Architecture's Dysfunctional Couple: Design and Technology at the Crossroads — Table 1

Jonathan Ochshorn

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TABLE 1. Papers from NCBDS 27 (2011)

Source: These images and quotes in Table 1 are taken from the 80 papers in the Proceedings of the 27th NCBDS (National Conference on the Beginning Design Student), University of Nebraska, Chairs: Lindsay Bahe, Peter Hind, Brian Kelly (2011).

Return to Architecture's Dysfunctional Couple. Specific citations for each of the 80 papers are itemized in note 46.

No.Selected image from paperQuote from paperComments
1 image 01 This project "empowers each student with a method of unveiling an object's intentionality through the precision of orthographic drawing... close observation, analytical thinking, and orthographic drawing — make it inherently valuable as an introductory assignment." Encourages an attitude toward "analysis" that abstracts from technical considerations.
2 image 02 "So, we set about finding a way to teach how to see surface, how to describe surface, how to shape surface, how to record surface, and ideation in surface." Encourages an attitude about surface and form that abstracts from technical considerations relevant to building surfaces.
3 Unavailable in PDF form    
4 No image; abstract only "This paper proposes that the beginning design community does not yet know itself properly as a discipline." Unable to comment, as the paper itself is unavailable in the proceedings.
5 image 05 Describes "an experiment that put materials, tools, and ideas directly into the hands of first-year students before a traditional pedagogy would dictate that they are 'ready' for the experience." Exploration of materials and joints tends to focus on expression and structure, but abstracts from technical considerations relevant to building enclosure.
6 image 06 Students are asked to "make a 2-D object (area) that exhibits a total figure-ground alternation. When your instructor and classmates look at your finished surface they should see "ground" as figure as well as "figure" as figure." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
7 image 07 "Critical to the success of the studio was the development of a culture where architectural design and building technology were understood as complementary, rather than dichotomous... the separation of the posts expresses the sense of enclosure of the thick walls as well as the 'freedom' of the thin walls." Technology is examined for its heroic and expressive potential; there does not seem to be a serious examination of important control layer issues.
8 No student work illustrated. "This paper explores the concept of Integrated Design by considering it broadly as a form of practice while noting fundamental explorations that foster an awareness of the extents of relationships established by design." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
9 No student work illustrated. "Integration of technical topics into studio is a goal of our college... Architectural practices, in their quest to design higher performing buildings, are integrating technical requirements earlier and earlier in the design process." An interest in integrating technology and design is articulated, but the specific content is not discussed.
10 No student work illustrated. "While tedious, all of these contractual relationships [e.g., architect-owner, etc.] have tremendous impact on design." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
11 image 11 "The contradictions between self-creation and client community should be seen as the productive working space between private and public ideals." The "trailhead" project shown "was a fairly straight-forward, orthodox project, built as a sign-board for the community at the edge of a parking lot and the start of a sidewalk" Community-design work doesn't seem to engage questions of control layer continuity.
12 image 12 "...early design studies are developed into full-scale projects that effectively integrate structural and environmentally driven concerns with architectural design." Built projects abstract from building enclosure (control layer) considerations.
13 image 13 "...the act of drawing, making, building is inherently about a material based set of decisions. Unfortunately, the design process as taught is often considered a composition of formal complexity and cultural conditioning, prior to, or devoid of, material specificity." An interest in integrating technology and design is articulated, but actual design projects are either free-standing (interior) objects, or else they abstract from considerations of control layer issues, focusing instead of structure.
14 image 14 First, "... students were charged with a simple task — look at your body and pick an idle position as the basic value to initiate an intensive and precise mass production of drawings." Next, they were asked to " produce clear and instructive flow charts in order to detail a process of motion using configurations that could yield alternate outcomes." Encourages an attitude about formal manipulation that abstracts from considerations of control layer issues.
15 No student work illustrated. "By its very nature, an integrated design pedagogy will emphasize the interactions among the technical systems, connecting otherwise discrete bits of information to form a coherent whole." Talks about the ideals of technological integration, but offers no specific insights into how current models of "technology" lead to non-structural failure.
16 image 16 "The paper will focus on the integration of course content during this consolidated second year of curriculum... With this simple designation of project focus (façade, plan, section and structure) we believe we have established a mechanism for securing faculty involvement across courses and competent student work that begins to integrate thinking across courses." Design studies are integrated with lighting and energy evaluations, but there seems to no systematic analysis of control layer issues.
