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Design as Scholarship
The Introductory Architecture Studio Revisited: Exploring the Educational Potential of Design-Build within a Liberal Arts Context
James Middlebrook & Katherine Maines
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While much has been written about the role and methods of design-build exercises within the curriculum of architecture schools, less has been ventured about the potential role of such activities at liberal arts institutions. This paper suggests educational potential and pedagogical means for designing and building at full scale within introductory-level design studio courses at such colleges. As part of this discussion, this paper recommends ways to limit the scope and scale of such projects to make them viable for this particular institutional context. Example assignments intended to demonstrate tactical efficiencies of scale include an interdisciplinary collaboration between an introductory architectural design studio course and an animal behavior class through an assignment to design and build birdhouses; permanent alterations built within a local public library, requiring student engagement with the client and the use of rapid prototyping; temporary programmatic additions to the architecture studio that were constructed from recycled paper-based materials; and the adaptation of an inhabitable structure within the studio space that has been transformed numerous times over several years by different teams of students. The methods, lessons, constraints, and challenges of these assignments are discussed with the intention of suggesting how such exercises can foreground relevant issues of real-world design processes.

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