Posts tagged with "Architecture Schools":

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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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Sonia Hirt named dean of University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

The University of Maryland has named Dr. Sonia A. Hirt to be the next dean of its School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She will take over for David Cronrath, who became dean in July 2010. This marks the first time a woman has been named to lead the school, which is located on the University’s College Park campus, close to Washington, D. C. Hirt will officially assume her role in October 1. “Dr. Hirt’s leadership skills and more than a decade of experience teaching and researching in the fields of architecture and urban planning make her the perfect candidate for this role,” said Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. “I am enthusiastic about the future of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation under the leadership of Dr. Hirt.” Hirt will join the University of Maryland from Virginia Tech, where she most recently served as professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. In that role, Dr. Hirt oversaw academic affairs across the College’s four schools, reported on all aspects of the College’s performance, set diversity goals and strategies, and coordinated alignment of the College’s academic programs with university priorities. She previously held positions as chair, director, associate professor and assistant professor of Urban Affairs and Planning in the School of Public and International Affairs.
“I am thoroughly excited and deeply honored to join the Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation,” she said, “The school’s accomplishments are known nationally and internationally. What I find especially compelling is the unique integration of the school’s four core fields—architecture, urban studies and planning, historic preservation, and real estate development—in a way that is intellectually coherent and thoughtfully centered on the notion of sustainability. The School has the potential to make (and remake) the world, literally speaking, one building, one development, one neighborhood, one community, and one city at a time. It will be an extraordinary privilege to serve a community of faculty, students and staff of such rare and incredible talent.” Before joining Virginia Tech, Hirt was a visiting associate professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in the Department of Urban Planning and Design; an assistant professor at University of Toledo in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences’ Department of Geography and Planning; and an instructor at the University of Michigan’s Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning. In her research, she has explored three main themes: comparative urban form with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe; comparative urban planning and land-use regulation with a focus on Europe and the United States; and urban planning and design theory and history.  Her recent book, Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land Use Regulation, has received several honors. They include being named to Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Titles List in 2016 and Planetizen’s Ten Best Books in Urban Planning, Design, and Development in 2016. It was received the Urban Affairs Association’s Honorable Mention for the Best Book Award in 2015.
An earlier book by Hirt, Iron Curtains: Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space in the Post-socialist City, received the Honorable Mention for the Book Prize in Political and Social Studies sponsored by Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Hirt is the Co-editor of the Journal of Planning History and serves on the editorial boards of four other journals: Current Research on Cities, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, Planning Practice & Research, and Urban Design International.She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan, and her B.A. from the University of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Sofia, Bulgaria.
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Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts to ban use of styrene in models

Styrene is commonly found in polystyrene foam (styrofoam), a material used for making models and maquettes. In 2014, styrene had been "reasonably anticipated" to be a "human carcinogen" by the National Research Council and now the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis plans to ban its use by next fall. Styrene is also found ABS and even rubber, though it's toxicity in these compounds is still up for debate. As news of polystyrene's hazardous potential spreads however, schools and even cities have started to ban the substance. As reported the university's independent newspaper Student Life, "As of June 2015, cities in 10 different states have officially banned styrene with three others considering to follow suit." New York was one of those cities, banning EPS (Expanding Polystyrene Foam) due the how difficult it can be to recycle. "These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. We have better options," said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio back in June last year. The ban was later overturned. With regards the compound's environmental impact, propylene has subsequently surfaced as a viable alternative. The material is inexpensive and easy to work with, however, when used for model-making styrene has a tendency to be inhaled. This is especially the case when particles enter the air after being melted or laser cut. The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry outline the consequences of inhalation listing nausea, respiratory problems and in some cases liver damage. The full list of health defects post styrene exposure can be found here and here. Sophomore student Eve Bobrow spoke of her experience with styrene exposure to student life. “When everyone is using it, you could definitely feel a difference in the air,” she said in Student Life. “Sometimes I have to leave studio because I get such bad headaches. There were even times where I felt like I had chronic headaches because everyone was using styrene for their final models.” Fellow sophomore Kevin He said how despite being in his second year at Sam Fox, the issues styrene can cause were never fully detailed. “When I came into the art school, the professors just told us that styrene was dangerous, but never told us about all the problems with it,” he said. “We never had a safety tutorial. I learned how to use styrene through trial and error and out of all the materials we use here, styrene puts us in the most amount of danger.”
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Elizabeth Danze appointed interim dean at UT Austin School of Architecture