17 image 17 "...analogy and metaphor play two different roles in the design process. Whereas analogy is commonly used as a tool for concept generation and problem solving, metaphor is used, in the early design phases, for framing and defining design problems... This paper argues that the use of analogy and metaphor offers an optimal pedagogy for introducing beginning design students to integrated thinking." Encourages use of metaphor and analogy, based on natural systems, but draws no useful conclusions about control layers.
18 image 18 "By teaching how energy use is related to architectural form, space and order, students were able to design a simple building that eliminated the need to use fossil fuel for heating and cooling in a Midwestern United States climate." The image shows that the investigation leading to a design for a net-zero building still maintains the modernist abstractions characteristic of building failure.
19 No student work illustrated. "I designed a humanities module at AUW to engage students in learning and to generate interest in visuals, arts, and culture." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
20 image 20 "Restricting form language to include all elements meeting at 90, 180, and 270 degrees, students learned to prioritize and shape their design ideas given material and dimensional realities. For pure inspiration (concept, theme), students explored the linear notions associated with a piece of instrumental music to translate into architectural space." Encourages an attitude towards structure, modularity, and analogy (i.e., to music) that abstracts from issues of control layer continuity.
21 No student work illustrated. "A recently redesigned First Year Program...places color in the context of culture, environment, and dimension." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
22 No student work illustrated. "Blogging in electronic portfolios can contribute to architectural education by strengthening reflection, communication, contextualization and collaboration." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
23 image 23 "Through architectural design, we re-enact Primeval cosmogony. We make order, we shape space, and we regulate and differentiate movement out of space — out of amorphous chaos. The Primeval act of creation has never left us as a problem of design. The issues that confronted Ancient man are still the issues that confront us... The task involved casting a concrete block about 8 inches cube, using whatever their imagination and written narrative allowed to intervene with the supplied timber formwork." Deals with materials in a literal way, but otherwise does not seem directly relevant to building technology and the central importance of control layers.
24 No student work illustrated. "I sit down with my students and ask them to rhyme blue. They answer with words like grew, shoe, true. I respond 'no.'" Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
25 No student work illustrated. "What if designers simply began with writing as a brainstorming method of distilling observations, necessities, and project goals?" Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
26 No student work illustrated. "I want to thank you for the course... I never had any understanding there were ideas behind buildings - Psychology major's comment" Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
27 No student work illustrated. "I developed a course in which students used writing as an integral component of the design process." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
28 image 28 "This paper sought to disseminate the pedagogical goals of the 'communications' stream..." Various classes are described: raster vs. vector; relevant software applications; BIM, Grasshopper, etc. The paper suggests that courses in building technology should be more "digitally" fluent. However, as the author is teaching in the Communications stream, the projects he describes do not address specific building technology, or control layer, issues.
29 image 29 "To inquire possibilities of space-making and formmaking through the notion of folding as an avenue for a designer in architectural design processes seems to be on the rise in the last decade... Instilling the idea of discovery in design or exploring unknown qualities of fold as a strategy of form-making in the beginning studios remains the focus of this paper." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
30 image 30 "Although collage and found objects were used well before the beginning of the 20th century, they came into significant exposure through the Cubist movement and more specifically through the work of Pablo Picasso... This project begins with a photography exercise where students are challenged to capture shadows in the built environment with the camera, purposely excluding the object making the shadow." The image shows a project made from playing cards (found objects). This encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
31 No student work illustrated. "A shift to a thermodynamic architecture, or an architectural project that does not place in the foreground tectonic issues requires a rethinking of design and design pedagogy... With a quick download from Autodesk, a student can use Vasari to quickly make mass model and perform a conceptual energy analysis..." Describes an effort to coordinate design studio with other "support" courses. Software for energy analysis or lighting does not necessarily lead to a serious consideration of control layer strategies.
32 image 32 "Through a collaborative effort... students gain access to and can examine primary source materials (original hand-drawn plans, sketches, and project correspondence, etc.), and they use these artifacts as a basis for their digital models and drawings... The act of drawing or modeling the house becomes the vehicle for learning software as well as some essential lessons in architectural composition, building components, structural organization, material expression and appropriateness, and building-to-site relationships." The image shows a student's re drawing or re-modeling of an archival work. It is unlikely that a serious understanding of control layer issues will emerge from such studies.
33 image 33 "What we wish to get at are some of the underlying visual principles and intellectual attitudes that underwrite architectural diagrams." The image may or may not be an example of student work; it illustrates diagram types: "plan drawing, reduced drawing, abstraction, and drawing with overlay." While diagrams may be quite useful in representing issues of control layer continuity and so on, it does not appear that these issues were addressed in the paper.
