Transforming Design Education
by AIA Director of Education Catherine Roussel, AIA
As evident in the “Transforming Design Education” article, AIA members and related professionals—both educators and practitioners—are working together to design the change between the professional curriculum of fall 2009 and the professional curriculum of today. There is more than one answer to this question.
On the one hand we are asking about changes that can be implemented immediately and on the other hand we are thinking longer term. The changes that are made to the NAAB requirements for accreditation in 2008 will affect schools and students through 2015 and longer into the future.
You can refer to the results of the Oak Park conference on integrated practice and consider some ideas from the Pomona conference on Sustainability in Architecture and Higher Education on what we could do differently:
"It is time to reevaluate the studio custom in most schools of starting with small and simple projects and advancing to ever larger and more complex ones. Usually, as students become more capable, the projects become proportionally more comprehensive and difficult. The result is that students often become progressively more skillful at making diagrams of shape and layout with increasing degrees of showiness, but not always with a deeper penetration of how the thing really works. Such an approach works against sustainability in architecture. What about delving progressively deeper instead of bigger, at least part of the time?"—Ralph Knowles, professor emeritus, ACSA Distinguished Professor, University of Southern California, School of Architecture, Los Angeles
This proposition might also work for integrated practice. Students would learn from the beginning to work collaboratively with partners from various disciplines essential to a successful project.
Similarly, a practitioner writes:
"Students should be exposed to working with associated disciplines (landscape, planning, and engineering), to bring forth the most current thinking in related fields, in a collaborative and thought provoking forum. Ideally, this would be in a studio environment to foster more in-depth solutions to complex problems."—Anne Schopf, FAIA, Mahlum Architects, Seattle
Another suggestion is to teach students about materials and structures early on in the curriculum so they are thinking of design as they will in integrated practice. Is it just a question of sequence or more about integration of these subjects into the studio?
To learn more about the AIA Educator/Practitioner Network, visit their site on AIA.org.
What do you think?