Products of Practice: From code to plan to code

A seminar that critically mines historic systems of representation and the product (or media) of the architect in relationship to the evolving societal role of the discipline, practice, and profession with the goal of projecting practice futures. 
Within the cacophony of contemporary media, under the pressures of financial instruments, and with an expectation of artificial intelligence, this seminar looks to the past to explore the product of the architect as an artifact of circumstance, framing and projecting practice potentials now and into the future. Critically tracking the development of our practice, we will research design context and representational formats as cultural and temporal constructs that limit or expand the role of the architect in practice. Our collective goal is an exploration of the relationship between – and the limits of – discipline, practice, and profession to better understand their structural potentials.

The course will be organized thematically, exploring the origins of contemporary practice and its products at any given moment – from built form to model to drawing to code – as the architect evolved from master builder to author to project manager. The work of Vitruvius, Baldassarre Peruzzi, Leon Battista Alberti, Peter Cook, Cedric Price, Christopher Alexander, Peter Eisenman, and New Urbanism, among others, will be assessed within their cultural context. Legal and technical issues, client types, and structures of fee and control, will be considered. Students will work in small research cohorts to develop critical positions on the renewed debate between empirical vs. cultural practice, on mediatic production and instruments of service for single projects vs. systems of design deployment and process design. 

The class format will include presentation by the instructor and guests followed by discussion and debate, led by a pre-assigned group of students with topically relevant research for each class. Working in pairs to analyze oppositional perspectives in history and theory, students will be expected to produce a short mid-term paper or presentation and a corollary oral argument around a topical historic position on the role of production in relationship to discipline and practice. Students will summarize topical research within a shared course research framework. Final course output will draw from this collective knowledge to speculate on the future product of the architect in text, drawing, or code-based formats. Guest lecturers from practice and related sectors will occasionally be invited to add perspective to specific topics, particularly around the issue of emerging modes of production and media. 

There are no prerequisites for this course, which is intended as an interdisciplinary discussion. While this course is focused on the evolution of the product of the architect, the emergence of the related disciplines of landscape architecture, urban planning and urban design are topical to the conversation.