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Academics

Winter 2024 Courses

Each quarter, UCLA Architecture and Urban Design offers a range of courses and studios that situate, solidify, enrich, and inspire students' design skills and perspectives. Below, please browse AUD's offering of Winter 2024 courses and studios, with full descriptions and syllabi available for AUD students and faculty via BruinLearn.

Please note: This page is actively being updated and subject to change; please revisit for updates and additions. Last updated January 16, 2024.

Winter 2024 Courses and Studios, in brief

AUD Students and Faculty: Please visit BruinLearn for full syllabi and descriptions

Description coming soon

This undergraduate-level seminar explores an ordinary object with extraordinary influence: the American house. It posits that the American house has alternately served as a site for the reproduction and resistance of dominant value systems, from the colonization of North America to the globalization of credit markets. It asks questions such as: How has the house affected the transformation of land from physical asset to abstract potential? and How has its assessed value reflected and reinforced state-sanctioned mechanisms of social control?

This seminar aims to introduce undergraduate students to new and essential scholarship, hone methodological approaches, and survey United States history by interrogating the nation’s landscape as a terrain of diverse moral, political, social, and aesthetic objects in which people live and work.

This seminar proceeds (more or less) chronologically and thematically across key historical developments. We start by looking at the European colonization of North America, asking how English, Spanish, and French conceptions of property supplanted indigenous land systems and influenced American settlement patterns (1785–1862). We then examine the United States’ association of property value with residential security, asking how the financial architecture of the detached single-family home exacerbated class, gender, and racial inequalities and contributed to urban segregation (1862–1933). We end by looking at moral reckonings with national housing policy, asking how we might challenge existing paradigms of ownership and domesticity (1933–present).

Although rooted in architecture, the topics cross academic disciplines—including but not limited to American studies, urban planning, political economy, law, philosophy, and literature—to provide us with various lenses of inquiry. Similarly, the authors span time periods and geographies to help us engage with discourse and social change.

Description coming soon

This course functions as an anthology of housing histories from the 1850s to the present. As such, it offers a comprehensive albeit necessarily incomplete bibliography dealing with relevant case studies from around the world. Technology, finance, property, law, morals, labor, class, gender, race - there is virtually no aspect or controversy tied to modernization that hasn't acquired form in the category of "housing" since the popularization of the word in the nineteenth century. With an eye to the present, the purpose of the course is to identify ways in which architecture - including its main actors, pedagogies, and techniques - has interacted with these processes. Rather than treating housing as a category belonging unilaterally to architecture, we will scrutinize the contingent role of architecture in the broader aggregate of agencies building (or un-building) housing.

Thick-Skinned looks at the scattered parking structures across Los Angeles that support its automotive lifestyle and re-questions their façade design by proposing a thick-skinned structure that inhabits program. Learning from maximalist designers, we will work with artificial intelligence (AI) models to speculate on the possible three-dimensional skins that will be added onto the building. We dive into the work of aesthetics through the writings of Sianne Ngai and speculate on spatializing an image through the writings of Karsten Harries on the Rococo. We then scrutinize Robin Evans’ translation of drawings into buildings and adapt it to our contemporary architectural image culture. The goal of this studio is to learn new techniques of designing through image making, and introduces students to construction systems and materials in relation to design.

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This seminar begins with the premise that land is not a surface—it is a set of social and political-economic relations, a way of defining our relationship to one another and to our nonhuman neighbors. Against a modernist notion of land as an empty, dividable surface upon which to place architectural forms, the seminar views land as a living cultural inscription that indexes and figures these changing relationships on the ground. Land’s long and contested past reveals how struggles over its ownership, classification, use, management, and meaning have arguably been, and continue to be, the most decisive factor in the making of our modern world.

The seminar posits that the way we read land—our land literacy—not only shapes the way we interpret and design it, but reflects how we live with one another. After cultivating our land literacy through frameworks of technology, law, and labor, we will examine tools and techniques of inscription—enclosure and property; border and settlement; survey and empire; soil and agriculture; minerals and extraction; infrastructure and industry. We conclude by considering how landmarks and the stories they embody shape ideas about our collective past and future as we live on increasingly unstable land.

