Nov
6
6:03 PM18:03

Portfolio Design Workshop

Margaret Fletcher, Associate Professor of Architecture at Auburn University and author of the newly released publication, Constructing the Persuasive Portfolio: the only primer you’ll ever need, will be conducting a portfolio design workshop in Atlanta from 6:30 to 8:30 on Monday, November 6. The event will be held at the Academy of Medicine at 875 W Peachtree St NE.

This workshop will cover essential ideas and processes to design, create and produce an effective portfolio. The workshop will be a fast-paced event, covering a wide range of portfolio issues and will present effective strategies for design solutions. While no design process is truly linear, Fletcher’s categorization of the complex architectural portfolio design process into achievable segments creates a straightforward and understandable step-by-step method. The workshop will utilize plenty of portfolio examples from current students and young professionals.

Don’t forget to register! The event is free for students. If you wish to receive Continuing Education Credits through the American Institute of Architects, see information at registration site below. The event is organized and sponsored by AIA Georgia Equity in Architecture.

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Mar
30
2:00 PM14:00

Portfolio Design Workshop

  • University of Texas at San Antonio (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

The workshop will cover many topics relevant to the creation and development of a design portfolio including: documenting work, portfolio flexibility, portfolio size/orientation, what projects to include, how to organize projects, designing the graphic layout, grid and, alignment systems, hierarchy and ordering systems, typographic strategies, text in your portfolio, determining portfolio format, print versus digital portfolio.

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Mar
11
9:00 AM09:00

Presentation: Communicating Ethics

The design portfolio is one of the most important design exercises of a student’s career. It is the document that not only represents all of the hard work they’ve accomplished but also serves as an indicator of how they consider the world around them. The design problem of the portfolio embodies both the act of planning and the act of doing. To design and produce a successful portfolio, there needs to be an understanding of the complex design systems at work in order to properly structure a portfolio to be able to visually communicate the ideas that have formed and shaped the work included within the portfolio. Through the portfolio the student is not only being evaluated on their formal design work, but also on the design of the portfolio and how they’ve used this opportunity to frame their ideas.

A significant factor of being a successful designer is having the ability to parse through an incredible amount of information and discover interrelated themes. It is a skill unique to design culture and exists in the realm of design thinking and design knowledge. It is important for each student to understand how they, themselves, think so that they can demonstrate it to others. The portfolio should be designed to display this design thinking. If the complexities of how one thinks is understood, then one can begin to understand and define how they might represent and explain all of the diverse knowledge that has gone into each design project.1

The First Year Architecture Program at Auburn University focuses on the practice of the visual communication of architectural ideas or the art of defining, describing, presenting, representing and re-representing. This paper seeks to discuss a pedagogy predicated on the understanding that effective communication of architectural ideas is firmly embedded in the design of the representational artifact and not only in the act of architectural design. The primary goal of the course sequence is to foster a learning process where both strains of design (representation and artifact) are intertwined and constantly and consistently evolving.

In such a complex and ambitious project, the students naturally must learn the essential skills of architectural representation but they must also develop fundamental skills related to documentation and reflection. The portfolio design project ultimately becomes a multi-year project defined by broad, graphic, systems thinking. It is an organizational system that has to be re-focused and re-tooled as the student progresses through their academic (and professional) career. If comprehensive systems thinking regarding the reflection of their own work is taught in the beginning of design education, students are better prepared to develop successful habits of reconsideration and re-positioning of their respective design challenges. This paper presents a method of system thinking developed to organize the complex reflective relationships needed for successful portfolio design and are defined as: the visual narrative, content narrative and project narrative.2

1. Fletcher, Margaret. Constructing the Persuasive Portfolio: the only primer you’ll ever need. Routledge Publishers. New York and London. 2016.

2. Ibid.

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Feb
27
2:00 PM14:00

Presentation: Anamorphic to Orthographic

The First Year Architecture Program at Auburn University focuses on the practice of the visual communication of architectural ideas or the art of defining, describing, presenting, representing and re-representing. These objectives are met through the implementation of a year-long Visual Communications course sequence embedded within the architectural design studio and recognizes foundation level design students not only need to understand principles of architectural design but also must understand fundamentally how to communicate those ideas.

