Frameworks of Practice

Since the dawn of the technological society that emerged after World War II, the normative practice of architecture, particularly in the United States, has gone through a series of paradigm shifts as specific adaptations to significant changes in population, political economy, globalization, etc. These shifts substantively altered the historic relationships established in the previous century between the Discipline, Profession and Practice of architecture. Any critical discussion about contemporary practice needs to sort out the changing relationships between these three domains and their underlying drivers and causes.

Internal to the practice of architecture itself, there are parallel lines of development that have marked the diversity, scope and scale of work, as well as the means by which work is performed and realized. The narrative of the demand for architecture; the various strategies that architects have employed to secure their work, participation and standing; the changing requirements of knowledge, process and organization needed to successfully practice; and the siting of practice within an increasingly complex constellation of production, value-creation and societal relevance are essential ingredients to a framework of practice.

Looking ahead, cities, as well as suburban and exurban areas, will increasingly operate on a number of systemic platforms (e.g., data and communications, energy, mobility, lifestyle and work, etc.), bringing about profound changes in the conduct and organization of daily life as well as the design of built environment. Barring some profound change in the global systems of political economy and governance, the coming time period holds the possibility of a kind of “Gold Rush” for dominance and monetization of platform assets and services by major players (e.g., governments, corporations and universities), with a myriad of smaller enterprises and investors in tow. Architects, landscape architects and urban designers, sited between critical societal and environmental issues, and the transformation of built environment and its operational systems to a platform format have on their plate both unprecedented opportunities and unprecedented responsibilities.

A third wave of transformational technologies and applications, now emerging from decades of gestation, add to this picture of a radical re-make of the practice space and potential for the emergence of new participants and enterprise models/formats.

Purpose of the course: 1. Examine architecture through the optics of the Discipline, Profession and Practice — the issues of knowledge domains, development of technique, analytics and technologies, interdisciplinary collaboration; ethics, social responsibility and regulation; value and innovation within different social, economic, political, and environmental contexts; 2. Explore the range/diversity of current practices (including for-profit and non-profit organizations) and the re-framing of our participation in and impacts on changing social, political, economic, cultural, technological and material landscapes; 3. Develop analytic frameworks and tools for critically examining different models and modes of practice, including their respective strategies, organization and operations; 4. Identify drivers of change that form the basis of future practices and enterprises for the built environment. Specifically look at technology/innovation drivers and growing interest in incubators.

Course format: Interactive lectures; workshop with guest faculty; team exercises and discussion.

Requirements: Consistent class attendance and engagement; satisfactory participation in and completion of team projects; term project and final presentation.

Prerequisites: Seminar is enrolled by lottery and limited to 25 students. MAR I and MLA I candidates must have completed their respective core professional practice course in order to enroll in PRO-07408.