Posts tagged with "Architecture Schools":

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The Cooper Union launches a free database dedicated to student work

Two weeks ago, The Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture launched its new online Student Work Collection database, an archive of student projects from the 1930s through today. Spanning over eight decades, the database aims to illustrate how The Cooper Union’s experimental approach to architectural education has evolved over time and influenced architectural pedagogy at large. The collection is free and open to the public.  The database's release was organized into two phases. To celebrate the project's initial launch on November 13, the school hosted a two-part discussion between former and current faculty members. The first phase provides access to approximately 20,000 analog records dating from 1930-2000, including almost 1,600 design studio projects completed at the school. The collection “highlights the singular inclusion of humanities in architectural pedagogy that distinguishes The Cooper Union from other schools of architecture,” the school wrote on their website Accordingly, the first discussion was centered around the school’s pedagogy up until 2000 and John Hejduk’s legacy as teacher and dean. Participants included Diana Agrest, Peter Eisenman, Michael Sorkin, Sue Ferguson Gussow, and Michael Webb. The second discussion was centered on “the impact the pedagogy has had on the teaching and discipline of architecture” and was comprised of former graduates including Peggy Deamer, Laurie Hawkinson, Stan Allen, David Gersten, Bradley Horn, Kyna Leski, and Toshiko Mori.  Phase II began earlier this month and is expected to continue through 2022. “Once complete, the Collection will become the first comprehensive, public, digital resource for historical and contemporary architectural pedagogy and student work,” said the school. The second phase will broaden the collection’s material by including 32,000 images, text, and audiovisual records from 2001 through today.  You can browse the database according to courses, projects, locations, and people organized in alphabetical order. Users can also filter the collection of photos, drawings, and models by role, semester, or problem being addressed. A selection of this material was on view at the school’s 2018 exhibition, Archive and Artifact: The Virtual and the Physical, which presented 50 years of the school’s undergraduate thesis projects.  “We are excited to share this rich body of work digitally and are certain it will help provide an integral reference point for any student, educator, or researcher of architecture about the radical changes in architectural education and practice of our last century,” said Steven Hillyer, director of the Architecture Archive.
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Francisco Javier Rodríguez-Suárez named new director of University of Illinois's School of Architecture

It’s the end of the college semester and things are shaking up at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). After almost three years without a permanent director, and an interim one from the Department of English, the university’s College of Fine and Applied Arts announced that Francisco Javier Rodríguez-Suárez as the new official head of the School of Architecture. Set to take over in January of 2020, Rodríguez-Suárez will enter his post after coming off a long teaching stint at the University of Puerto Rico, where he’s served as a Distinguished Professor of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture since 2016. The architect, editor, speaker, and educator has an extensive background in both designing and teaching, having served as the school’s dean from 2007 to 2016 while building out his practice, rsvp architects, in San Juan.  Rodríguez-Suárez himself is a graduate of Georgia Tech and Harvard GSD, which he attended after studying a year at the Université de Paris. He’s held teaching positions at a wide range of universities including the University of Seville and the Universidad de Cantabria (both in Spain) as well as the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, and his alma mater, Harvard. In 2010, he was invited to explore the history of architecture and pedagogy as a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. In a press release, Kevin Hamilton, dean of the UIUC College of Fine and Applied Arts, said it was Rodríguez-Suárez’s international experience and broad connections that stood out to the hiring committee the most. “In Francisco, we also have someone who brings deep knowledge and appreciation for our School of Architecture’s distinctive and historic record of accomplishment. Such as a combination of global and local perspectives will serve us well not only in architecture but across the college, helping us to deeper service to the state, the region, and beyond.” AN spoke with Rodríguez-Suárez in September when his third-year students in Puerto Rico drew attention for creating counter-proposals to New York’s planned Hurricane Maria memorial. The project was born from a class discussion on whether it was appropriate for such a memorial to be erected in the city, especially so soon after the hurricane. Rodríguez-Suárez told AN that the competition studio was arranged to help students learn the importance of architectural competitions and how to think critically and present strategic ideas.  While it’s unclear yet if and what classes Rodríguez-Suárez will teach in Illinois, he aims to encourage his students to take risks.  “There are kids all over the world studying to be architects, and what I’m saying is that we’re all inhabiting the same world, the same space, and there’s no reason why they couldn’t be the best in that group,” he told The Daily Illini. “And I will provide the confidence and the space and facilitate a platform for that to take place.” The change in directorship comes as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is building a new design center by Bohlin Cywinski-Jackson. 
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AN tallies up the top design lectures to hear at Midwest schools this fall

