From Inception to Realization: Three Museum Case Studies

The process of design is continuous. At the inception of a project, we sketch, analyze with scale overlays, and develop preliminary massing models. Months later, we sit with expert consultants debating the appropriate technical solution for a steel node detail or a skylight. On site, in a supervisory role, we continue to design solutions for those challenges that arise over the course of construction. From the initial sketch of an idea to walking through the building alongside the public, it is a journey which involves a considerable accrued knowledge over time, and the ability to orchestrate diverse teams of collaborators.

In three lectures, each followed by a discussion, we will provide a step-by-step analysis of the design process, from inception to realization. In each case, we will explore the process from the initiation of program, site analysis, development of a concept, and its technical evolution through to construction.   

The case studies will be three museums delivered by our practice, devoted to three different subjects, located in three different geographic settings, and utilizing three different construction technologies – the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas; Yad Vashem in Jerusalem; and the ArtScience Museum in Singapore.

The diversity of program, setting, and construction technology will enable us to focus on common denominators of design, development, and realization, from embryonic concepts to shop drawings and construction details.

To follow the three lectures, we will invite course participants to the Safdie Architects studio in Somerville to see drawings, models, and other artifacts from the Safdie Archive, and to discuss the projects in detail with the firm’s Architects that were central to the design teams.

To receive credit, students will be required to attend all four sessions. After each lecture there will be a discussion session.  At the end of the course, students will prepare a paper on their findings from the course.

This 1-unit course meets four times: February 28, March 6, March 20, March 27.  Attendance is required.

This course is not open for cross-registration.

GSD students who would like to take this course should add it to their Crimson Cart but not officially enroll. These students will automatically be enrolled in this course by the Registrar’s Office on Monday, February 5th. GSD students do not need to obtain departmental permission for taking this one additional unit, however, additional fees may apply if enrollment exceeds maximum credits.