“You say to brick, ‘What do you want, brick?’ Brick says to you, ‘I like an arch.’ If you say to brick, ‘Arches are expensive, and I can use a concrete lintel over an opening. What do you think of that, brick?’ Brick says, ‘I like an arch.” Louis Kahn, 1971

The exploration of the historical context of systems of tectonic aggregation has provided valuable
insights into the evolution of architecture, as it adapts to shifts in culture, technology, and society. It has also underlined the interrelation between architectural language and the pragmatic aspects of building construction. However, the creative possibilities inherent in these systems have historically been assumed to be effortlessly embedded as functional constructs, undermining the genuine opportunities for the expressive potential of architectural form.

When it comes to brick, the notion of aggregation itself is not the aim, but a given. Furthermore,
playing only with aggregation leads to an old version of so-called “digital tectonics”, which the class very much would like to avoid. Rather, we will be using the possibilities of hypothetically
intervening in the manufacturing, crafting, placement, assembly and construction as a way to elicit not radically new ideas, but rather small ripples, subtle disruptions to the norm and yet, maybe, powerful prototypes of architecture.

Description coming soon

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This course will consider the role of industry in architecture's history. Lectures will be thematic and roughly chronological. The aim of the class is to consder the persistent gap between these two forms of knowledge - industrial and architectural - as itself having history. Therefore, the course assumes a skeptical attitude toward a synthesis of architecture and industry. Still, as industrial culture establishes work as the ubiquitious experience of modern life, the more it becomes the core motivator for defining future forms of architecture.

For 30 years, Mark Fisher reimagined the role of the rock concert as a cultural phenomenon. His architecture employed powerful visual signifiers and symbolic codes to transform the identities of bands such as U2, Pink Floyd, and the Rolling Stones. While his work often operated within a highly commercial sphere, it transcended the conventional role of a mere performance stage. His designs could be seen as a mass branding exercise, captivating the audience entirely through imagery and sound.

His siteless architecture, often regarded as staged architecture, would feel like a new temporal territory. These ephemeral spectacles would be a triggering force for tribal events; his audiences would meld into collective consciousness during each concert, becoming emotionally and physically invested as the performances raged. His work would often subvert or be a parody of taste; his aim was to construct a realm of novelty. This acted as the main economic driving force of his designs.

During the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, the rock concert was a place where people could
reconnect with the real, a form of cultural escapism for the masses, escaping the clutches of the new digital era. Given the nature of his work, Fisher can be seen as one of the few architects who truly addressed the aspect of time. During a performance, never for a moment would his constructs of branding, scaffolding, and fire sit dormant. Often acting as monsters within their open-air arenas, moving in a precise orchestra with the band in tow, hitting its notes in unison as the crowds would yell in joy.

The translation of identity into ephemeral forms of staged architecture, akin to Fisher’s design process in the 20th century, has now penetrated new commercial realms. Previously confined to touring concert circuits, these forms of scenography are now evident in the realms of art and fashion, among others. Concerts today have new levels of audience synchronicity, not only does the architecture need to stimulate the physical body, it needs to be able to transcend to the digital sphere. The spectacle needs to be read within the confines of social media even more so then the physical event itself.

In this seminar, students will be tasked with addressing the connection between identity and architecture through a staged performance. Each student will be asked to dissect, discern, and understand a specific artist, musician or fashion house, documenting their aesthetics, symbolism,
mood, materiality, and sequencing. Through this research, students will form groups, creating design teams consisting of prop designers, lighters and cinematographers. These teams will then begin constructing a short narrative and storyboard for their performances, projecting the mood and emotions found within their chosen artists or brands’ work onto the scénographies they are designing.

The final output will be a 2 to 5-minute animated film, virtual reality, or game performance constructed in Unreal Engine. The students’ animations will consist of a 3D-designed stage, a rigged and animated architecture, and a developed narrative. These digital performances will function as emotional amplifiers for the audience, enhancing their viewing experience and understanding of the constructed space.

Each week we will have a series of in class intensive workshops focusing on Unreal Engine and asset creation. Diving into a pipeline of Unreal, photogrammetry, polygon modeling, Zbrush sculpting, substance painter texturing, and marmoset toolbag. Additionally, every week, one group will present their chosen artist and research to the class, along with the digital pipelines and processes they’re experimenting with. Sessions will take place in person at Perloff Hall. At the end of the quarter our final jury will act as a festival of performances.

