Posts tagged with "Architectural Education":

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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.
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Notes From Penn Design’s “Architecture Education Goes Outside Itself”

ARCHEdem Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania have been at the forefront of the education of American architects since the late 19th century. This past weekend, the University's School of Design held a two day conference, Architecture Education Goes Outside Itself, on the evolution of architecture education in the past century-and-a-half from the first "school"—a correspondence course created in nearby Scranton, PA. A group of young scholars selected, and perhaps inspired, by Penn professor Joan Ockman (whose important new book, Architecture Education: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America, thoroughly covers the subject) presented papers on America's always-evolving efforts to initiate and rethink the education of architects. From the debates on the value of aesthetics versus technical requirements and the AIA's desire to direct educational policy, to Lewis Mumford's attempt to open up architects to outside influences and Sigfried Giedion's plans to bring history to Harvard despite Walter Gropius' ambivalent relationship to teaching history, these scholars focused on dozens of important moments of change in architecture schools. In the post-World War II period there were papers on G. Holmes Perkins experiments at Penn, Feminist summer schools and the AA unit system and it's influence in America, travel as a form of knowledge in design studies starting with the Venturi's Yale trip to learn from Las Vegas and teaching at historically black colleges and universities. In all of these sessions the question of the future of design education seemed never to be far from the speakers' and audience's interest and concerns. Penn dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor and professor David Leatherbarrow provided the right amount of levity, insight and passion to keep the symposium focused and on point throughout the two days of talks and discussion. Finally the university's glorious architectural archives were put on view in a special exhibition in their Kroiz Gallery that focused on education topics. A entire series of water damaged boards from Venturi's studio visit to Levittown complimented Beaux Arts renderings and Robert le Ricolais models in the exhibition which is open to the public.