This paper seeks to discuss a pedagogy predicated on the understanding that effective communication of architectural ideas is firmly embedded in the design of the representational artifact and not only in the act of architectural design. The primary goal of the course sequence is to foster a learning process where both strains of design (representation and artifact) are intertwined and constantly and consistently evolving.

Presented in this paper is an in-depth look at one project, the anamorphic projection and its representational artifact: the composite unfolded plan and elevation drawing. This assignment is the first assignment in the foundation level unit.  this drawing relies on the complexity of the orthographic representation of an anamorphic projection to convey simple principles of orthographic projections.

In such a complex and ambitious project, the students naturally must learn the essential skills of architectural representation: orthographic and freehand drawing, research methods and resources and studio materials and methods. In addition to these fundamental design skills, though this project we seek to invest in the students a higher understanding of these fundamental principles that often cannot be delivered directly, but must be approached in an indirect yet persistent manner. These collateral ideals include both the habits of mind—curiosity, fluid and critical thinking—and the habits of work—reliance on colleagues for an emergent ecology of production, initiative and self-reliance, organized persistence, and work done daily. In other words, explicit, direct instruction about a subject is not the same as the application of ideas during real, problematic situations. This intersection between knowledge and know-how implies an embodiment of knowledge and demands a hands-on approach to learning.

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Oct
17
2:00 PM14:00

Presentation: Foundation Studio to Rural Studio

In collaboration with Rusty Smith. In today’s future, knowledge is indeed valuable. But know-how is invaluable and the architecture students at Auburn University have the know-how to get things done. As a direct reflection of the stated mission and values of the architecture program, we believe in the importance of action. Therefore we also believe that the best way to learn how to do something is by actually doing it. As a Land Grant institution, our architecture program is deeply rooted in the ethos of outreach and service learning. In close collaboration with architectural and industry professionals, consultants, and community leaders, our students work on meaningful, public interest design projects that have real life impacts. Through this context-intensive work, our students come to understand that design is a material act that bears profound social consequences. As such, the issues of making, craft, manufacture and assembly all have meaning that resonates much deeper than a simple understanding of form and aesthetics. Thus the development of “know-how” (the embodiment of knowledge through the act of making and building) becomes the unique characteristic that enables our students to emerge as socially engaged, active and truly impactful design professionals. These are our core values.

Ours is a design-build program and from their first year to their last, our students are immersed in an education in which they are instructed in the value of impact. Learning through their respective collaborative, community-based design-build projects, they quickly come to understand that they don’t need to wait until they are professionals to make a resonating impact upon the place in which they find themselves. The Architecture Program as a whole embeds in each year level some aspect of community-based collaboration and design-build strategies as a pedagogical framework in an effort to push the educational ethos of learning by making out of the representational mode of the architectural model and into the material discourse of actual-sized architectural fabrications and assemblies.

Our principles of community-based design-build education are rooted in the Vitruvian virtues of architecture, “firmitas, utilitas, et venustas.”1 These virtues translate directly to “firmness, commodity and delight.” Within the scaffolding of our pedagogical framework, we think of these architectural virtues as part of our core principles and translate them as follows: firmitas as building performance, utilitas as environmental stewardship and venustas as social relevance. 

This paper seeks to discuss four frameworks countering the Foundation Unit community-based, design-build project, South’s BEST with the resulting Rural Studio projects designed by these student cohorts as Fifth Year Rural Studio students through the lens of the three principles, firmitas, utilitas et venustas. The frameworks are: 1) mediating through scale, texture and pattern, 2) component-based architectural assemblies, 3) material repurposing and 4) the dynamic nature of architectural systems.

1. Vitruvius: The Ten Books on Architecture, Vitruvius Pollio, M.H. Morgan, H.L. Warren, 1960.

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Oct
3
11:30 AM11:30

Word | Image

Our ability as designers to communicate and represent what we can imagine is crucial to the expression, understanding and ultimately the success of our work. We are not only responsible for designing the inputs (ideas) but we also must design the outputs (artifacts) as well as the communication of these artifacts.

The visual communication of architectural ideas is additionally complex as these representations are not only required to explain the conceptual framework of a project but also to convey the reality of the artifact (building). These representations become artifacts themselves while still representing the ultimate full-scale version of the modeled object.

