Applications in Cross-Curriculum Teaching The Synthesis of the Design Studio and Building Technology Seminar


  • John Enright
    University of Southern California
Vol. 6 No. 1 (2009)
Research Articles
September 25, 2012


"Change or perish. You need to prepare yourself for a profession that you are notgoing to recognize a decade from now.”Thom Mayne, Remarks on building information modeling at the 2005 AIAConvention, Las Vegas, NV

Today architects are faced with new challenges involving Integrated Project Delivery and associated digital technologies that are rapidly changing the way architects work. Collaboration is the key to this newway of working as architects discover that the management of buildinginformation requires new skills and methods in design.

How do educators respond to this call? How do we prepare a futuregeneration of architects to thrive within a rapidly changing profession?

Given these new models for project delivery currently being utilized by theprofession, a new pair of courses was created at the Southern CaliforniaInstitute of Architecture (SCI_Arc) for the integration of the designcurricula with a building technology course by emphasizing teamworkand the use of three-dimensional software. The aim was to develop newskill-sets for students while maintaining a deep understanding of designand built form. Educators have long struggled with traditional architectural curricula that inherently separate design and technology courses. This bifurcation, often times convenient and useful for the organization of aschool and curriculum, is of course at odds with the "comprehensive” nature of architectural education that is so strived for in most programs.

This paper serves to show examples of an attempt to address this seriousissue within the first professional graduate school curriculum (3 1/2 yearM.ARCH) by bridging both the second year design and technology classesover a two semester span. The goals of the two courses were; to bridgethe gap between design and technology pedagogy, develop collaborativetools for students, investigate a comprehensive understanding of theintegration of building systems, and to finally produce a set of documentsthat demonstrate this ability and use appropriate three-dimensionalsoftware to facilitate the investigation.

It is helpful to set the stage on the importance of this shift of educational methodology by outlining first the context of the current environment bothwithin the profession and the academic realms. Finally, I will attempt toreflect on the methods employed and analyze the pros and cons of theendeavor and discuss possible improvements.