Ultimately, students will hone their skills in producing and animating hyper-real visualizations while also developing and broadening their background and understanding of composition, lighting, motion capture and narrative development, applicable to practical uses in the field.

Description coming soon

How do the historical disciplines—and among them architectural history in particular—produce their fields of research? How do fields focused on various scales and durations intersect in one scholarly project? If we take fields to be networks of relations reconstructed through proof and conjecture—a subjective enterprise that aspires to veracity—what makes such fields amenable to the interests of larger communities of scholars and readers? And finally, what role do we assign to narrative in weaving together these fields?

The winter colloquium will focus on the promises and perils of disciplinary fields. We will hypothesize that today the definition of a scholarly field in architectural history runs into two kinds of difficulty. One is the prevailing issue of specialization, where fields searching for specificity risk losing touch with problems of broader historical import. The opposite can also be true: with the rise of global history, big history, world-systems analysis, the spatial turn, big data, and so on, fields risk expanding beyond recognition.

Addressing methods of historical scholarship across the humanities, in the colloquium we will assay modes of historical writing that seek to move past anecdotal overspecialization, on one hand, and the encyclopedism implicit in the return of grand narratives, on the other. Picking the thread where the fall colloquium left off, the course will use the book review—a genre historians have traditionally used to take stock of, and put pressure on, particular fields of research—as its historiographical device of choice. Writing a book review entails the possibility of tracing the contours of a field and situate oneself in relation to it: in each workshop students will review a book and use it as an opportunity to identify and possibly intervene in a field of personal historiographical interest.

The studio will examine two highly familiar, normative types: multifamily housing and education buildings. The two types share similar formal properties of cellularity, seriality and a fundamental modularity. In California, both low rise types typically foster an essential connection between landscape and constructed environment, with circulation open to the exterior and automobile access adjacent.

These building types share scale and the capacity to grow through aggregation, align domestic and institutional programs, and for young people, comprise the majority of the daily experience of interiority. Housing and education buildings are the working buildings of the American landscape, simultaneously the most memorable and most forgettable places of inhabitation. Housing and school buildings are typically executed as an architecture of low expectations, normative and minimally performative. They are the tee shirts and khakis of the built environment.

While extremely convention driven, these types have the capacity to support improvisation and innovation when driven by tectonic logic and tested against challenging environmental conditions. This is the objective of this studio.

This studio will structure the examination of both housing and a school buildings in extremely exurban settings through two variables. First, students will research and adopt a specific construction strategy; this will be the tectonic basis for your work and the navigational star for your design work. The second variable is adapting that system to the extremes of the environmental characteristics of the site.

The term tectonics in architecture is usually a characterization of the relationship between materials and structural logic, of assemblies organized into systems. Tectonics generally accepts the idea that there is a hierarchy in place between structure system and envelope, and the relationship between these can characterize the tectonic properties of a building.

In this studio we will prioritize tectonic imagination rather than as a characterization of assembly. The tectonic logic of the system you will be deploying will be the primary architectural determinant in your work this quarter, and we will continue to interrogate the potential and limitations of the system you have selected.

Immersive technology has brought forward a renewed interest in the avatar: the embodiment or personification of individuals, groups, and even concepts or attitudes. As we turn our scrolls into strolls we (re)shape the spaces around us, physical and virtual alike. Our social lives occur in transmedia spaces whose design and regulation nobody takes responsibility for. We are living in the fax machine times of an unavoidable transmedia existence. We are going through the unappealing glitchy era. While many of us choose to look away, many aspects of our future are being tested and established uncritically and more often than not unethically. Rather than envisioning ever glossier futures we choose to work with the sloppy, patchy, and glitchy present through a hands-on / ready-made / makeshift approach to designing transmedia gatherings. Students will select and study an existing gathering, conducting research through makeshift prototypes, and then build installations of transmedia gathering spaces, set up and run gathering events, and conclude with a documentation report.

