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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Educating the Future Architect?

An interesting outlook on Architectural education from Design Intelligence:

November 5, 2009
Thinking Ahead: Educating Now for the Profession of the Future
Renée Cheng

Climate change, data-driven technology, and global practice have already radically increased the demands on the architecture profession. New opportunities present the potential to expand the scope of design thinking to address broad social needs. Architectural education must find ways not only to meet the demands of the current era but also inspire future leaders. For educators, our mandate should be to teach students to lead a profession that does not yet exist.

Most current architectural curricula are not well positioned to accept this responsibility. Open up a course plan for almost any graduate professional program and you will find a curriculum divided neatly into two sequential pieces: a core foundation covers the initial requirements before entering a second “open-option” or elective segment (Figure 1a). In both core and elective semesters, the structure is fairly consistent — each semester contains one heavily weighted design studio with two or three lecture or seminar classes (Figure 2a). These lectures and seminars are sometimes called “support” or “non-studio” classes, terms meant to denote a format other than the open-ended lateral design processes that are the hallmarks of the design studio.

Overtly, subtly, or unintentionally, there is a value system embedded in this structure. Students get the message: Spend your time on design studios before non-studio courses and invest in elective studios most of all. Often, prestigious visiting practitioners and digitally facile faculty teach the elective studios while core studios are the realm of traditionally trained faculty and local adjunct practitioners. A typical core studio will have a local site, a known project type, and may require a wall section. Elective studios can be site-less, scale-less, or free from the constraints of gravity. While this may be impractical, these studios serve a purpose to invite speculation, imagine futures, and develop new ways of thinking of the world... Continue Reading...