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Admittedly, these obstacles are primarily perceptual differences on the part of both architects and members of other fields. The architectural community can do a great deal to help eliminate these misunderstandings and work toward creating a multidisciplinary approach to the design process. Reforming our current system of architectural education is a first start in removing these obstacles. Ultimately, we are designers. This does not imply, however, that the design studio should be the end-all and be-all of an architecture school. The studio-centered system, as it currently exists, "commands the hearts and minds (and time) of students, while the so-called 'support' courses...often get short shrift."[14] Placing studio on a pedestal relegates other coursework to the fringes. As Dee Briggs points out, "academics often claim that studio is the place where students synthesize what they have learned in other classes...into their design solutions, though the connection betwe! en these issues and what we design is seldom clear. The marginalization of nondesign subjects in architecture schools is the beginning of the devaluation of elements vital to the existence and realization of architecture."[15] This agrees with Jon Lang's postulate that "architecture is a fine art, [but] it is also a technology and an applied social/behavioral science in which architects make statements on the activity patterns, physiological needs and aesthetic preferences of people." [16]

In addition to positioning non-studio courses to the fringes of architectural education, the studio system breeds excessive competition, which in turn promotes the concept that creative ideas are highly specific to the individual designer and that truly creative ideas can never be arrived at in a group decision-making situation. Max Bond has seen this trend and points out that "'we don't train architects to work as part of a group -- not only as a group of architects, but as a group of architects and other professionals, such as engineers'."[17] Architects are not the sole decision-makers in building projects, which are becoming more and more complex with an increasing number of hands in the pot. Architects, to be effective, must learn to work in group situations.

As a professional program, unsure of its role in academia, "architecture has tended to resist other outside influences."[18] Faculty in other departments often complain about how students are unprepared for the rigorous requirements of their courses. Faculty members in architecture are seen as "amateurs, teaching elementary courses."[19] Without the training in the basic methods of research in the sciences or the humanities, or even the ability to formulate a written argument clearly, architecture students are never able to enroll in anything more than introductory level courses in other departments. This only serves to perpetuate the problem that architecture students, as they are currently being trained, never learn how to conduct research on par with other fields.

Rather than distancing ourselves from the rest of the university, architecture programs should be making every effort to become active participants in the academic environment. "The location of most schools in the centers of learning should make accessible the knowledge, understanding, skills and judgment of other disciplines which overlap with the discipline of architecture."[20] Students, at the outset of their architectural careers, should be made aware of the advantages of learning to work in a group setting. Their academic careers should provide students with the opportunity to discover the intricacies of other fields and learn to work together to solve the problems of the built environment. The ultimate goal of architectural education should not be to merely train practitioners, but "to help students see the vast potential for interrelationships between ideas and disciplines, to encourage them to confront all new problems of design in terms of dialectic (as opposed t! o formula), to generate a spirit of cooperation and intellectual respect for other fields that will ultimately help them work in a profession that requires collective input."[21] We should focus on producing graduates who are "well educated" and able to apply a full body of knowledge to solve problems and adapt to new circumstances. This is in opposition to the "well trained" students that we try to produce today, whose skills are limited to specific tasks relevant to the temporal demands of the profession. Our graduates cannot survive by knowing the practicalities of the profession as it currently exists. Architecture is growing incredibly complex, and without the ability to evolve and contribute new knowledge to the field, our graduates have no way of surviving.[22]

The question then becomes: How do we, as teachers, learn to educate our students in such a way that they come to understand the interdependency of all fields and are capable of working within a complex and changing profession for the betterment of the built environment? To accomplish this, we must be willing to alter our programs of architecture in ways that some may consider to be drastic. The main focus of an architecture program should not be to provide students with the ability to solve task-oriented, highly specific problems. Design is not a plug-and-chug activity. There are no pre-set rules and there is no one "right" way to design. We must teach our students to think for themselves by providing them with a rigorous intellectual foundation. As Stanford Anderson has pointed out, "we need not expect or look for absolute, positive bases for environmental knowledge."[23] Providing an intellectual foundation of sufficient breadth requires an integration with other dep! artments and fields. Max Bond asserts that "'architectural education should start with liberal education and with people learning not specifically architecture as a trade, but understanding the economic, political, social and cultural context in which they exist'."[24] The architect should become a "generalist," with the ability to make connections between the many facets of architecture. To accomplish this, he/she must have a broad educational background that covers a wide range of topics and disciplines. As such, we should strive to create programs of architecture with a broad foundation in the liberal arts and sciences. Students can then bring what they learn in their general education classes and apply them to their architectural coursework.[25]

Also important is the need to integrate coursework. Studios can no longer stand alone as the keystone of an architectural program. Students do not use the studio as the place to bring together all the information that they have gained in other courses. We cannot expect students to integrate what they have learned when we, as educators, fail to emphasize the importance of developing an integrated design process. The current emphasis in the studio is on form-making. As a result, we encourage our students to be unconcerned with "mundane considerations" such as: How much does it cost? How will it affect its users? Will it stand up? How does it relate to its surroundings? What is it made of? What impact does it have on our environment? Rather than ignoring these questions, we should focus on creating a curriculum which is a "well-designed package of integral components each of which serve in the capacity of the others....We must adopt a model of architectural education in which the various germane issues are presented in terms of their theoretical foundations and their architectural significance in a manner that is integral to the rest of the curriculum."[26]

Our goal should be to establish a dialogue between architects and those in other fields relevant to the creation of the built environment. To do this, we must first establish a dialogue within our own field, not only between fellow students, but also between faculty and students. Gregory Baum points out that "'true dialog takes place only among equals. There is no dialog across the boundaries between masters and servants...'"[27] Creating studios and environments where the professor:student relationship is replaced with a colleague:colleague relationship will go far in eliminating the social and political structures that have perpetuated the status quo in architectural education.