The radical transformation of Owens Lake created by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to fuel the otherwise impossible urban growth of Los Angeles and is still largely managed by LADWP, and has become the most well-known indication of LA’s overwhelming impact on the pre-modern natural world. The toxicity of its airborne mineral effluents ranks among the world’s most recognizable ecological mistakes and is clearly visible from space. But for all of this, and refraining momentarily from seeing it for the colossal human-induced (un)natural disaster that it is, Owens Lake might be imagined as a study in fluid motion, a gigantic painterly palette of minerals pushed and pulled to slake an elsewhere thirst. Its colors and patterns are of stunning beauty, changing year to year in response to natural, seasonal fluctuations of temperature, biochemistry, wind and rain as well as to continually evolving remediation efforts developed through human engineering. Improved dust mitigation techniques implemented each year render the complexion of the playa different all the time, never to be imaged or mapped the same way twice. Images from space reveal a striking palette of reds, pinks, and greens in synthetic whorls and bands of color and pattern both strikingly specific and clearly unnatural in form. Places like this do not naturally occur. Photographed from above it is an album of fluid motion continually in flux.

See student work from Payne's Saline Dreams 4, 2021

A cover is universally known to be a musical performance or recording by someone other than the
original artist - a widely recognized form of practice in the industry. Once you start to look, you easily recognize similar practices across disciplines: in fashion, art, furniture design, movies, literature, graphic design. Cat Power’s rendition of Rolling Stone’s “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” is iconic, in part through the fact that there is no "satisfaction" to be found in it. Gerrit Rietveld’s Chair from 1924, covered by Yrjö Kukkapuro, covered by Something Fantastic. Farnsworth and Glass House - or the other way around? La Piscine and The Bigger Splash. Glasgow Airport logo and Off White. Mrs Dalloway and The Hours. And on and on and on. Covers acknowledge that nothing happens in a vacuum and reflect our vast interconnectedness.

Cover also means shelter. To protect or hide. To conceal or disguise, to extend over time or space. To run for cover, to cover one’s back.

Cover Me Softly raises the question of what it could mean to look at buildings through the prism of
“covers”. Architecture, arguably one of the most limited art forms, if considered as such, traded the
vernacular’s strength - repetition and adaptation - for the myth of the unequivocally original. However socially, ecologically and culturally today, it is rather imperative to reconsider the built environment per se, as well as the way we conceive of it.

There are two equally urgent propositions here. First the question of covering as a design process,
implicit of both technical performance and cultural reflection looking carefully at what others have done, acknowledging and building from what was, towards what could be, understanding either how and what to save, how and what to adapt, how and what to translate to sustain the future. Second is the question of covers as practice: what can we as architects learn from other disciplines in creating authentic work born from or authentic work, in how we relate to our work and the work of others. Can a different understanding of ownership, copyright, authenticity open new possibilities of practice?

Year-long studio

From the crude shovel reshaping our landscapes to the intricacies of the printing press revolutionizing knowledge dissemination, technological innovations have always stood at the forefront of human evolution. Yet, the narratives of these tools are not just tales of isolated brilliance; they are deeply woven into the fabric of their environments and the lives of their protagonists. These tools are the tangible embodiments of our innate desire to innovate, but they also bear witness to our journey as we live and grow with tools we’ve created, often making mistakes as we learn how best to use them.

This year we will research and work within the relationship between technology, environment, and protagonist. The environment shapes the challenges we face, the protagonist crafts the tool in response, and the tool, once deployed, reshapes that very environment, thereby influencing the needs and desires of the protagonist anew. It's a cycle of perpetual innovation and adaptation.

A farmer in rural China or Italy (the story is the same across the world), is a protagonist of his own small world. One day, he wielded a simple shovel to carve a small irrigation channel from a stream into his fields. Over decades, this act didn't just transform his immediate landscape, but also led neighboring farmers to do the same. As more joined in, this collective effort transformed the entire region, turning what was a barren land into a flourishing agricultural hub. A shovel triggered an environmental and socioeconomic metamorphosis.

One of the most important technologies of all time is widely acknowledged as the printing press. Once a very labor and time-intensive process, the production of books escalated exponentially. In a world that relied up until that point on the relaying of information through word of mouth, widespread access to knowledge radically transformed the cultural landscape, eventually laying the groundwork for the Renaissance.

Keep in mind the intrinsic interdependency: for every tool there is an environment it alters and a protagonist it supports. This studio is not just about creating transformative tools, but about understanding and crafting the interconnected stories they tell within the ecosystems they inhabit and the lives they shape.

Remember also, that even small tools can lead to unimaginable change.

Description coming soon

A revised history and projected future critical report on Los Angeles County for the year 2033, using photojournalism, documentary techniques, field research, archive searches, categorized image reference searches, data mining, and the tools of LLM Gen AI text and image generators.