This fall, Illinois’ Chicago Architecture Biennial and Indiana’s Exhibit Columbus are anchoring architecture and design events across Middle America. But there are plenty of free talks to hear in case the big exhibitions don't make your schedule. To help you keep up with the momentum, AN put together a select list of lecture events happening at architecture programs across the Midwest. University of Michigan, Taubman College Of Architecture and Urban Planning Marc Simmons, principal at Front, Inc. September 24 Carme Pigem, co-founder of RCR Arquitectes October 8 Mark Burry, founding director of Swinburne University of Technology’s Smart Cities Research Institute (SCRI) October 31 The Ohio State University, Knowlton School of Architecture Michelle Delk, partner at Snøhetta September 11 Troy Schaum and Rosalyne Shieh of SCHAUM/SHIEH September 18 Jeanne Gang, principal of Studio Gang October 23
Sharon Johnston & Mark Lee, principals of Johnston Marklee & Associates
November 6
Aaron Forrest, co-founder of Ultramoderne November 13 Chelina Odbert, executive director at KDI November 20 Art Institute of Chicago Tatiana Bilbao, founder of Tatiana Bilbao November 7 School of the Art Institute at Chicago Heinrich and Ilze Wolff, co-founders of Wolff Architects September 19
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The West Bank is getting its first contemporary design school

For aspiring designers in the Palestinian Territories, educational opportunities are relatively few and far between. Some universities in the area offer traditional design courses for students, but the region’s continuing state of conflict has limited available resources for designers, including access to global markets and networks. The founders of the Palestine-based collective Disarming Design From Palestine are establishing a school to fill the void.

Located in the town of Birzeit in the West Bank, the Disarming Design School is the first contemporary design school in the Palestinian Territories. It offers peer-to-peer learning programs for Palestinian students, as well as residencies for foreign students looking to acquire knowledge of local design and craft techniques. The school is also meant to serve as an important resource for local artisans and designers. Professional workshops, movie screenings, and lectures will be supplemented by a design library and a creative lab. As cofounder Annelys De Vet told Dezeen, the long-term goal is to form an academy that cultivates a critical design curriculum that is “inclusive, community-based and focused on resilience, emancipation, and self-empowerment through acts of design.”

De Vet and her co-founders, Raed Hamouri and Ghaleed Dajani, are already well-established in the Palestinian design world. In 2012, they set up a label to sell Palestinian-designed items on international platforms. Through the sale of useful goods, Disarming Design From Palestine aims to present “alternative narratives about contemporary Palestine” and, more broadly, to explore the role of creative practices under conditions of conflict. Members of the label’s team will serve as tutors for students participating in this summer’s workshops, teaching alongside curators from the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit and academics from the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, the Lucerne School of Art and Design, and Sint Lucas School of the Arts in Antwerp.

In a part of the world where international travel can be difficult, Disarming Design is fostering a program that is decidedly global. The next step for the young institution is to collaborate with the Sandberg Instituut to set up a temporary masters program in Amsterdam focusing primarily on design in conflict zones. A predetermined portion of the master's students will be Palestinian and will be expected to return to the school in Birzeit as instructors. Similar to the specialized lecturers and tutors leading the Disarming Design School’s first workshops in the West Bank, they will bring global and local design perspectives to a region of the world in need of both.

