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LESSONS FROM PRACTICE:Architectural Education and the Notion of Critical Inquiry

By : Kevin Mitchell

The second-year studio presented here investigates the potential of reducing the gaps between the academy and professional practice by using the results of practice as a teaching tool. Part of a two-semester sequence intended to introduce students to the fundamentals of architectural form and space, the design studio emphasizes discipline-specific notions of inquiry, exploration and process. The range of fundamental concerns is addressed through in-depth analyses of exemplary buildings in order to discover how practicing architects have incorporated basic design principles into overall design strategies. The "design in the style of" methods that characterized architectural education at the École des Beaux Arts and the pattern books which served as sources for 19th and early 20th century practice in North America provided definitive models that were subject to limited interpretation. In contrast, the analyses projects described here do not provide "answers" to questions regarding style, but rather focus questions on a range of concerns which are fundamental to architectural practice. Employing exemplary projects in beginning-level studios assists in demonstrating that highly regarded practitioners aspire to a synthesis of program/use requirements, conceptual ideas, structural solutions and constructional systems. The fact that the students were able to make concrete connections between their activities and the profession resulted in an intensity and sense of purpose that is evident in both the process and products of the studio.
Keywords : Architectural Education, Beginning Design Education,Analysis, Design Strategies, Architectural Practice

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