Part 1/Fall and Winter Quarters:
The research, design, and content development of a STANDARD REFERENCE ENCYCLOPEDIA YEARBOOK: LOS ANGELES COUNTY 2033. This work will be carried out by teams of two students. You will work together to generate / brainstorm content ideas and scenarios and cooperatively produce all the work. You are both authors of the book.

The content for the 2033 Yearbook will cover in A-Z order all matters of concern for Los Angeles County that occurred in that year with an understanding that information (if not specific events) from the previous decade may be included or inform the work. This means that the book will include an analysis of 2023, an editorial / revisionist examination of the city before 2023, and the documentation of the specuative state of affairs in Los Angeles 10 years from now.

This project is not sci-fi, nor does it concern itself with conceptual issues around the real, the fictional, fakes, etc. It will use photorealism through Gen AI image making and your own photography not as deception, but as a means to convey ideas about possible near future outcomes. It will use deadpan techniques, but not as a game.

The pedagogical intent of this work is focused on the idea that the more you know about everything around you, the more A) informed you’ll be as a citizen and B) equipped you’ll be as a designer to invent new things that will be useful and provocative going forward in your career. Therefore, the A-Z understanding of life, landscapes, people, places, architecture, movements, etc, ALL organized and designed by you.

Part 2/Spring Quarter:
A design project to be derived from the research and design contained in the Report. This work will be carried out individually unless the team chooses to pursue the work together.

As you are working on your Encyclopedia, each week your knowledge of LA will increase, even if you don’t leave your living room. You’ll be tasked with trying to see, document, and redesign everything “out there.” Where facts and fiction meet are less important than scope, that you see as wide as possible, because the more you do, the more informed and equipped you’ll be to create a powerful project scenario.

Through the work, you will find deeper connections to certain things or concepts. Obviously, the entry in our book entitled ARCHITECTURE is an important one. It will, as I have in my book (at least begun to) parse building through material, language, location, program, user, landscape, economies, markets, and more. When looked at in relation to everything else within your scope, scenarios will emerge.

For the most part, your yearbooks will begin to express not only social, cultural, and political positions, but also a design position. What you design in terms of fashion and industrial design should impact your thinking as an architect, or the film stills you develop. While there can be a wide range of project types, e.g. a park, a roof over the LA Coliseum, a Kindergarten, a Tower, dormitories, hillside housing, water management infrastructure, etc., the studio is interested in a certain kind of tone: precise, technical, resolved, without irony, with seriousness, dashes of humor if necessary, joy, not cartoonish but possibly outlandish, frightening in its possibility. How formal or stylistic aspects of the work fit into this tonal world will obviously be discussed along the way.

As a mode of teaching and collaboration, my role is to set agendas as well as react to what you do. Part of this studio is unfettered freedom. Another part is constrained freedom. But those constraints are not defined solely by my personal ideology as much as it by making sure that the work is connected to a discourse and is not merely personal or privatized.

Year-long studio

As Bruno Latour writes in Down to Earth, “What is certain is that all find themselves facing a universal lack of shareable space and inhabitable land… Migrations, explosions of inequality, and New Climate Regime: these are one and the same threat.” In this recent book, Latour makes a compelling case for the relationship of our bleak climate future to globalism, wealth disparity, political polarization, and nationalism and identity politics. Latour argues that climate change has already shifted the political landscape across the globe leading to migration, civil war and unrest, migrant detention, and political shifts. Given this incredibly dynamic planetary and national backdrop, this studio questions the expectation of permanence that accompanies our housing production. Housing is encumbered financially and environmentally by the private land to which it is tied. We question our collective desire to be rooted to privately held property, in cities we call home, even when such land is in peril. In order to decouple home and land from its associated notions of permanence, this studio proposes prefabricated housing systems designed for future mobility and new organizations of community afforded by the aggregation of this housing. Each proposal is tested on Los Angeles test bed sites (R-1, two R-1, and 64-acre Burbank site), cultivating critical stances toward prefabricated housing. We consider how existing infrastructure and new housing systems might accommodate the inevitability of migration - our future climate caravan.