Lecture by Anthony Guida, Design Director, MEOW WOLF

Anthony Guida, Design Director, MEOW WOLF LECTURE Thursday, April 4, 2019 This lecture will begin at 7:00 pm in the Forum, Academic Wing, Elaine and Bram Goldsmith Campus, Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90045. The lecture and parking are free and open to the public. Call 310.665.6867 or email ArchitectureLandscapeInteriors@otis.edu for more information. "ANTHONY GUIDA, is an architect and design educator. He is currently the Design Director for MEOW WOLF, a Santa Fe based, multi-disciplinary arts and entertainment company that creates mind-blowing immersive experiences. He oversees the design and planning of new building projects and exhibitions as well as the collaborative development and detailing of interactive environments and installations. New MEOW WOLF locations are currently under construction in Denver and Las Vegas, and a Washington DC project was recently announced. Anthony previously developed professional training and academic initiatives for Architecture 2030, a non-profit think tank working to solve climate change through the building sector. He has held faculty positions at the University of Cincinnati, Otis College of Art and Design, UCLA and the USC School of Architecture. Anthony was also the founder and principal of LUSHLIFE LA, a building and landscape design practice in Los Angeles." - Anthony Guida https://meowwolf.com/ IMAGES clockwise from upper left * The Navigator, design by MEOW WOLF, photographed by Kate Russell * Anthony Guida * Kaleidoscopic Cathedral, design by MEOW WOLF, photographed by Kate Russell
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How can architects build the equitable discipline we deserve?

