Products of Practice: From code to plan to code

A research seminar that critically mines historic systems of representation, instrumentation, and the product (or media) of the architect in relationship to the evolving societal role of the discipline, practice, and profession. Our goal is to understand design practice as a dynamic and ever-changing pursuit in order to imagine practice futures; to use this research to create a bridge between discipline and practice.

Within the cacophony of contemporary media, under the pressures of financial instruments, and with an expectation of artificial intelligence, this practice seminar looks to the past to explore the product of the architect as an artifact of circumstance, framing and projecting practice potentials now and into the future. Critically tracking the development of our practice, we will research design context, instruments of service, and representational formats as cultural and temporal constructs that limit or expand the role of the architect in practice. Our collective goal is an exploration of the relationship between – and the limits of – discipline, practice, and profession to better understand their structural potentials.

Course content will be organized thematically, exploring the origins of contemporary practice and its products at any given moment – from built form to model to drawing to code – as the architect evolved from master builder to author to project manager. The work of Vitruvius, Baldassarre Peruzzi, Leon Battista Alberti, Peter Cook, Cedric Price, Christopher Alexander, Peter Eisenman, and New Urbanism, among others, will be assessed within their cultural context. Legal and technical issues, client types, and structures of fee and control, will be considered. Students will develop critical positions on the renewed debate between empirical vs. cultural practice, on mediatic production and instruments of service for single projects vs. systems of design deployment and process design.

Synchronous class time will be focused on discussion and debate. Guest panels from practice and related sectors will be assembled to add perspective to specific topics, particularly around the issue of emerging modes of production and instrumentation. Asynchronous formats will include pre-recorded lectures and one-on-one or small group research charrettes.

Working individually or in pairs, students will research a specific type of architectural production in relationship to its evolution within the discipline and practice. Students will synthesize their topical research within a shared research framework to yield a collective research publication. Final course output will aggregate and draw from this collective knowledge to speculate on the future product of the architect.

There are no prerequisites for this course, which is intended as an interdisciplinary discussion. While this course is focused on the evolution of the product of the architect, the emergence and co-evolution of the related disciplines of landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design are essential to the conversation.


This course will be taught online through Friday, February 4th.