Year-long studio

A mission or vision statement is not a vague platitude. These are articulations of unique competence and measurable goals. For three years in the MSAUD program, Professor Greg Lynn taught a two-quarter seminar that used corporate brand defining tools as a critical instrument for historical and cultural research. Last year, Lynn's MArch Research Studio used those tools as design method. The experience with goal setting and defining personal criteria for success can assist in team building and studio culture alignment in future professional practice.

The Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 quarters of Professor Lynn's 2023-2024 year-long Research Studio will focus on the formation of critical architectural concepts with clear measurable consequences. The disciplined skills of problem formation, value decisions, radical editing, profundity, and extreme clarity of communication will be applied to the studio. During these two quarters there will be no modeling, drawing, model building, or creation of forms, shapes, patterns, or diagrams. You will define your own design brief during these two quarters. During the Spring 2024 quarter of the research studio, everyone will share a site where a building design will be executed with relevant comprehension guided by personal Mission and Vision statements.

Throughout the Fall 2023 quarter, student will craft a personal mission statement using a precedent of historical subjects. The role of a mission statement is to define the core competency, and this will be created through the lens of another architect. During the Fall 2023 quarter, each student will be responsible for writing four sentences, selecting four images, and writing four captions in twenty weeks. If the last four years are any indication, it will be the hardest conceptual work you have ever endured. The process is collective, and all conversations are vetted and supported by the entire group. Each student will select an architect from a given list based on their interest in their work. They will define the core competency in a one sentence mission statement; a visual argument using two images; and a factual caption for each image. Based on mission statement, each architect will be positioned on the wheel of Carl Jung’s twelve archetypes.

Year-long studio, with precedent in 2022-2023's "Fit for the Future" studio

Wearables protect us from the climatic conditions, they provide privacy, comfort and they also reflect our style and personality. Building facades in the same way, provide protection from the weather, comfort, privacy and showcase typology and style. The link between architecture and fashion is a perceptible phenomenon in both theory and practice through many contemporary pioneers including Frank Lloyd Wright, Adolf Loos, Coco Chanel, and Joseph Hoffmann. Designing the architectural surface was frequently understood as being similar to designing a garment. The foundation of this connection between textiles or dresses and architecture had been laid in the mid-19th century by architect Gottfried Semper’s “Principle of Dressing.”

Students check out work from Prof. Koerner's 2022-2023 "Fit for the Future" studio

This year-long research studio in its second cycle, will investigate the relationship of fashion and building skins, and research how buildings of the future can have skins that are performative and are 3D-printed with innovative sustainable materials. Across the world, temperature extremities are rising into previously unimagined realms and summers are developing to record setting heat. Extreme heat affects health and wellbeing and it affects how we occupy and use buildings. Climate change is experienced across the world in changing weather conditions such as more frequent fires, droughts, storms and flash floods. Ground-up construction will diminish in urban environments and increasingly be replaced with retrofits. Within the studio we will rethink how to design retrofits of existing buildings, providing them a new wearable skin, and one that responds to extreme climatic conditions.

Surge in use of 3D printers in the construction industry for making precise final products, developing prototypes while lowering the production and materials cost and increase in adoption of green buildings and structure drive the growth of the global 3D printing construction market. The market across North America held the largest share in 2021, accounting for nearly two-fifths of the market. The path towards a sustainable future requires a transition from the current linear, extractive, toxic construction practices, towards circular, bio-based, renewable materials and methods. This shift has the potential to dramatically reduce the natural resource needs and carbon footprint of growing cities and infrastructure, and is critical to deliver on the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Year-long studio

Super-aging - living active and healthy into one’s 80s and 90s - is increasingly common. Yet the architecture of aging is largely lifeless. Unimaginative planning, bland experiences. There are exceptions. In Blue Zones, places where residents live exceptionally long lives, the environment contributes to wellbeing. In fact, the environment is believed to be the most important factor: architecture is critical to long healthspans.

Boomers have been the biggest contributors to climate change in the US. Constructing their cities and suburbs, delivering their infrastructure and consumer goods have left their mark. As an environmental second act, can their future communities support super-aging and also extend the lifespan of their surroundings? The research studio will generate proposals for active architecture, formulating both active uses and vital ecosystems.

In this course, we're diving into the interplay between technology, narrative, and space. Inspired by the films where a singular device or technology becomes a linchpin of the narrative — think of the Voight-Kampff machine in Blade Runner or the dream machine in Inception — we'll set forth to dream, design, and dissect technologies that are just slightly "off-kilter."

