-digital architectural education must be to promote genuine intellectual change through a radical questioning of the very purpose of teaching, of the academy and, by extension, of architecture itself. The question one might ask now of architectural education, after Baldessari, is this: “Can architecture be taught at all?”  And, the answer might be, “No, it can’t. It can’t be taught. You can set up a situation where architecture might happen, but I think that’s the closest you get.” Peter Zellner is a longtime contributor to The Architect's Newspaper and teaches in the Graduate Architecture program at the University of Southern California, School of Architecture. 
1 From an oral history interview with John Baldessari,
conducted by Christopher Knight at the artist’s studio in Santa Monica, California, April 4–5, 1992. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
2 Ibid.
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Minneapolis college wants to accredit architecture students in just five years

Minneapolis architect John Dwyer is the latest on a growing list of educators hoping to streamline the path from architecture student to practicing designer—an odyssey of classes, vocational training, and rigorous licensing requirements that can top the time it takes to become a medical specialist. As head of the architecture department at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, Dwyer is offering a program designed to qualify architects in five years. The Bachelor of Architecture program is not yet accredited, but already has 55 enrolled students, according to a spokeswoman for Dwyer. (Dunwoody itself is accredited, but the program is a candidate expecting approval for degrees starting 2019.) Dunwoody also offers technical training and associate degrees, including a welding program in Winsted, Minnesota. Their architecture program prioritizes “hands-on, real-world experience” and mentorships with working designers. Students pursue an Associate in Applied Science Degree in the first two years, earning a Bachelor's three years later. The move to fast track architectural education and practice follows similar efforts at larger institutions, including the University of Minnesota. Last year the College of Design at the University of Minnesota announced a new, one-year MS-RP program that aims to help B.Arch or M.Arch graduates achieve licensure within six months of graduation. They cited a study from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) showing the average time from graduation to completion of the mandatory Intern Development Program (IDP) is 6.4 years, plus another 2 years to complete the exams and actually receive a license to practice.