                                          Elizabeth Danze, FAIA, will take over the University of Texas at Austin's School of Architecture as Interim Dean. Her previous roles at the school include associate dean of graduate programs, professor, and associate dean of undergraduate programs. She's an alumna of the University of Texas at Austin's School of Architecture and the Yale School of Architecture. Danze co-edited the book Architecture and Feminism. She has also authored CENTER 17: Space and Psyche and Psychoanalysis and Architecture (volume 33 of The Annual of Psychoanalysis). The school's former dean, Frederick “Fritz” Steiner, left his post earlier this year due in large part to new state laws that would permit licensed students, faculty, staff, and visitors to carry concealed guns into campus buildings. These new rules go into effect as of August 1, 2016. Steiner has moved to the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Design, where he will start as Dean on July 1, 2016.                
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Texas gun laws prompts Fritz Steiner, dean of UT Austin's architecture school, to decamp for Penn

Shots fired! Fritz Steiner, the University of Texas at Austin's architecture dean, says that he is leaving his post because of the state's new campus carry laws. Under Steiner, the UT-Austin architecture school has ranked among the best in the country. According to The Texas Tribune, Steiner said that "I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry. I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn't believe in." What's Texas's loss is Pennsylvania's gain:  When the University of Pennsylvania School of Design approached him last semester about an opening, Steiner was receptive. On July 1, Steiner will become dean of University of Pennsylvania School of Design. For the past 20 years, it's been perfectly legal to carry concealed guns onto campus, but not into campus buildings. Although new campus carry laws were ratified last year, the laws don't go into effect until the first of August. In a state with some of the nation's most liberal gun laws, it's worth noting that the new law does not allow open carry on campus; students, faculty, staff, or visitors must have a handgun license; and the gun owner must be 21 or older. Public universities are allowed to create some limited "gun-free zones," but those zones can't include classrooms. Students for Concealed Carry, a campus group that supports gun rights, criticized Steiner, stating that, essentially, the only thing to fear is fear [of the law] itself. For his part, Steiner is looking forward to returning to the institution from which he earned three degrees: "Penn is a great institution and I am very happy to go to Penn, but I was approached ... and, if it wouldn't have been for campus carry, I wouldn't have considered it."
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Students given more flexibility with architectural programming by NCARB

In what is good news for architecture students across the country, the names of the first 13 accredited architectural programs to be accepted for participation in the the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Integrated Path Initiative has been announced. The scheme aims to give students more flexibility in terms of their architecture courses. The news signals the success of NCARB’s Licensure Task Force's (LTF) two-year plan to allow students to have academic flexibility within the program while still adhering to the requirements needed to gain architectural licensing. The proposal by NCARB was covered earlier in the year by AN. NCARB has formed a new Integrated Path Evaluation Committee (IPEC) to monitor the initiative. IPEC is also expected to continually "coach accepted programs, promote engagement with jurisdictional licensing boards regarding necessary law or rule changes to incorporate integrated path candidates, and oversee the acceptance of future program applicants." These 13 accepted schools comprise a range of accredited B.Arch and M.Arch programs and are split between public and private institutions. The accepted schools are: —Boston Architectural College; Boston, Massachusetts —Clemson University; Clemson, South Carolina —Drexel University; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania —Lawrence Technological University; Southfield, Michigan —NewSchool of Architecture and Design; San Diego, California —North Carolina State University; Raleigh, North Carolina —Portland State University; Portland, Oregon —Savannah College of Art and Design; Savannah, Georgia —University of Cincinnati; Cincinnati, Ohio —University of Detroit Mercy; Detroit, Michigan —University of North Carolina-Charlotte; Charlotte, North Carolina —University of Southern California; Los Angeles, California —Woodbury University; Los Angeles, California “Each of these programs has impressed our Licensure Task Force with their creativity, commitment to maintaining their NAAB-accreditation, and desire to provide a conduit for students who choose a rigorous path that will enrich both the academic and experience elements of architectural licensure,” said NCARB President and LTF Members.  
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Martha Thorne is the new dean of Madrid's IE School of Architecture and Design

On September 4th, IE University in Madrid announced Martha Thorne as the new Dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design. School leaders anticipate that her knowledge of the international architecture and design worlds will further IE's mission of training forward-thinking designers and architects. Previously, Thorne served as the Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize. From 1996 to 2005, she acted as the Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Thorne has authored and edited numerous books and articles, including The Pritzker Architecture Prize: The First Twenty Years and Skyscrapers: The New MillenniumThorne received her Master of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Urban Affairs from SUNY Buffalo.
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NCARB rolls out new program that could allow architecture students to get ahead in their licensure process

