Foundations of Practice

For students in the fifth semester of the MArch I degree program, this course examines models and issues that define contemporary professional practice. Requiring students to examine a broad range of legal, financial, organizational, and ethical topics, the course prepares students to engage and lead in the production of the built environment. The course takes advantage of the multidisciplinary programs of the GSD, bringing a wide breath of experienced professionals to share insights and develop the tools necessary for productive collaborations within the complex space of specific professional, practical, and disciplinary obligations. 

Each week the course explores professional practice through a critical reading of primary texts that frame key concepts and models, as well as relevant case studies and applications for stress testing the boundaries of these models. 

Course format: Combination of lectures, guest lectures, and workshops. Each subject area contains supplemental material that provides standard references and supplemental case studies that highlight the boundaries and thresholds of practice. This is intended to provide students with an exposure to critical aspects of practice—from accounting to contracting and from project delivery to professional ethics. In addition, students will explore the wide-ranging roles of respective professional associations in shaping contractual relationships, public policy, and the parameters of practice itself. In more immediate terms, students will explore: 

– Client communications and engagement; 

– The drafting and execution of standard AIA contract series; 

– The interpretation and due process considerations of local government regulations; 

– The strategic advancement of public design reviews or public procurement opportunities; and 

– The financial economics of operating a practice. 

Connecting each of these dimensions of practice are the codes of professional ethics and various elements of statutory and case law that collectively define the professional standard of care. The intent is for students to develop a reflexive understanding of their duty to clients, third-party consultants, and the general public consistent with their obligations as design professionals and community leaders. This course serves as a foundation from which students may develop further interests and skills in the GSD’s professional practice distributional elective course offerings. 


Please note this course will meet online through 9/15.

The first class meeting will be on Wednesday, September 1st. the rest of the semester, classes will meet during the scheduled time.