Wow! We have recently had the studio presentations and the elective presentations for this semester’s classes. The variety and caliber of academic endeavors being undertaken is nearly overwhelming.  A sampling of the topics to be of interest are:

Professor Clutter’s “Faith” Studio:  In this studio, Professor Clutter uses technology to understand the creation of a new type of space, that of “exurban.”   Analyzing this suburban type space through GIS and more traditional means, an understanding of a new building typology emerges, and the reasons for the creation of the “Megachurch” become more apparent.  Simultaneously taken into consideration is the Megachurch’s close relationship to media and advertisement; we begin to see this typology not only as a place that exists within the physical realm but also one that exists in the digital realm.  In general, throughout our work as students in architecture, we often are faced with this dilemma of marketing work through the digital yet being confronted with the act of making the physical.

 Professor McCullough’s studio “Imports” focused on bringing much of the avant-garde and even well established design ideas of Europe to America, particularly a part of Western Michigan which will be the primary site for the studio.  He succinctly stated about America design, “I love my country but I do think we should still see other people.”  This studio will engage in the exciting conversation of design as a global culture while also addressing residential typologies, which need the utmost attention here in America.

 An elective topic I found interesting talked about the conflicting “Creative Destruction: Destructive Creation.”  In this course, a focus in placed on the ramifications and cultural motivations to destroy part of the old city in favor of building the new.  A modern day example, the Shanghai World Expo, exhibits such a destruction of the old to make way for the creation of the new.  

 Professor Kennedy spoke of architecture detailing but what piqued my curiosity is his description of construction documents being connected parametrically to specifications.  As we see BIM transform the production/design operations of architects, such a suggestion is plausible and highly likely to happen in the near future.  Not only does it reduce the effort on the part of the architect and decrease RFI’s, it ultimately improves the architect’s product, allowing him or her to devote more time to design.

During a discussion with my roommate, I came upon a realization that helps me understand my own role in the development of our profession of architecture.  A number of professors are pursuing digital design and fabrication as a means to promote the architect as “master-builder,” returning the architect to the role of a maker, rather than merely a teller of ideas.  In this new role (or re-investment in this old role), the architect is able to take on greater control, and thus greater influence and power into the design.  As my focus at graduate school is in both the architecture and engineering colleges, my exploration into the engineering, construction side of design follows a similar vein; my experience in this area will return to me the knowledge of “master-builder,” one who takes on a more primary role in the construction of the places designed.  Both avenues are valid places of research and exploration in this exciting age!