Studio Culture Policy
At UCLA Architecture and Urban Design the design studio is not only the heart of our formal curriculum of architectural study, it is also a space where our academic mission intersects with the social and cultural phenomena that surround architectural education.
The following is the latest version of the faculty’s work to assess our studio culture, ways to improve it in the near term, and means by which this policy’s effectiveness can be monitored and updated.
Our faculty and students are committed to the continuation of the studio-centric model of architectural education. Our goals are to foment the spirit of lively discourse, to support the diversity of opinions and outlooks within our field, to create an environment that is conducive to the development of a strong work ethic, and to engage, as much as possible, a wider audience with regard to the dissemination of our research and production.
With a wide variety of backgrounds, the members of our creative community constitute a rich, intellectually diverse group. We place enormous value and respect in the unique perspective of each individual, and these diverse and complex experiences enhance our collective academic environment. All members of our community will conduct themselves with the highest ethical principles and regard for others.
Studio Attendance / Work
Beyond dutifully reporting for studio hours, students are encouraged to spend as much time as possible in studio. Studio is offered as a collective, open environment for the sharing of ideas and opinions among both faculty and students, a crucial element in the personal development of each member of our community. This world of dialogue can only be fostered through a critical mass of energy, both during and beyond studio hours. Students’ participation in this community is as crucial to the success of their colleagues as it is to their own.
We maintain that the best work is produced in an atmosphere of curiosity, communication, and introspection, coupled with seriousness and respect for both the physical and intellectual conditions of the studio. Each student is encouraged to be organized, thoughtful, and motivated by this atelier-like setting, treating it and all within it as they would in a professional architectural studio. All drawings, models, books, computers, and any other such artifacts or tools in the studio are to be produced, used, or maintained with the utmost care.
Studio Content / The Fundamental and the Experimental
In the development of the core curriculum, and in the offering of advanced research in the final year’s studios, close attention should be paid to the particular content of each studio, especially as it reflects our mission to educate students with the most innovative tools, techniques, and concepts available today. Faculty are expected to teach the core fundamentals of the discipline and the conventions of representation but at the same time, it is imperative that they also urge students to work toward the expansion of those very limits. This blending of the technical expertise of architecture with an experimental and conceptual approach demands both a rigor of teaching method and a willingness on the part of the student to think equally rigorously. Course material presented should be based on subject matter that reflects a keen understanding of both historical and contemporary issues and how they relate to the architectural problem at hand.
A Collaborative Approach
Due to its scale and complexity, architecture is understood to be a field that benefits from all forms of collaborative effort. The design studio should promote collaborative learning experiences by developing both research and design components using team building and collective scenarios that reflect the profession’s reliance on cooperation. In addition, studios should continue to encourage the active engagement of other disciplines both from within the UCLA community and from the wider professional community such as corporations, institutions, and civic agencies.
Students and faculty are urged to seek opportunities to work together more closely on issues that affect UCLA Architecture and Urban Design and the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture, its curriculum, policies, and programs (exhibitions, lectures, publications, etc). Where possible, studios are encouraged to undertake collaborative research or projects with interdisciplinary programs or centers such as cityLAB-UCLA, xLAB or the Urban Humanities Initiative.
The boundary-free proximity of most studios in Perloff Hall facilitates joint studio events, both formal and informal. These events help to keep individual design studios engaged with the larger studio collective and expand the breadth of investigation. Beyond group reviews set up between studios in the core years, faculty are encouraged to invite colleagues from other levels and disciplines (within the department) to deliver mini-lectures or conversations on diverse topics for their respective students. These smaller studio-to-studio “events” introduce students, within the context of their studio setting, to new material and ideas that may inspire new conversations and new avenues of research. Both student and school benefit, as faculty also learn from colleagues outside of the conventional formats of pin ups and reviews. Research topics or problems of interest to the whole school, such as the study for a new building, are sometimes organized as all-school charrettes, with teams formed from different years. Such events would be intense and brief, typically concluding with an all-school presentation, exhibition, or even publication of the work.
Students are expected to understand the value of working in-studio, as well as the importance of etiquette to ensure a respectful, civil working environment. In terms of communication and common discourse, everyone should listen, consider, and respond with respect to others and their ideas. Respectful debate is at the heart of education and it should be held within generous and supportive conditions.
