By placing emphasis on the relationship between the architect and the community, participatory and community-based design studios eliminate the importance that has been traditionally placed on the relationship between the professor and the student. Here, the master/servant relationship which prohibits the occurrence of dialogue is eliminated. Now that a discourse is possible, the role of the professor changes. It becomes his/her responsibility to facilitate a dialogue and to encourage equal participation among all the members of the team. In this scenario, students are more readily able to understand their role in the design process. They feel empowered and more in control of the design decisions they make. Group evaluations which take place among equals (faculty, students, and members of the community) eliminates the anxiety that usually occurs with the typical design jury. Students also gain valuable experience in evaluating their peers and learn not only how to discu! ss their own projects, but also obtain experience in impromptu oral communication skills. Removing the hierarchy of the grading process at the end of the term, by determining grades through an equal combination of self-evaluation and peer and faculty evaluation, will continue participation among equals.
The ultimate goal of these studio reforms should be to promote integration within the program as a whole. Dana Cuff supports that "the goal should be to provoke confrontation among typically separated orientations. In such a program, studio, theory, and practice learning would not be isolated into unrelated courses, but connected in a way that sparks would begin to fly." Many current complaints focus on the inability of our students to integrate what they have learned in technologycourses into the design studio. As a result, students do not embrace technological issues as an inherent part of the design process. Introducing aspects of technology into the studio is one way to integrate it into the design process. Another is to teach technology as a design studio in itself. This is already being done at Columbia and at Roger Williams University where "teaching technology and [professional] practice courses as 'design' not only makes the material relevant, it also commu! nicates to students the fact that everything an architect does is design."
Efforts to integrate the architectural curriculum can come in a variety of different guises. Tulane has used the approach of combined assignments, which are formulated by both design and "core course" faculty. These assignments, which can run the gamut from the structural design of a studio space to an historical design problem, are critiqued and graded by all the faculty members involved and can count in the final grade for each course involved in the project. The primary benefits of combined assignments are that students begin to understand the connections between their courses, they have the opportunity to utilize research methods within the design studio, and faculty members begin to develop connections that previously did not exist.
Creating new classes within the department also provides greater opportunity for students to broaden their intellectual base and learn about a variety of areas of interest within the architectural community. Doctoral programs in architecture require their students to take courses which focus on research methods in architecture. The University of Michigan requires an initial course which explores methods in the four different fields within its program (environment & behavior, history & theory, building & environmental technology, and design process & methods). In addition, they require that students enroll in a specialized course which focuses on the methods relevant to their major field of study. Students must also enroll in a research methods course in their minor field of study (which may be in a separate department).
These types of courses should be examined and evaluated according to their applicability to professional programs. Architecture students seem vastly unprepared to tackle even the most basic research problems. By providing courses which focus on the importance of research in the architectural profession and the fundamental methods of conducting research, students are better equipped to bridge the gap between the "professional fields," such as architecture, and the "research fields," such as environmental psychology. These courses can be team-taught by architecture faculty, their colleagues in other fields, and those specifically trained in research methods, such as reference librarians. Courses requiring a final research paper or practicum will give students more experience in presenting their thoughts in a clear written form, a skill that seems to elude most architecture students.
Asking students to complete a thesis project (one which combines a semester of research with a semester of design) in their final year as a requirement for graduation allows students to see the interconnectedness of their own research with a design problem. Many programs currently require a thesis in the final year and some, like Michigan, offer one on a voluntary basis with limited enrollment. To maintain a level of intellectual integrity, all doctoral students must complete a dissertation before receiving their Ph.D.s. This helps to insure a level of consistency throughout the country. Architecture programs should strive for the same integrity and consistency by requiring all architecture students to complete a thesis as a measure of their academic foundation. In addition, public thesis reviews provide the perfect opportunity to introduce the breadth of what we do to the rest of the academic community. Rather than seeing twelve projects which focus on the same theme, v! isitors can see fifty projects which explore a variety of issues and approaches.
The current offerings in "design topics" courses should also be expanded to include a broader range of design issues. Courses which focus on areas of research or current trends in architecture can illustrate to students the complexities of the profession and encourage them to increase their knowledge base. These courses could cover a wide range of topics, including designing for the physically impaired, the history of the profession, and designing for specific climates. These types of courses, though they may also seem to be easily categorized as "support courses," should be emphasized as "design topics," as these types of subjects relate directly to the nature of the profession and to the effective design of the environment in today's society.
There are, of course, more drastic measures that can be taken to reform our curriculum. These require careful thought and a great deal of discussion among all those involved in order to coordinate the adjustments that invariably would need to take place. The primary emphasis in any reform should be to reduce the friction that currently exists between the design studio and the lecture courses. Reducing this conflict will allow students to be more comfortable with the integration which needs to occur in architectural education. David Smith argues that principles "should be integrated into the architectural program at those points where understanding of these principles will provide the foundation for the comprehension of their architectural applications rather than in a separate course specifically oriented for architects." Presenting material in this way would allow students to understand the design implications of a broader range of issues. Michael Crosbie suggests t! hat "one way to overcome the friction between studio critics and those who teach technology, materials, and professional courses is to make them one and the same." Both Smith and Crosbie are concerned with methods that specifically integrate technology and professional issues into the design studio. This, however, is a narrow view of what students need to know to work effectively within the architectural community. Studios and lectures could be combined along a variety of different topics, including design and human health, design and social psychology, and design and contemporary theory.
