Issues in the Practice of Architecture

This course, for students in the fourth semester of the MArch I program, introduces basic issues in practice and the profession of architecture, challenging the student to critically examine professional, political, commercial, and other problems in current practice. It covers various architect, client, site, and program types to expose students to a broad spectrum of issues. Each unit contains a case study that describes the real experience of practicing architects, including several architects of national and international reputation. The cases focus on obtaining a commission; conflicts with a client over construction costs, the pluses and minuses of a specialized practice, the role of the architect in new forms of project delivery, resolving design conflicts between the community and the client, collaboration; making contractors perform, working in another country, and the use of new technology in design. There are nine units, each with material supporting the case study. So the student is exposed to related topics, such as standard contract forms, the role of professional organizations and government regulation, the economics of practice, dealing with public design review of projects, architectural competitions, etc. In addition, each unit has a think-piece or \”rocket\” that raises questions arising from the case study. Some of the units have companion exercises that develop professional or ethical issues for class discussion. Each student presents a term paper, resulting from research and field work in subject areas related to the units. There is a final exam.Three or four of the architects whose cases are studied visit the class and further explicate the architect\’s response to the problems he or she had to confront.