In terms of building facilities, students should be considerate of their classmates, and of others in the building. Individual and shared work spaces should be kept clean and organized as well as digital folders of work. Circulation spaces used for casual exhibition of work should be shared with all studios and pinned up with care in consultation with respective faculty. Support facilities such as the shop, resource room, seminar and review spaces, and computer labs should be scheduled for use ahead of time where necessary and should be left in a clean condition. At the end of each quarter, students are responsible for removing from the studios everything they have brought into the building.
As architecture is a demanding, time-consuming curriculum, it is necessary for students to quickly develop an understanding of time management relative to workloads and deadlines. With a clear understanding of course requirements and expectations, students will be better equipped to deal with the factor of time across each quarter. To accomplish this, faculty must arrive to studio on time and be prepared with course material and instruction that is appropriate to the scope of work at hand. In addition, faculty should provide a detailed weekly schedule and the advice on how to wisely spend time during the design process. Students are urged to avoid working continuously through the night as it leads to physical and mental exhaustion.
Process / Critiques
Work done in studio is understood to be cumulative, not entirely focused on the outcome of the final review. It is imperative for students to understand that continuous production is central to the development of conceptual and technical skills. Faculty should stress the value of preliminary studies produced for intermediate pin ups and weekly desk crits. These one-on-one critiques give students a chance for close inspection and discussion of their work with faculty and are often set up through voluntary lists or scheduled meetings in studio. Students are expected to be prepared with all necessary information and questions prior to the desk crit. Pin-ups may involve all or a few of the students, but are intended to create an open, informal forum for students and faculty to discuss projects.
The Review Process
Throughout the quarter, each studio will schedule mid-term and final reviews that are intended to create benchmarks for the completion of work, and more importantly, to offer each student feedback that is critical to their development as designers. These reviews are to be regarded not only as the culmination of 10 weeks of work, but also as a chance for students to demonstrate and improve upon the verbal and graphic skills they use to present their work. With a panel of invited critics, students have the opportunity to receive and process educated opinions about their work. Moreover, students and faculty are encouraged to discuss the content of the reviewer observations in group and individual settings in order to further elaborate on divergent viewpoints and possible ways to interpret / incorporate this feedback.
All faculty are required to stage formal reviews in a public setting so that the work and the discussion has the maximum amount of exposure and impact within the department. Students are required to attend, present, and participate in all design reviews organized by their instructor. Students are encouraged to participate judiciously in reviews and when not engaged in their own, are also urged to sit in on those of other studios.
RUMBLE, our year-end student exhibition / review / celebration was instituted in 2008 as an event that would bring together all of the studio final reviews of the spring quarter on a single day. All faculty and students collaborate on an installation of the studio’s work in designated spaces throughout the building. This event coalesces the work of the studios and allows all members of the community to gain a complete, comprehensive overview of our work at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design. It is UCLA’s mission to engage a wide audience with its research and to present it in a compelling format. Students and faculty are expected to conduct themselves in a committed, passionate, open, supportive, and respectful way during public reviews of student work.
UCLA Architecture and Urban Design is a community within the larger community of UCLA School of Arts and Architecture as well as the wider University, Los Angeles, California, and the world. It should be recognized that the work and actions of the members of our community reflect the integrity of the larger community at each level and that there is a mutual responsibility to create an environment of trust, respect and comfort for all members of the community. Members of this community should not engage in unfavorable behavior that undermines the ethics of the community or of individuals within it. Instead, complaints, concerns and dissatisfactions of either students or faculty should be dealt with openly and with the appropriate administrative personnel.
Studio Culture Policy Evaluation, Progress, and Implementation
To ensure the effectiveness and implementation of the Studio Culture Policy—as well as to create the opportunity to amend or change policies outlined therein—the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design Studio Culture Policy will undergo review every two years by the Studio Culture Task Force and the Student Representatives from each year. The Task Force will meet regularly with the Chair, generally at least once per Quarter, to discuss issues surrounding Studio programs and circumstances. Periodically, the Studio Culture Policy will also be reviewed in an open forum that invites the participation of all students and faculty members.