34 image 34 Discusses "synthesis as a viable means to merge disparate ideas, taking raw thoughts and creating a new type of amalgam...This amalgamation is at the very root of design, and consistently becomes the most valid basis for the emergence of form in architectural design." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
35 image 35 "Beginning design studios are the ideal place, a breeding ground of sorts, for introducing such complex ideologies and developing programs needed for a new generation of designers that will be able to seek solutions from information processing or reasoning, rather than intuition... The approach injects the basic fundamentals of parametric thinking in order to find generative tectonic results." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from important technical considerations, at least in this case.
36 No student work illustrated. "...this paper proposes a framework of principles to guide the activity of drawing in the context of collaborative groups — a key element in meeting the challenges of sustainability." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
37 image 37 "The beginning design course, outlined below, attempts to place the student squarely in the experience of gaining knowledge while simultaneously opening up unknown territory. Proceeding from the premise that the natural world (landscape) is fundamental to our perceptions of our spatial world, our first studios are conducted in a forest." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
38 image 38 "It is in the joining of the formal and material where a sustainable imagination is developed, where complexity enriches rather than bewilders." The studio projects described in this paper address various "sustainability" issues from an expressive standpoint, but generally abstracts from technical considerations and control layer issues.
39 image 39 "One of the basic skills that students must develop is their sense of making connections... One strategy for introduction into the beginning design pedagogy is through the use of mythology and collage..." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
40 image 40 "The use of the student's true body reinforces the potent idea that we are all unique individuals. We must take personal responsibility for our designs; we are our Designs. An artistic composition must have a thoughtful response to its Site; it is this relationship to context that elevates a design beyond mere logo." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
41 image 41 "...students' analysis of the works consisted of careful readings of both written texts and the built environment of their campus context; Las Vegas. The poetics of space making and architectural thinking were explored through three weekly exercises." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
42 image 42 "As informational networks bind us ever more tightly together, they also introduce unseen gaps and fissures within fields of knowledge... it is also possible to engage and embrace the unknown, unknowable, episodic, and incomplete as fundamental aspects of contemporary experience... Building on the highly speculative and conceptual work of the first two years of study in our program, Architectural Design 5 addresses the inherent complexities of the direct physical site, and its bearing on the act of making architecture." Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
43 image 43 "In the beginning design studio, there remains a strong predilection toward short, abstract design projects. These quick projects have a powerful history and are heavily steeped in 20th century Western design education tradition. Unfortunately, these sorts of projects often leave little opportunity to integrate humanitarian concerns into the learning outcome... Students were asked to design a Women's Shelter to be located in inner city Chicago." While such projects introduce students to a "social" context, they also encourage an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations and control layer issues.
44 image 44 "How can this holistic view including the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability be incorporated in the early stages for the design student?... First year Design Platform Students...were assigned the task of designing a wooden toy" Encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from technical considerations.
45 No student work illustrated. "Design students, educators and professionals tell stories. While the continued relevance of any single example can be debated, I will insist upon the importance of story-telling itself." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
46 image 46 "...a wall is no longer merely a solid shell of masonry, or a series of studs hidden behind layers of sheetrock, but a complex layering of individual skins, each with its own characteristics...As an attempt to develop familiarity with spatial and material nuance in architecture, particularly concerning the nature of the thickened boundary or in-between space, the Weaving Walls project serves as an excellent primer for both material and theoretical issues in architecture." While referring to "material nuance," the studio encourages an attitude toward "form-making" that abstracts from important technical considerations, such as control layer continuity.
47 image 47 "The initial solution attempted to remove the students from the tracks of thinking that were leading to the dead ends and involved exploring realms of artistic endeavor and media not typically associated within the discipline...This bias toward the rational has downplayed the role of the emotional, intuitive thought process and has developed a prevailing attitude that these types of mental operations are somehow less valid." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
48 No student work illustrated. "Architects must delineate a means for people to flourish within local communities, international societies and global environments. Technology based educational training does not prepare students for problem solving which promotes this sort of democratic living." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
49 image 49 "Prior to material manipulation shouldn't there be lessons in historical precedents?... Many similar questions have been raised through dialogue with incoming students that have come up through the ranks of college preparatory curricula... The new beginning design student with years or even decades of experience working in the profession often comes to the academy with efficiencies and deficiencies similar to those of the high school student." The image may or may not be a student analysis of the Wollaton House compared to the Bellagio Casino. In any case, the focus of the studio is not directly relevant to the questions of building technology and control layers.