For those of us in schools of architecture, September is an exciting time animated by the return of students and the arrival of those beginning their journey. Architecture school is a powerful framework for cultivating capacities—a place of exploratory, creative, integrative, and rigorous learning and making. The design studio at the heart of our curriculum powerfully enhances student development as peers work together through face-to-face interaction in a shared space. However, those of us involved in accredited U.S. architecture programs will convene a population of students and faculty skewed toward white, male, and able-bodied people from well-off families. Studies by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) show that our discipline is marked by gaps in participation and advancement by gender and ethnicity, leading to a profession where these disparities are even more pronounced. As David Gissen has pointed out in these pages, we lack data on other key factors, including ability. As exhilarating as starting an architecture degree can be, it also marks one step in a screening process that yields a demographically skewed profession and academic discipline. Where are the missing cohorts, and what factors are turning them away? How are we inadvertently sidelining women, first-generation college students, people of color, disabled people, and other traditionally underrepresented constituencies? How can we enrich architectural education and practice by expanding access and improving the value proposition? I am passionate about architecture’s intellectual and creative capacities, so I believe that a society that relies on architects to translate its needs and desires into built form deserves better. The underrepresented population turned away by the cost and other challenges of architectural education deserves better. Those of us in the field deserve better. What will make the field more accessible—and more compelling—to a diversity of talent? How can we build the discipline we all deserve? One familiar consideration is people, as more diversity in firm leadership and architecture school faculty will counter explicit and implicit bias by expanding the range of visible role models, mentors, and gatekeepers. A second well-recognized component is content: Presenting a diversity of perspectives and models within research and curriculum will better train our profession to serve society. If the theory syllabus, for instance, covers feminism and multiculturalism only in week 13—after students have chosen their paper topic and checked out to charrette for final reviews—the ways that women, people of color, disabled people, and queers have interpreted and shaped our built world will seem like an afterthought to the achievements and preoccupations of the propertied white men who historically have been recognized as architects. People and content are priority areas for any good diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. Pipeline and mentoring programs starting with pre-college and continuing through faculty and firm promotion are essential, as are strategies for expanding what counts as core knowledge. Our ability to make substantive change is limited, though, if we don’t also tackle the ways we structure our degree programs and practices. By making high demands in money and time, the formats of education and practice distort the demographics of our field. Consider licensure: NCARB reports that the average time it takes from commencing architectural studies to obtaining licensure is more than 12 years. This is a very long probationary period marked by continuing education, tracking, exams, and diminished earnings. Given that the rigors of licensure may outweigh the rewards, people with fewer resources often pursue other career paths. Nearly half of those pre-licensure years are typically consumed by education. Whether you enter the field through an undergraduate professional degree or through a liberal arts or science degree followed by graduate study, architectural education requires a lot of academic credits. For many students, this also translates into a high debt burden. Many of those credits consist of design studios that meet for three to four hours per credit—rather than the typical one-hour-per-credit standard—while also demanding another three or four times as many hours in evening and weekend work. This curricular burden multiplies with each course or studio. Architecture school culture expects intensive effort disproportionate to the credit achieved. Studio is one of the glories of architectural education, increasingly emulated in other fields from engineering to business. But who can afford to dedicate this much time to schoolwork? Probably not a parent, a caregiver, a student-athlete, a first-generation college student working a job to offset costs, or a person with a disability that magnifies the endurance test of long studio nights and charrettes. This dynamic carries forward into practice. The habit of undercompensated overwork, instilled in studio, primes students for exploitation in the workplace along lines described by the Architecture Lobby. Studies by the American Institute of Architects Equity by Design committee suggest that the heavy time demands placed on many junior and midlevel associates push women out or take them off the top promotion track, because those years coincide with the period when many are starting families. To address these issues, NCARB and other organizations are reducing time-to-licensure by changing the Architecture Experience Program and launching Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure degree options. Faculty should extend this work deeper into the format and culture of architectural education, reviewing our assumptions about learning so that we attract and foster a broader range of talent. In doing so, we can accelerate progress toward building the discipline we deserve. To test these ideas, my colleagues and I at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning are embarking on a human-centered redesign of architectural education. Working in close contact with interaction and experience designers has shown me the value of human-centered design as a way to see interactions from varied user perspectives, and to redesign processes to promote success. By mobilizing this approach in architectural education, we hope to understand how our current students and those missing cohorts perceive and experience both our degree programs and the larger profession. Identifying the factors that turn people away will help us test ways to bring a wider range of people into the intellectual and professional world we cherish. One tool for building the discipline we deserve is pursuing academic innovation by piloting new approaches to teaching and learning, with the goal of improving the value proposition of architectural education. In many fields, institutions are combining online platforms with new business models to offer learning in a wider range of formats beyond the standard multiyear, full-time residency model. Some schools offer courses in self-paced online modes or create microcredentials that allow learners to gain competency. This lets them try out a new field through part-time study, which is compatible with work and other obligations. Architecture schools already deploying academic innovation or testing alternative formats range from IE University and Academy of Art University to the London School of Architecture and Build Academy. Our focus at Taubman is on something we’re calling equity innovation: academic innovation that promotes equitable access to learning and professional opportunity. This spring we launched an Equity Innovation initiative aimed at the human-centered redesign of architecture school. By experimenting with a broader range of ways for students to learn, we believe we can meet the needs and priorities of a more diverse community of future architects. As a first step, we have convened a task force and launched a multiyear competitive incentive funding program to elicit, develop, pilot, and deploy new approaches. Drawing on research by NCARB, ACSA, Equity by Design, the J. Max Bond Center, and other sources, we aim to understand the dynamics of selection and attrition shaping our student population. What are the points at which prospective architects exit the field? What curricular structures and experiences promote success equitably? Does the portfolio requirement unduly weed out promising candidates from impoverished urban school districts? Can more inclusive review practices promote gender equity? Can we lower the cost of education by complementing the high-contact model of the atelier studio with other platforms for design learning? What can we draw from the achievements of historically black colleges and universities, other minority-serving institutions, and past initiatives such as the one described by Sharon Egretta Sutton in When Ivory Towers Were Black? By prototyping—and ultimately deploying—equity innovations across and beyond the curriculum, we aim to remake our field. This work presents challenges, of course. Many faculty, alumni, and students are attached to our current ways of teaching—they worked for us, after all—and are loathe to tinker with cherished institutions like the desk crit, the all-nighter, and the marathon review. Others may fear a loss of status and cultural capital if the field draws less on the canons of Western philosophy and elicits theoretical knowledge from a more diverse range of sources. Finally, not everyone wants to let go of cultural capital built on selectivity and exclusion. I hope that by advancing this conversation within architectural education we can solidify the core strengths of our field, disentangle them from needlessly exclusionary mechanisms, and find common ground in enlisting a broader range of talent to design our world. Building the discipline we deserve is no small task, so we will partner with professional organizations and other schools to promote architectural excellence on more accessible terms. Join us in creating greater opportunities for all.
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UW-Milwaukee elects new urban planning and architecture chairs