Think about the Telescreens in George Orwell's "1984," which act as more than mere surveillance devices—they shape a society where freedom itself becomes an alien concept. Or the memory erasure in Yoko Ogawa's "The Memory Police," a device that sustains an entire regime by eliminating objects and the memories associated with them. In more contemporary narratives, Dave Eggers' "The Circle" features SeeChange Cameras promoting 'transparency,' but simultaneously reveal layers of ethical conundrums related to privacy. The handheld genetic testing in "Gattaca" pushes beyond plot points to underline the ethical pitfalls of a society obsessed with genetic purity, while the smart house system in "Ex Machina" serves as a cautionary tale about AI ethics, the smart home, and autonomy. Even the Neuralyzer in "Men in Black," on the more comical end of the spectrum, raises serious ethical questions around the manipulation of human memory and history. And the social credit system in the Black Mirror episode "Nosedive," veers dangerously close to the world we already occupy - it isn’t a physical tool as much a system that prompts us to ponder the metrics of our self-worth.

These examples highlight that technology serves as a crucial narrative element with the potential to reshape societal rules and personal ethics. In this seminar, you are asked to wield these narrative tools with a sense of their profound impact and complexity.
In the grand scope of the trio of Entertainment Studio courses, we're looking to engage with the dialectics of Space, Technology, and the Inhabitant—or as you may come to know it: Room, Object, User; or Room, Technology, Narrator. Take your pick, or even better, evolve it.

Description coming soon

"Roughly, by a complex system I mean one made up of a large number of parts that interact in a non-simple way. In such systems, the whole is more than the sum of the parts, not in an ultimate, metaphysical sense, but in the im portant pragmatic sense that, given the properties of the parts and the laws of their interaction, it is not a trivial matter to infer the properties of the whole.”
Herbert Simon, “The Architecture of Complexity,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 106 (6), 1962.

The 412 Building Design Studio focuses on the relation of structure to architectural design, examining techniques of structural form-finding and expression. The studio oscillates between notions of structure as a response to the external forces that act on a building (gravity first among these), and spatial order. That is, we will think of structure doing two kinds of work. First, it responds to the conditions of physics by managing a set of vertical, lateral, and torsional forces. Second, structure organizes matter and space through its spacing, repetition, sizing, and, at times, through discrete and idiosyncratic gestures. Mediating between these two roles, the aesthetic expression of structure is the point where the presence of mostly invisible forces begins to merge with the design of architecture’s visible presence. In particular, this occurs through ornament and its longstanding role as the locus where the physically performative parts of architecture start to communicate with an audience through an expanded register of optical and spatial effects.

Programmatically, this studio will focus on a house for plants: an arboretum with a specific intent to conserve and, as such, educate the public on conservation on a fictitious urban site in Los Angeles to produce a new building typology which appropriates the program for a dense urban condition with tectonic aspects supporting a fully planted out urban conservationist landscape. Our building proposal will serve as the conditioned enclosure to preserve and grow plants that would not otherwise be able to survive in the prevailing climactic conditions of Los Angeles. In addition to plant growth, the building will house the ancillary functions of research, and public engagement. This
blended nature of the program will require projects to simultaneously attend to the demands of plant growth (with great specificity for the requirements of plant species) alongside the requirement for human habitation. In both function and expression, then the building will level the proverbial playing field between the space of plants and the place of humans. The physical and spatial properties of structure are an ideal frame within which to consider this flattening of hierarchy between our building’s human and non-human constituencies. Not only does structure regulate the basic properties of a building like span, height, and volume, but it is highly correlated to the kinds of decisions that will need to be made as the building attempts to serve various audiences: structures can be cellular or open, light or heavy, dense or aerated, and can move between these conditions.

