As of last week, all my studios were completed, final reviews concluded, grades entered, and the end of the 2020 spring semester came to a virtual close. It was an interesting ride, to say the least. I think for many of my students it may have been the most difficult time of their educational career. Considering how stressful this time has been for many of us as professionals, I can understand the difficulty for my students. Many had trouble staying motivated, were stressed about the uncertainty of the time, or felt that the world was imploding. All understandable for a person at this age and time in their life. But now that it is completed, I can say that the majority of my students managed to get it all together and create some commendable work. While I think the ability to instruct students virtually lacked a bit of the critical interaction available from face to face instruction, I feel that the students managed favorably and hopefully still gained the understanding and lessons intended from the semester’s work.
So I wanted to have a showcase of sorts for the work that was completed. I am sharing some of the work that was created by my students this semester. I will also share the project prompt for the project that I provided the students. I was the studio instructor for 2 classes this semester, a second-semester freshmen level course and a second-semester third-year course. So here we go.
This project was the third project of the semester for these young designers. After all the post spring break turmoil, this project turned out to be about a 4.5 week long exercise. It was originally intended to be a project based on building physical models in multiple iterations but moved to a digital format. The students were told to get Sketchup and had to learn the software while also creating the project. This was a bit of a continuation of the second project and a bit of the first. The first project of the semester was a case study project to help them understand spatial arrangements, context, and other basic principles. The second project was a study of sectional space and how to create a progression of space. The final result of that project was a physical section model.
PROJECT PROMPT: Iterations of Space + Form + Object
“I believe that architecture, as anything else in life, is evolutionary. Ideas evolve: they don’t come from outer space and crash onto the drawing board.” – Bjarke Ingels
In our first project, we explored existing works of architecture as precedent. In the second, we investigated the relationships of interiors sectional space.
The study and creation of sectional spaces is paramount to the ability to create meaningful architecture. The translation of section into form and plan is the next step in the process of architectural design. The ability to translate the section and allow it to evolve through the design process while still maintaining the essence and qualities established in that section is critical to substantial architecture. A designer must be willing to modify their design as it progresses from one interpretation to another essential method of representation. For example, moving from section design to form/object design and plan design. How does one follow the aspirations of the section while creating form, plan, and program that fulfills the requirements of both the architecture and the meaning?
This project began with the end product from the students’ previous project and intends to modify that work into a different interpretation. This new interpretation as a form is then crafted into many iterations to satisfy the needs of the object. The final step is a translation back into sectional space.
Third Year Studio
This was a semester-long project. The original hope was to progress this project into structural and mechanical systems but due to the situation, we came up a bit short. So the projects are at varying degrees of progress towards that goal. Some of the students made it into structural investigations. None of them were able to make it to mechanical systems investigations. That was a casualty of the pandemic it seems. The project consisted of several phases; case studies, programming exercises, code assessment, site analysis, and building design. The students had to compile a semester project portfolio consisting of all the information from the semester and their design solution. These ranged from 35-60 pages depending on the student.
PROJECT PROMPT: 2030 Center for Architecture Studies
“Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.” – Louis Kahn
The design of educational facilities is a large market within the field of architecture. The world of education and learning continues to evolve based on newly developing technologies and we should be preparing for future technologies. Architecture education is special in its programmatic elements and the needs for space. This project is meant to be an expansion of the current Texas A&M Dept. of Architecture. It will be considered as a “remote” location meant to supplement the currently over-occupied Langford Complex. As you have been a student of architecture for a few years now, you should have a multitude of ideas for improving your learning environment.
How do we create an environment that supports various types of learning and also is adaptable for the future? How can design foster learning, problem-solving, and creativity? How can facility design provide confidence, security, and integration into the “outside” world? How can educational design create a positive and lasting impact on students and the community? How can you plan for technologies that are not yet in existence? What is the learning space of the future?
Below are some selections from student work for this project. Each of the images below came from a separate student project. These were individual student’s work and not group work. I really try to push my students to produce a great deal of work. I think I may even do more so at the upper levels. In the end, I hope they gain some insight into aspects of creating architecture that moves a beyond conceptual to some extent. While I do not want to overstress “reality” I do want students to think about the realities that are part of every project regardless of its pragmatic nature. While we may be moving there in the future at the moment issues like gravity cannot be escaped. Materials have thicknesses and limitations. Glass only behaves in certain ways. Those are the types of realities I try to keep in mind.
So I just wanted to share what my students were able to accomplish during this strange semester their college studies. While I do not think this is Avant-garde, envelope-pushing work, I do think it is sound work with the potential to improve and grow. I find that the biggest challenge that today’s students face is the ability to convey their ideas both graphically and verbally. This is something I really try to emphasize in my studios as much as I can. Time is always the biggest limitation with regard to creativity and production. Sometimes I am able to hit that mark with students and other times I may miss it. Definitely, as I continue this new journey I hope to always hit more than I miss.
Until next time,