50 No student work illustrated. "The data from this survey in addition to the progress seen in the coursework and discussions show that teaching of design methodology and theories coupled with basic architecture knowledge, can help students to become more aware of their own design process and approach to architecture." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
51 image 51 "Practice will be unable to achieve its goal unless sustainability is recognized as a paradigm-shifting concept, not merely a technical add-on... Sustainable design thinking must be assimilated into the students' mindset... An emphasis is placed upon envisioning and actually constructing work, with an emphasis on incorporating sustainable technologies and relating to actual communities." Design-build work offers the potential to consider technical issues such as control layer continuity, but it is not clear to what extent such issues are consistently raised.
52 image 52 "The unfortunate effect of beginning with this abstraction is that it suppresses the fact that architecture is inseparable from its material manifestation. To fully engage in the act of designing architecture, students must integrate the investigation and understanding of making, building technology, and materiality in their early studies...The students are expected to demonstrate understanding that materials and assemblies are not merely subject to whatever form the design supposes, but that the complex layers of building assemblies — structural, thermal, protective, and expressive — are inherent in the final experience and performance of the architectural work." This studio makes explicit the need to consider technical issues, including control layers and their interactions, not as "add-ons," but as fundamental to the creation of architecture.
53 image 53 "Our curriculum is pushing the technical aspects of architecture to be introduced earlier so they can be understood by students from the start of their education." Using local case studies: "The students were asked to: Calculate sun paths and daylight factor...Draw and identify the passive and active thermal systems for the selected building ...Calculate thermal loading for the selected building. Analyze acoustics for one space in the selected building." Issues of technology are raised early in the design sequence, but the idea is still that they not disturb "the prioritization of conceptual development..." Control layer issues are not explicitly mentioned in the paper; instead, the technical focus is on "systems." Local case studies may or may not reveal useful strategies for building enclosure.
54 No student work illustrated. "...one must look to our educational system as a means to reconnect the practice of architecture to contemporary cultural discourse... The idea of manual competency, one encompassing both the physical acts of making and the intellectual engagements necessary to facilitate those acts of making, is, perhaps, an appropriate foundation upon which to build an architectural pedagogy." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology; fostering an "intellectual" basis for manual competency could engage such issues, but there is no specific discussion in this paper of how this might happen.
55 No student work illustrated. "...a technology against itself may be able to focus our humanity (bios) found in culture, history, and the capacity of language to say something otherwise. This, I believe, can engender a sense of our shared engagement through poetic thinking and making in beginning design. In doing this there is no need to abandon technology since that would be unethical but instead one should struggle to temper its reign." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology, as "technology" is understood in a very general manner rather than in its specific manifestations. Yes, it is possible to address the "poetic" while still engaging technological issues, but those issues still need to be fully understood and prioritized.
56 image 56 "Finding common ground between the electronic and hand drawing/sketching areas in architecture curricula can be achieved." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
57 image 57 "Manual drawing and modeling plays an important role in teaching students to see space in terms of scale, proportion, proximity, and context. Teachers need to see that students have mastered visual spatial thinking prior to unleashing them into the infinite space of modeling software... Another measurable outcome of this studio is an intuitive understanding of the behavior of form and material. The explorations by students in this studio build an intuitive knowledge for the way material behaves structurally." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology: "tectonics" is used as a code for structural intuition, and abstracts from consideration of control layer issues.
58 image 58 "Through an investigative understanding of spatial cognition, it may be possible to utilize current technologies (drawing software, immersive virtual environments, gaming applications, and the like) to [increase the] ability to grasp and develop visual and spatial capacities." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
59 No student work illustrated. "When supposedly neutral performative parameters are used to generate expressive forms, the invisible hand of function is once again justifying formal originality. Our students are learning to select certain preapproved empirical data such as solar orientation, spatial efficiency, air flows, and by myopically privileging extreme analysis, generate what they believe are sought after visual and sculptural effects... What is missing from any further investigation is the actual construing of craft experience as a generative basis for design thinking." The author raises an interesting question: what is "the relationship of style to building well"? However, the question isn't answered, and the primacy of control layers in contemporary building technology is not mentioned.
60 image 60 "What is society's relationship to the environment? What does natural mean? What is nature? How is humankind's relationship to nature conceptualized within one's culture? Where exactly are the wild things?" Encourages an attitude about surface and form that abstracts from technical considerations relevant to building surfaces.