Ideas about enclosure are derivatives of simple notions of what is inside, outside, and notions of doubling interiority by placing discrete, insulated building objects inside others or conversely extracting programs and functions traditionally inside larger building volumes as independent exterior elements that articulate positions on the relationship between the private space of research and the public space of exhibition and demonstration, visual access versus physical access, complimentary versus contrasting or disjunctive/interruptive adjacencies, site constraints, etc. Projects should develop relationships of structure and order that take a position with each of the following themes:

i) continuity vs. discontinuity
ii) stability vs. instability
iii) revealed (expressed) vs. concealed (suppressed)
iv) part v. whole relationships tied to specificity of fits

Although the architectural outcomes will aspire to novelty, the working method of the studio will acknowledge that structural systems in architecture almost always belong to a set of fairly well-understood categories. We will therefore treat our work primarily as the modification and adjustment of vector-active systems (trusses and space trusses), section-active systems (beams, frames, and grids), surface-active systems (plates, folded plates, and shells), and with occasional and deliberate hybrids between these. Our basic intellectual device for analyzing and modifying these toward novel will be tectonic, meaning the three-fold relationship between structure, construction, and aesthetic expression. As tectonics relationships between the basic parts of structure change, so too will the fundamental catalog of architectural elements – walls, floors, roofs, windows, doors, and so on. Compared with conventional precedent-based approaches for analyzing existing seminal cases, which has frequently been understood as the essential basis for producing new outcomes, this studio will substitute “System” as precedent.

414/Winter 2024 is the first quarter of the two-quarter, 414-415 sequence for second-year MArch students

NEXT – CYCLE

The measurable and undeniable realities of climate change, finite resources of building materials, environmentally detrimental building practices make us all pause and reconsider how we as architects, as a discipline, as individuals and as society should rethink the ways we responsibly reimagine and inhabit the future of our built environment. More than any other next generation of architects, this rising next generation of architects will be deeply engaged in the imagining the next cycle of existing building stock, sites, grounds, cities and territories. This paradigm of engaging the existing material accumulation on a site in a constructive and creative manner brings along a set of interesting challenges and potentials. As we contemplate architectural value for spaces that were made for other needs at other times, for materials that might not be directly conducive to present needs and meanings sought; as we decide what to salvage, what to reappropriate, what to reconfigure, what and how to add to; and as we try to make sensible new tectonics for a culture that evolves rapidly, our framing of the problem begins to shift from the territory of responsible environmental ethics towards the territory of potential emergent aesthetics. This studio challenges the students to develop a position in engaging an existing building/site and to imagine a highly specific and detailed project for its next cycle towards an alternative future.

Structures 2, AUD 432, is the second part of a year-long, three-part exploration into structural thinking. Structure is certainly used to support architecture, but, is also space defining, form generating, and aesthetically engaging as well. The Golden Gate Bridge has majestic structural towers and fluid structural cables. They support the roadway. But they then define the architecture, the roadway being almost structurally incidental. The dome of the Pantheon encloses a wonderful, large circular space. But the architecture is certainly in the presence of the dome itself.

Structures 2 continues the understanding of span from Structures 1. How span works is central to what is built. Both opportunities and limitations are found here. Columns and walls play a similar role, but to a lesser degree. We look first at columns this quarter and then we look at wood as a building material, as a spanning material, a material that is undergoing profound changes as we move away from solid-sawn members and more to engineered members. Mass Timber is expanding these changes. Many of the ideas discussed are similar to those of steel, many are different.

The ideas developed will be more material-dependent than they were in Structures 1. Numerous examples of built architecture will be looked at from the standpoint of structure’s role in the architectural design. The course will also look at an introduction to lateral load design, though this is a topic more fully addressed in Structures 3.

Introduction to construction systems and techniques as practiced in progressive architecture, past and present, through lectures, site visits, and case studies. Intended for students without a prior degree in architecture, coursework focuses on prevalent physical principles of construction, materials, methods and associated professional practices essential to the making of architecture.

This course will introduce the design of Building Systems for buildings. The following will be
discussed:

Comfort Control for Occupants
Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
Plumbing System Design
Electrical System Design
Lighting Design
Building Acoustics
Fire and Life Safety
Vertical Transportation
Building System Integration

Course objectives include:
• To teach the students the fundamental issues of Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical systems
in Buildings
• To teach the students how Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical systems impact the
Architectural Design and how to integrate these systems into architecture.
• To expose the students to the practical issues relating to Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical
Systems, which arise during the design, construction and commissioning of a building.
• To provide the students with a useful set of references which can be used in future work and
in design studios.
• To expose the students to the concepts of integrated design team working
• To outline the relevant codes which govern building design.
• To expose the students to the array of available tools, systems and equipment used in
Professional Engineering Practice