To accomplish these goals (developing an intellectual foundation for the profession of architecture, promoting a curriculum which has a focus on other academic fields, promoting integration between studio courses and the core lectures, and removing the existing hierarchical structure), a variety of strategies need to be examined. Some of these are already in use at a great number of schools, but an occasional studio or assignment here and there can't affect every student. Two or three professors in a program can't do enough. Entire programs must be willing to embrace a change of attitude and advocate the necessary curricular revisions to improve the ability of our graduates to work within the increasingly complex profession. These changes can't occur overnight. As faculty members, we tend to resist any changes that might have negative repercussions for the students or that might undermine our own positions within the program. To be effective, these changes must occur gra! dually so that both faculty and students have the opportunity to understand the benefits of curricular reform. What is most important in this reform is that decisions not come from the top down, but instead come from the faculty and students working together to discover what strategies work best for them and are in the best interest of the profession. The strategies that I propose here are not the only options, but they are ones that seem to be advocated by both teachers and practitioners in an attempt to solve a variety of problems that exist within our current educational system.

Reforming the design studio is the first step to introducing reform. Currently, the most common tactic within architecture programs is to add technical requirements to design problems. By placing emphasis on a body of technical knowledge, studios force the integration of seminars, lectures, and the design process. This integration can occur in a variety of different ways: specialized studios at USC in Los Angeles focus on particular areas of knowledge, the "Total Studio" at MIT utilizes lectures introduced into key points of the design process, and Tulane requires students to take at least one "Comprehensive Studio" in the upper levels that emphasizes the integration of structural and technological concerns.[28] Arizona State introduces professional practice into the studio environment. Students visit project sites and meet contractors and craftspeople. It allows them to "'build a respect for the contractors, masons, material manufacturers, and an understanding of the c! ollaborative nature of contemporary architecture and construction'."[29]

Students should be surrounded with a variety of ideas, none more important than any other. The typical design studio, with the viewpoint of one professor, often eliminates the introduction of multiple views into the studio. The design process is never a singular endeavor and on a daily basis, architects must grapple with the varying opinions of a large group of people. Learning to come to terms with this type of environment as a student can only lead to a better understanding of a group design situation. Team-teaching brings together a team of specialists and sets "an example of collaboration" which illustrates that multiple opinions and perspectives are not only valid, but highly desirable. "The team-taught studio can offer a means to overcome the problems associated with narrowly focused, solution oriented studios in which most issues are subordinated to a constrained notion of architectural design in which architectural form dominates."[30] Team-teaching also allows c! ollaboration to occur between fields which do not work together as often as they should in the academic environment. In addition to specialists within architecture, we can and should call on faculty members outside our department to be involved in the studio environment. By doing this, our students have the opportunity to learn from faculty in Natural Resources, Materials Science, History, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Literary Criticism, Gerontology, Social Work, and Public Health, to name only a few fields which can be linked to the design of the built environment. By allowing students in other fields to enroll in these design studios, architecture students would be opened up to a variety of new ideas and ways of working. Faculty in other fields could also benefit from the experience by seeing architecture students in their own environment and by coming to understand the nature of architectural education. This understanding can only help to break down the misconc! eptions that have been perpetuated between architecture and the rest of academia.

Using more participatory and community-based design studios would "teach students how to participate effectively in decision-making processes."[31] By giving students a "real" design problem with "real" clients, they are faced with the practicalities that most professionals say are sadly lacking in architectural programs today. Using design/build projects, like those at Ball State, Oregon, University of Washington, and Auburn, students gain "hands-on" building experience and develop their skills of working with clients. Working with laypeople not versed in an architectural vocabulary, students must develop their verbal skills (both oral and written) so that their ideas can be expressed clearly and effectively. In today's curriculum, the development of verbal skills only takes place in the design jury, an activity which often takes place as an afterthought to the educational process. Outside of these critiques, students are not given the opportunity and are not encouraged ! to develop these skills. Assignments are not given toward this end, and those assignments that do require students to use their verbal skills are considered secondary to their studio activities. Developing effective graphic skills is not enough to insure that an architect's ideas are being conveyed, we must also teach our graduates so that they can use a variety of skills to relate their ideas to their clients and the community. Asking students to complete a written report before the design process takes place encourages students to "do their homework" and present a clear and well-researched foundation upon which their designs can rest. A written report at the completion of a design project shows students the importance of using a variety of verbal skills to convey design ideas.


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