61 image 61 "...an expanded definition of sustainability provides opportunity for exploring poetry, conviction, and ecological practices at the very early stages of design... Student teams spend three weeks with a prescribed set of materials designing and constructing a collapsible passageway that they install in a specified site in the design studio." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
62 image 62 "We believe the dynamics driving ecosystems such as behavioral and cultural adaptation under evolutionary pressure apply to innovation and learning in art and design, and can guide thinking about the development of design learning processes and curriculum." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
63 image 63 "In response to calls for 'zero waste design,' I would like to propose four specific trajectories to inform the teaching of beginning design: the matter of making, eccentricities and excess, and operations of resistance." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
64 image 64 "Powerful modeling tools allow designers to directly manipulate freeform models without considering the constraints of the building process. Therefore, we are left with designs that are often not able to be realized in the physical world... how does one teach beginning design students the difference of immaterial and material design while providing them an immediate experience and hands-on knowledge of materials and construction?" Considers "material" and "tectonics" but abstracts from consideration of control layer issues in actual buildings.
65 image 65 "This paper investigates how first year students can be exposed to the production of dynamic, responsive architectures, by embracing the idea of material as an ever-changing condition." Considers "material" and various "boundary" issues, but abstracts from systematic consideration of control layer issues in actual buildings.
66 image 66 "This paper will present examples from three years of introductory studios from a 5-week summer program... Designed for students interested in architecture, the program is intense but broad and attempts to address how buildings may carry meaning." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology.
67 image 67 "We are no longer living in the age of pure mass reproduction, but of customized singular production. What we thought about owning personal computers in the 1980's is now parallel to how we look at home digital fabrication methods; it is only a matter of time before we are printing prototypes at home." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers, as it focused on "interior design" issues.
68 image 68 "Generative programs are urban programs that have the potential to impact the community beyond its site or organizational typology." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers, as it focused on "urban design" issues.
69 image 69 "Students sometimes perceive environmental strategies as being at odds with spatial considerations... Environmental strategy and response can be directed and given purpose the by desires for spatial configuration." Although environmental issues, light, and heat loss are considered, no systematic examination of control layer issues is evident.
70 image 70 "Clearly, the challenge with freshmen, is when what is represented defaults to weak 'building' conventions vs. an ontological opening of the media of architecture in material, space, light, and time." Although some built projects address issues of rain and sun, a systematic consideration of control layer issues appears to be missing.
71 No student work illustrated. "The paper discusses the question of a sustainable grounding from a standpoint, which is taken by an artist/architect who understands the phenomenological perception as a way of understanding and being in the world. This paper invites us to understand location as a phenomenon and suggests a strategy to transfer it into studio praxis." Encourages an attitude toward site and sustainability that abstracts from technical considerations.
72 image 72 "The function of the ground in the beginning design studio far precedes the question of how built form meets earth, how steel or concrete feet slip into dirt. The ground is for the architect what the page is for the writer." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.
73 image 73 "...a more useful conception understands site as a construction that emerges from the act of making. Architecture designed within this framework in fact borrows from landscape architecture, a discipline that conceives spaces with an understanding of their continuity with their surroundings." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.
74 image 74 "The design process attempts to balance two opposing forces: one pulling the designer away from site matters and towards formal abstraction, and a second pushing back in the direction of contextualization. One way to probe this delicate process — and encourage students' sustained attention to both object and landscape in design — is to study the analogous problem of the figure-ground in the visual arts." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.
75 No student work illustrated. "This presentation will consider the role of observation in an interdisciplinary practice that seeks to comprehend the experiential nature of place and, thereby, unfold a more acute view of the world." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.
76 image 76 "If beginning studio is focused on compositional and formal design, then the introduction of the ground plane must be one of the elements considered." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.
77 No student work illustrated. "Topoi...contain underexplored correlations that are highly relevant for architectural design. Design projects typically originate out of some combination of three constitutive elements: the site or 'context,' the program or 'use,' and the intentions of the architect, his/ her 'project.' If architectural procedures are reducible to one of these topoi alone, the full ecology and, therefore, potentiality of rhetorical invention is lost." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.
78 image 78 "Parametric design can be defined as a series of questions to establish the variables of a design and a computational definition that can be utilized to facilitate a variety of outcomes... By framing projects and curricula from the beginning as parametrically derived, it puts less pressure on the designer to generate the right design and more pressure on them to ask the right questions." Parametric thinking could be directed towards building enclosure and control layer issues; that is, the "right questions" relevant to these issues could be asked. However, they do not seem to be considered in this paper.
79 image 79 "...the pursuit of 'lightness' in structure can manifest into a purely formal and material investigation without addressing the greater question of what it means to 'tread lightly.'" Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.
80 No student work illustrated. "Projections, which have been quietly guiding the geometry of architecture for centuries, have remained an untapped design resource for too long." Not directly relevant to the question of teaching building technology and control layers.