In the September issue of JAE, Darlene Brady presented her thoughts on providing an architectural education for a changing profession. What she proposed was a drastic revision of our current system of architectural education. While I do not agree with her divisioning of the degree system, I do support the notion of the split academic term. In our current system, we offer a series of lectures and a studio simultaneously. Ultimately, this leads to a conflict between the requirements of the studio and those of the lectures. It also becomes impossible for students to integrate the information from the lectures into their design problems, because the information is not conveyed to them at the appropriate time during the design process. Using the split term can help to alleviate these issues. The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, when faced with the need to cover more material in their MBA program, turned to the split semester system for the! first year of the two-year program. There also have been instances in architecture programs where the split term has been utilized. The Rhode Island School of Design uses a 12-6-12 week structure to encourage experimentation and diversification in their current curriculum and the now-defunct architecture program at the University of California at San Diego "broke up the term so seminars could consist of two-week sessions that could be taught by visiting experts, leaving concentrated time for studios."
Brady finds fault with the RISD structure, and instead proposes splitting the typical semester into two equal modules of approximately seven to eight weeks each. "A modular structure allows related academic classes to be taught before, rather than simultaneous with, the studio course."  In doing so, students would have the necessary information prior to beginning their design problem and would be able to relate this material throughout the entire design process. By being able to focus on lecture courses without the time commitments of the studio, students are more able to focus on the materials being presented in those courses. By separating lecture and studio into two separate modules, the conflict between the two in terms of the students' time can be eliminated. The split semester can also promote innovation and team-teaching by freeing up the teaching load of those who typically teach lecture courses at a time that enables them to assist in the design studio, and v! ice versa. By having a shortened and more intensified studio, there is greater opportunity to bring in guest critics and to allow students to be involved in design/build and community-based projects. An additional benefit for faculty is that the split semester allows them to take "mini-sabbaticals," where they can focus on their own research. It also provides time for faculty to work together to explore ways to integrate their courses and requirements. While the split semester may seem like a radical approach, it is a way to address many of our current problems.
Architectural education in its present state has drawn a wide range of criticism. It is attacked by practitioners for not training students in such a way that they are immediately useful in the workplace. It is attacked by other building professionals for not teaching students to understand their roles in the building process and for being unprepared to deal with construction in anything more than a cursory manner. It is attacked by educators in other fields for producing students without an intellectual foundation that would allow them adequate entrŽe into advanced courses in other disciplines. It is attacked by teachers of building technology for placing too much emphasis on history and theory (the courses with the most direct link to the rest of the academic community. It is attacked by those who teach history and theory and the other "core courses" for placing too much emphasis on the design studio. And, it is attacked by its students for being an outdated sys! tem which lacks the ability to prepare them for an ever-changing profession.
With critics in such a wide range of camps, we cannot continue to ignore the fact that architectural education is in desperate need of change. We can no longer teach architecture in the same ways that we did in the days before the Second World War. Our profession has changed, as have the teachers that educate our future practitioners. The newest addition to architecture programs, the research-oriented faculty, have remained a small and not-so-vocal minority. This, however, is beginning to change. The university system, of which we are a part, has a set of values and expectations which we have been turning our backs on for over a hundred years. Under increasing pressure from the university, more and more faculty will need Ph.D.s and a strong record of scholarly research and publication in the hopes of attaining tenure.
Robert Gutman and Michael Crosbie have voiced concern over this trend, saying that "more emphasis is placed on theoretical speculation divorced from any notion of how architects and architecture exist outside of the academy. The focus is on architecture as a discipline, rather than as a profession." There is no reason for us to have to lose one for the sake of the other. Practitioners, educators, and students must work together to reconcile all of the varying, yet interrelated, aspects of the profession. This includes issues of research and practice in our field, as well as work in other related disciplines. We should all work to establish avenues of dialogue for the betterment of our built environment. Dialogues within our profession (between educators, students, and practitioners) and with those in other disciplines will provide the opportunity for the architectural profession (both educators and practitioners) to reexamine the nature of our profession and determin! e the appropriate direction for schools of architecture.
These discussions can be initiated by setting up four basic goals: 1) developing an intellectual foundation for the profession of architecture, 2) promoting a curriculum which has a focus on other academic fields, 3) promoting integration between studio courses and the core lectures, and 4) removing the hierarchical structure that exists in our current educational system. Once these goals have been satisfied, the gap between research and practice will be diminished and the interdependency of the two can be explored.By incorporating research and its methods early into architectural education, students will grow to understand the role of research in architectural design. We must value research as an integral part of design. As Sharon Sutton asserts, to be successfil in the changing arena of architectural design, "it is critical for architects to accept advanced study, not as a 'stepsister,' but as a 'partner' in design."