The State of Our Schools


08-April / Experiential Model Competition


“Details are much more than subordinate elements, they can be regarded as the minimal units of signification in the architectural production of meanings.”  Marco Frascari, The Tell-the-Tale Detail.

This large scale spatial model explores how distinct architectural systems can be composed, together, to shape experience.  You might explore a single point-of-view, or the model could investigate shifting conditions and varied experiential states

Architectural systems include: structures, envelopes, spatial sequences, apertures, circulation, material qualities, natural and artificial illumination, etc.  Experiential states include changes in activity, mode, environment, season, metropolitan context, daylight and illumination, etc.

This review will take the form of a DESIGN COMPETITION, to be held in Crown Hall, and judged by (I) students and a (II) panel of invited guests.  Further details regarding the design competition to follow.


Using the agendas,  plans, sections and models  developed over the past weeks, select a representative section to convey the spatial experiences of your school proposal.  Models must be between 3/16”=1’-0” and ½” = 1’-0” scale (with bias towards the larger) and should represent at least 5000sf portion of your design.  The model MUST be able to fit within a volume of 60”W x 30”D x 48” tall.   The model should be both sectional and spatial, and should convey interior space, exterior enclosure, structural logic and site relations.


  • understand the ways that space generates sensorial and social effects
  • investigating how models act as a narrative device
  • conveying how an approach to the parts relates to the whole
  • develop project specific techniques and craft
  • explore the implications of design in section
  • iterate between physical and digital processes
  • experience a competitive project working environment
  • accelerate your project’s development


  • Does the experience of your building contribute to its use in meaningful ways?
  • Does your model communicate/embody a primary design logic for the project?
  • Does the model communicate the way architectural systems advance an aesthetic agenda?
  • Does your investigation of details reveal an overall concept or strategy for developing the rest of the building?

Design Competition / Friday April 08 2016

Craft a high-quality physical sectional and spatial model using the parameters provided above to convey the essential and compelling nature of your project.  The singular means of presentation suggest that you should deliver the very highest levels of aesthetic ambition, craft and care.

01-April / Plans Sections Models


If plans and sections support the development of a design logic then models allow you to further understand and develop the experiential effect of these systems in three dimensions.

Respond to this week’s workshops on structure and envelope.  Convey the relationship between program, structure, envelope(s) and spatial experience via well-crafted:

  1. Building Plans    1/8” scale (or larger) with site context.
  2. Building Sections    1/8” scale (or larger) with site context.
  3. Building Model    1/8” scale (or larger) with site context.
  4. Site Plan    1/16” with ground floor or roof plan indicated.



23-Mar / Workshop / Structures / Bracing

Challenge Conditions

Assembly – 120 min
Paris of students to construct flexible framework in one of the following shapes:

  • cube
  • tower
  • span (bridge)
  • donut
  • cantilever
  • bar-shape

There may be duplicates of a shape but not omissions within the studio section.

Bracing – 60 min
Once built, students will explore bracing strategies – adding brackets and/or tension members.  Students are to document (before and after bracing) using orthographic or axonometric  photographs, to evaluate their strategy for resisting these three types of movements:

  • Lateral
  • Torsional
  • Vertical

Apply to Studio Project – 60 min

  • Develop Load Path Models – arrows indicating direction and magnitude of loads, drawn onto abstracted cardboard models of the project’s structure.
  • Define Framing Models to inform the project.

Advice on Assembly

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 09.23.49 AM.png

Materials to be purchased (teams of 2) and any prefabrication of parts to be completed before class.

    1. Dowels
      40 dowels @ 1/8″ X 36″ pre-cut to 6″ lengths.  (22¢ ea at Home Depot)
      See appendix for cutting dowels
    2. Base
      A wood base, 22″ to 32″ square, 1/2-3/4″ thick with 1/8″ holes on a 5″ grid – pre-drilled in shop or during workshop with a Dremel.  Pink foam may work but it hasn’t been tested.
    3. Connectors
      1/2″ diam rubber bands (at Walgreens, for ponytails, in the hair aisle – $1.50 for 500 pack)
    4. Bracing
      Heavyweight cardboard or foam core for brackets.
      Binder clips or hot glue.
      Dental floss or similarly inelastic inexpensive material for cable bracing.
    5. Tools
      Ruler, Pencil, Straightedge, X-Acto
      Dremel, optional

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 16.45.23 PM.png

Pre-cutting Dowels

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 16.47.01 PM.png

21-Mar / Workshops / Envelope(s)

1. Many Envelopes / Many Environments / 60 min Drawing / 30 min Discussion

Referencing one of the building precedents provided, create distinct – but related in scale – diagrams of the many envelopes and zones:

  • Environmental Zones (temperature, humidity, llght Quality, acoustic, etc.)
  • Programmatic Zones (juxtaposition, superimposition, gradients of use, etc.)
  • Material Zones (type, composition, scales, transition, etc.)
  • Envelopes in Plan and Section


2. Primary Envelope / 60 min Drawing / 30 min Discussion

Referencing one of the wall sections in the precedents provided, diagram a detail section assembly (roof to facade to foundation): revealing the performance and thicknesses of its various layers.  For comparison, some graphic conventions are provided:   Diagrams may be drawn by hand or in Adobe Illustrator and printed

11_Workshop_Building Systems.pngPrecedents:

3. Apply  / 60 Minutes – Create parallel diagrams (Part 1) for your current studio project.