A New Framework for Practice

During the past several years, top-tier architects, landscape architects and urban planners practicing in the major economies of the world have enjoyed an unprecedented abundance of work. For the most part, practitioners remain uninterested in the specific conditions and causes for this abundance, even less so in the profound transformations of the world which make their professional opportunities possible. In glossing over the deeper truths underpinning our moment of hyper-activity, we fail to grasp the real potential of our own ideas, competences, methods, commitments and priorities. We also fail to grasp our responsibility to work with a better understanding of the consequences of our actions. This seminar will take on the task of developing and documenting a new framework for practice (in developed economies), based initially on a conceptual model developed by the instructor within the past several months. The conceptual model is derived from recent international competitions, actual commissions being performed in the offices of leading design practices, recent post-graduate studios about country strategies, and cross-disciplinary research. The course will consist of lectures, individual and team efforts to develop and document various aspects of a new practice framework. The final product(s) of the seminar will be determined with the class; but at minimum will involve the documentation of the practice framework and critical essays on various aspects of the class\’ ivestigations. Students enrolled in the seminar are expected to be able to collaborate, conduct research, develop ideas critically, and integrate content from different disciplines. Topics include: (1) Major transformations of practice since WWII and their respective drivers — craft focused; specialized knowledge focused; development and strategy focused; (2) Confluence of major forces driving projects, clients and markets population growth, demographic shifts and patterns of urbanization; environmental impacts of human habitation and activity; development and spread of neo-liberal economic systems; technology; cultural shifts; (3) Nation-state and regional/city-state competition — birth of top-tier development strategy; strategic forms of spatial development (e.g., economic clusters, free trade zones, etc.); (4) Cultural shifts and lifestyle impacts on spatial aggregation and organization; (5) Potential implications of global warming and other large-scale disasters for practice; (6) Changing roles and responsibilities of professionals; (7) Organization of practice and the functional relationships between strategy, content, design, and project implementation. Enrollment in this seminar is limited to 20 students.