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has elected two new leaders for its School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP). Lingqian (Ivy) Hu will serve as chair of the Urban Planning department, with Mo Zell taking over as chair of the architecture department. Zell is currently the associate dean and will be the first woman to chair the department. Hu has served as associate professor at UW-Milwaukee since 2010. Lingqian (Ivy) Hu has written extensively on spatial mismatch both in the United States and China. With a research focus on how transportation policy and planning affects the lives of people in vulnerable communities, Hu’s tenure as chair comes as UW-Milwaukee’s Master of Urban Planning degree program receives accreditation for another seven years. UW-Milwaukee has been offering urban planning courses since 1974, will full accreditation given by the American Planning Association (APA) in 1977. Mo Zell is a member of the leadership team of Woman in Design Milwaukee and a partner at bauenstudio, designers of the Veterans Memorial at Northeastern University and finalists of the 2011 Burnham Prize and the Washington Monument Grounds Ideas Competition. Zell founded the Mobile Design Box for SARUP, connecting community entrepreneurs with UWM designers in a formerly vacant space in Milwaukee’s Concordia neighborhood. The recipient of a $30,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Creativity Connects program grant, Zell will assist in connecting a pool of architects, artists and designers in creating commissioned art, with projects constructed in venues across Milwaukee that discuss the city’s socioeconomic diversity and material culture.  Zell has authored books on traditional architectural drawing. According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), four out of ten architecture graduates in 2017 were women. The Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) reports that women make up 39% of graduate program faculties in urban planning schools.
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University of Kansas will rename its architecture school, lose "Planning" in its title

In a brief message on its new website, the school of architecture at the University of Kansas (KU) announced the change of its name from the School of Architecture, Design & Planning to the School of Architecture & Design. “On the face of it, it might seem like a simple change,” said Dean Mahesh Daas in the online announcement. “But since we seldom have the opportunity to revisit what we call ourselves, we invested a tremendous amount of time and energy into this decision. The new name just better reflects our vision, which is to be 'the pioneering force for global impact through design.'" The name was culled from over 100 alternatives that were gathered by students, faculty, alumni, and staff at a January brainstorming session. Along with the new name, the school rebranded its website with a new URL (www.arcd.ku.edu) and is referring to itself as Arch/D for short. As Daas pointed out, the name of a school is often meant to express the school’s vision. For instance, The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture recently announced a name change to the School of Architecture at Taliesin. That name change came with the school’s financial break from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
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UMass Amherst completes cross-laminated timber Design Building for architecture, other programs

Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates recently completed construction of the new Design Building at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the first academic building in the U.S. to use a Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) as its primary structure. (See images of the building under construction here.) Targeted for LEED Gold, the building includes other sustainable architectural features like bio-swales for water runoff filtration, a green-roof which doubles as an outdoor classroom, and the largest installation of wood concrete composites in North America. The building is described by Principal Architect Andrea Leers as “a teaching tool for the design disciplines.” Leers made the case that educational environments, especially those for design school, can serve a pedagogical function in the training of young architects. Leer stated further that:
From my own teaching experience there’s nothing more potent than being able to talk with students about the space around you—in this case, the building’s collaborative configuration, innovative structure, considered material and detailing choices, environmentally-driven site, and synergistic landscape concepts that define the project.
The building is organized around an interior atrium lit during the day by several skylights. This daylighting strategy reduces energy consumption and provides the school with a bright central space for exhibitions, design critiques, lectures, informal gatherings, and other events. The studios and classrooms are arranged around the atrium, visually connected to the commons through window apertures that allow visitors to glimpse the work being done by the students and faculty. The design of the building’s commons also emphasizes the unification of the university’s departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, and the Building and Construction Technology program into one singular facility. In addition to its extensive use of wood products, the architects chose to clad the building with copper-finished aluminum panels that protect the highly-efficient envelope. Though the building fills much of the site, the landscape design by Stephen Stimpson Associates strategically uses native plants and local paving materials to connect the building to the larger campus. In the end, the building cost $52 million to construct, a price tag that was partially funded by Massachusetts State Legislature, and adds 87,500-square-feet of additional interior space to the university. Suffolk was the construction manager.
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Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture will change its name