As professionals we understand immediately the inherent value in successful communication methods both visual and verbal. Architecture students, however, tend to focus on the architectural design of the project artifacts without understanding that the representational artifacts must be designed as well in order to be compelling communication tools. The effective design of the architectural diagram, for example, is as important as the design of the actual architectural artifact and in fact the two are symbiotically tied to ensure the communication of the design ideas.

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Apr
4
3:00 PM15:00

The Practice of Practice

The First Year Architecture Program engages in a professional service project each year in collaboration with the College of Engineering and the College of Science and Mathematics. The studio designs the physical atmosphere—a large-scale stage set—for a two-day robotics competition, South’s BEST. The project is currently in its tenth year.

South’s BEST is the first project in each cohort’s education that is a full-scale fabrication and is the beginning of the design-build sequence in their design education at Auburn University which ultimately can culminate in the Rural Studio Experience. Each year level has embedded in its pedagogy some aspect of design-build strategies in an effort push the educational ethos of learning by making out of the material scale of the architectural model and into the material scale of full-scale architectural fabrication and assembly.

The project is facilitated as if in an architectural practice; the students have a budget they manage, a client they collaborate with, professional sound, lighting and production consultants, a design and fabrication deadline, an installation schedule and a maintenance role. The primary collaborators with the students are professionals within their respective fields. Collaboration in this sense recognizes the fact that students can’t learn the discipline of architecture if they are collaborating with students in other fields who are in the process of learning their own discipline. The installation schedule for South’s BEST is less than eight hours and begins at midnight. The entire construct has to be able to be quickly, efficiently and without undo wear on the assembly, broken-down, transported and re-assembled on site in the Auburn University Arena, ready for the robotics competition to begin. This assembly process requires a certain amount of ingenuity from the students when thinking of the materiality of the constructions.

This paper seeks to discuss three of the most radical material choices and assembly methods over the past ten years from large-scale visqueen inflatable constructions to kinetic walking contraptions to more normative flat-pack systems. The discussion focuses on determining the variance in pedagogical value of the project through the lens of the material selections and related issues of material cost and material waste.

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Apr
13
10:00 AM10:00

Animated Inquiry of the Physical Construct

The creation of a design sequence that facilitates the unencumbered instigation of a true creative process can be manifested through the exchange of modes of inquiry between two-dimensional and three-dimensional spatial constructs and analog and digital assemblies. It is this iterative, flexible stream of production that strives to develop a facile and nimble designer who understands both what they are doing and why they are doing it: simultaneously thinking and making.

The exploration into the development of a problem designed to create the situation where students are actively making and actively thinking through the making is a challenging objective. Critical thinking is often said to be manifested in the outcome of the work; how can we visibly communicate this process of thinking? It is a particularly difficult objective to measure. How do you measure curiosity, creativity or critical thinking? How can this type of work be visually communicated?

When we ask students to be reflective, to think about what they are doing or making, it often happens at the conclusion of a design process at a time where the work is complete. This reflection could be at the end of an assignment or at the conclusion of a spurt of productivity.  In either case, the thinking happens after the doing or the making. This paper seeks to set the framework for a pedagogy developed for the foundation design sequence at Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture that embeds both thinking a making in the design problem to be directly visualized through the design process of the assigned work. The work is visually demonstrated to be both reflective and productive.

The process of such an assignment requires moving students from the absolute beginning of their design education through a series of assignments that are unfamiliar to them in visualization, creation and thought. The project moves through two dimensional spatial studies designed and fabricated through analog methods and then translated and collided in a three dimensional digital model. This translation between analog and digital, two-dimensional and three-dimensional methods encourages understanding between direct spatial translations. The digital model is then transformed again as it is further developed through analog assembly methods.

The thinking and making construct or method is further explored through the photographic documentation of the physical assembly of the three dimensional model. Students are instructed to design the visual representation of their respective construction methods through stop motion and time-lapse animations. This reflective film-making during the process of physically assembling the three dimensional object forces a reflective mode of work during the process of the work. Students must be able to visually articulate in their stop-motion and time-lapse animations, the breadth of their understanding of the design and assembly of their respective constructs.

These methods of production—actively thinking, making and visually representing this process—are decidedly complex for the beginning design student but it is this complexity that initiates an understanding of the intricacy of the design process.