As thousands of architecture students prepare to head back to school, August marks yet another step toward an easier path to licensure for aspiring architects. NCARB recently accepted proposals from over a dozen accredited architecture schools implementing a more "integrated path to licensure within academic programs accredited by the NAAB." The so-called Integrated Path Initiative encourages NAAB-accredited programs to suggests approaches that could potentially result in completing Intern Development Program (IDP) requirements and begin taking the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) all before graduation day. Passing all ARE divisions before graduation is not required. The proposals, which were received back in June, were reviewed by the NCARB Licensure Task Force (LTF), composed of interns/recently licensed architects, state licensing board members and executives, academic deans and instructors, and non-architect public members as well as individuals representing the AIA, the AIAS, the ACSA, and the NAAB. Each school will receive feedback from the NCARB on "how their proposal is or could become acceptable before releasing the names of the accepted programs." NCARB also notes that all programs that submitted proposals will be coached towards the next steps including modifications necessary to move forward."With concerns about keeping the pipeline flush with new architects replacing the retiring generation, this initiative assures we are responding to interested students and maintaining our standards," said NCARB president Dennis Ward.
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ARO, KieranTimberlake, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam make shortlist for Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis on Monday announced the three finalists competing to design a new building for its Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The three teams vying to design Annabeth & John Weil Hall are: Architecture Research Office (ARO), KieranTimberlake, and Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects. The building is part of the university's arts and architecture campus, a collection of limestone-clad structures ranging from Beaux Arts style structures dating to the St. Louis world's fair of 1904 to more modern additions by Fumihiko Maki. The Sam Fox School campus is visually set apart from the university's predominantly Collegiate Gothic Danforth Campus.   No renderings or specific timelines are available yet, but a previous announcement of the project said the university aimed to complete construction within the next five years. The new building is part of the university's 10–15 strategic “Design for Excellence” campus plan. New York City–based ARO has designed academic buildings for universities including Tulane, Brown, and Princeton, as well as renovations to Donald Judd's home and studio in Soho. KieranTimberlake has worked with Yale, Rice, and Tulane universities. In the firm's home base of Philadelphia, it has helped revamp Dilworth Park with architectural greenhouses serving as entrances to the city's subway system. Atlanta's Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects count among its higher education clients Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Clemson universities, and the firm was shortlisted to design a new U.S. embassy in Beirut (that job ultimately went to Morphosis). As part of the selection process, each firm will deliver a public presentation in Washington University's Steinberg Auditorium, an early building by Maki dating to 1960 when he was a professor at the university. The event dates are: Monday, March 23, 1:15p.m: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects Monday, March 23, 4p.m: KieranTimberlake Tuesday, March 24, 1:15p.m: Architecture Research Office (ARO)
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Kent State Picks Weiss/Manfredi to Design New Architecture School

Marking the end of a design competition for the new home of its College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Kent State University has chosen Weiss/Manfredi’s “Design Loft” over submissions from Bialosky & Partners of Cleveland with Architecture Research Office of New York; The Collaborative of Toledo with Miller Hull Partnership of Seattle; and Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland. The college is moving from three separate buildings including Taylor Hall, where it has been for decades, and which served as a gathering spot for the 1970 Vietnam War protest that would end in four deaths. Kent State University has one of Ohio’s four architecture schools, and the site of its new home is intended to engage the greater community of Kent. During a public forum at KSU in January, Michael Manfredi called the design “a three-dimensional diorama,” connecting studio life to the outside at all times with continuous sightlines from one studio to the next. “The idea is that there really is no such thing as a circulation space, but always a place of interaction,” Marion Weiss said. The team said they were investigating adjustable shading controls for the stepped glass box design. Richard L. Bowen & Associates of Cleveland will be the architect of record.  
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Top of the Glass: Students Design Shimmering Pavilion At USC

Once again the courtyards at the USC School of Architecture are bubbling with installations as part of the second-year 2b studio, in which several teams of undergraduate students design and build structures in a very short period of time. Perhaps the most striking is the shimmering pavilion created by the 14-student class of professor Roland Wahlroos-Ritter. The studio focused  on glass' structural, reflective, and refractive qualities. All of those attributes are apparent in the installation, in which 800 translucent and triangular polycarbonate pieces (actual glass was deemed too expensive and time-consuming) were folded like origami and zip-tied together. Each piece was drilled with several holes and inserted with vinyl tubing to reinforce the connections. In fact, the model for the structure was made with paper, then translated into its new, highly refractive form. The installation was brought to the site in five segments and then pieced together on site. The students see this as a 1:1 prototype for a future pavilion to be built in glass.