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture has announced that it will change its name to the School of Architecture at Taliesin. The change comes as the school has worked to restructure and gain financial independence from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The school’s new visual identity was created by Michael Bierut, a partner at New York–based graphic design firm Pentagram. “Adopting this new name, the School of Architecture at Taliesin, helps us to secure our identity as an experimental, forward-looking architecture program that is deeply rooted in the Taliesin Fellowship,” says Aaron Betsky, dean of the School.  “The process in which we developed our new relationship with the Foundation and our accreditors has been an opportunity to closely examine who we are as a school and how to best position ourselves to advance our mission and create quality educational experiences for our students.” As the school gains its independence from the Foundation, a transition that is expected to be complete in August, the school will also undergo a leadership change. Dean Betsky will become the president of the school, and Chris Lasch, the current director of academic affairs, will take over the role of dean. As the new name would imply, the school will continue to run out of Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Both properties are owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and play an important role for both the school and the foundation. “We look at Taliesin and Taliesin West as living laboratories that continue to advance Wright’s principles,” said Foundation President & CEO Stuart Graff. “Seeing the next generation of great architects working and living in these settings is as important to their preservation as maintaining the walls that hold them up.” As reported by The Architect's Newspaper, the school recently passed an important milestone towards its continued accreditation. The Higher Learning Commission approved the Change of Control application needed for the school to become independent from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, a requirement of accreditation.
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Team led by Vargo Nielsen Palle beats BIG, SANAA to design new Aarhus School of Architecture

This article was originally published on ArchDaily as "Team Led by Emerging Architects Vargo Nielsen Palle Beats Out BIG, SANAA in New Aarhus School of Architecture Competition." Competing against a shortlist of internationally acclaimed architects, the team led by newly established practice Vargo Nielsen Palle (in collaboration with ADEPT and Rolvung & Brøndsted Arkitekter) has been selected as the winners of the NEW AARCH competition, which sought designs for several new buildings for the Aarhus School of Architecture and the development of the surrounding area in Aarhus known as Godsbanearealerne. The restricted competition consisted of three invited practices—BIG, SANAA and Lacaton & Vassal—and the three winners of the earlier open qualifying competition, Vargo Nielsen Palle, Erik Giudice Architects, and ALL (Atelier Lorentzen Langkilde). Vargo Nielsen Palle’s proposal was chosen as the unanimous winner. “It is a powerful project that interweaves with its surroundings, Ådalen, the city and the surrounding neighbors in the area,” said the happy rector of Aarhus School of Architecture, Torben Nielsen. “The new school of architecture will be a cultural hub that encourages interaction and dialogue. An open, pragmatic, flexible structure that allows for continuous change and adaptation to changing needs, and which focuses on the future life and activities inside the building. It will be a factory for architectural experimentation that will set the stage for cooperation with the city, the profession and our neighbours—just as we wanted.” The jury had been given the choice of nominating up to three projects to continue into the negotiation process, but found Vargo Nielsen Palle’s proposal to be so compelling, they declared it the sole winner. “[Vargo Nielsen Palle’s entry] provides the most optimal starting point for constructing a new school for Aarhus School of Architecture in terms of architecture, functionality, and economy,” stated the jury in their concluding report. “In terms of scale, the winning project relates well to Carl Blochs Gade and plans the many uses as a ‘city within the city’, where visual contact between the school’s diversified users encourages cooperation and mutual inspiration. The building structure is stepped down in height towards a central urban space that opens up the school towards the city and the neighboring institutions.”

The winning project was conceived as a result of close interdisciplinary cooperation between Vargo Nielsen Palle, ADEPT, Rolvung & Brøndsted Arkitekter, Tri-Consult and Steensen Varming. The development will replace the Aarhus School of Architecture’s outdated premises in the old merchant’s house at Nørreport; originally intended as a ‘temporary’ home, they have been the primary facilities for the school for more than 50 years.

See the full jury report, including designs from the other competing firms, here. Written by Patrick Lynch Archdaily_Collab_1
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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.