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Apr
5
4:00 PM16:00

Presentation: Reactive Instruction, Fast Construction

In collaboration with Ryan Salvas. Modern art and architecture came into being as something first glimpsed, later recognized, and finally realized thanks to a series of clunky, often awkward and frequently fortunate ideas. The legacy of the twentieth-century art and architectural timeline is that of countless stumbling discoveries by practitioners who were—especially at the dawn of their careers—discovering a new process or form by doing something else entirely. The innovative mindset is one that is not best left idle; it requires just the right blend of frenetic pace, abstract process, multi-directional linkages, and reactive flexibility to foster a sustainable imagination. This paper seeks to set the framework for a pedagogy predicated on understanding, predicting, and capitalizing on the catalyst in design innovation. One response, which is being practiced in the foundation architecture studios at Auburn University, is to not resist the evolution of the field, but to understand how to teach design innovation by teasing out the inventive process, oftentimes a product of time and toil, through fast-paced, reactive teaching.

Presented in this paper is a glimpse into an educational process. It is not a model, but an ethos developed through debate, occasional lapses into stricture, and continuous challenge to an emerging sense of literacy in the studio environment. The primary goal is to foster a learning process based on maintaining an iterative drive and allowing for emergent ecologies of production, creativity and innovation to develop.

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Apr
4
to Apr 5

Poster Presentation: The Practice of Practice

  • Nottingham Trent University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

The First Year Architecture Program at Auburn University focuses on the practice of practice or the art of synthesizing thinking and acting. The objectives of the studio course concentrates on habits of mind and habits of work—how you think and how you act. It is the very nature of studio culture to embrace such objectives understanding and conveying studio as a class, studio as a place and studio as an activity. The transference of this understanding of studio culture to the beginning design student lies squarely in practice as in practice makes perfect—do it over and over and over again—as well as in the practice of design, synthesizing thinking and doing, the very nature of the act of the profession.

Studio teaching is often defined through the physical outcome of projects and the specific, tacit objectives these outcomes directly address. However, it should be the constant flexible, nimble negotiation of the instructor to maintain a fluid emergent ecology of expectations achieved not through project completion but rather through the collective experience of the studio. This experience relies upon the strength of the collective to develop skills around collaboration as well as self-reliance. It relies upon the constant drive toward the development of a curious mind that understands the value in persistence, of work as an investment, in disengaging in order to re-engage, in multiple streams of investigation, in material creativity, in delegation and dependence of and in others, in adaptability and agility, in the difficult but true reality of studio culture…. the success of failing and understanding that this means failing forward—the value of habits of mind and habits of work.

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Feb
6
3:30 PM15:30

On Imagination: Conversations with Architects, Film Screening

Fletcher is Producer of this film in partnership with Merrill Elam and Helen Han. This 90-minute film looks at imagination through the musings of some of today’s most creative architects. It includes conversations with twenty-five architects: David Adjaye, Alan Balfour, Jennifer Bonner, Henry Cobb, Preston Scott Cohen, Lise Anne Couture, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Steven Holl, Rem Koolhaas, Diane Lewis, Thom Mayne, Michael Meredith, Rafael Moneo, William Morgan, Monica Ponce de Leon, Hani Rashid, Hilary Sample, Martha Schwartz, Michael Sorkin, Nader Tehrani, Elías Torres, Billie Tsien, Michael Van Valkenburgh, and Tod Williams.

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Mar
30
10:00 AM10:00

Sustainability Kills Innovation

In collaboration with Ryan Salvas. This paper seeks to set the framework for a pedagogy predicated on understanding, predicting, and capitalizing on the catalyst in design innovation.  As sustainability, integrated project delivery, and building information modeling become increasingly relevant, and even mandatory in the profession, a design culture of expediency and efficiency has the potential to overshadow the many benefits of an architectural process laden with inquisitive discovery.  One response, which is being practiced in the foundation architecture studios at Auburn University, is to not resist the evolution of the field, but to understand how to teach the sustainability of design innovation by teasing out the inventive processes, oftentimes a product of time and toil, through fast-paced, reactive teaching. This pedagogical process is based on maintaining an iterative drive, allowing for emergent ecologies of production to develop, understanding the framework of goals without the direct knowledge of the outcomes as well as the encouragement of a creative and innovative response to evolving circumstance.  

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