Science and Technology

City of Wood Timber, used for structure and finish, has dominated the American settlement project since its inception in the 17th c. Today, wood construction (mostly housing) accounts for a plurality of the national capital output including all types of buildings and fixed equipment. Its consideration from the perspectives of design and technique is inevitable for any theory of architecture which seeks to broaden the positive social influence of design. This course will look at the specific details of wood construction to understand the relationship between the techniques of production and the resulting effect at the scale of human occupation. We will explore the morphology of structure, the categorization of components, the sequencing of assembly, the durability and fit of joints, the ecology of materials and thermal performance, the ergonomics of proportion and the pleasure and signification of color, texture and composition. In the end we will make judgments about the tried and true and venture proposals for progress both incremental and radical. The subject matter will consist of three large conceptual components representing different categories of knowledge, skill and art. First, the student will be required to master fundamental data about the materials, techniques and production processes which constitute contemporary wood construction and to some extent its contributory historical antecedents. Second, the course will provide an introduction to the habits and rigors of mind, hand and computing which are employed in orchestrating construction as well as making precise technical discernments about the assembly and functionality of full-scale details. Finally, these technical processes and conceptual tools will be contextualized within architectures larger artistic, social and cultural project and within the students overall development as a designer. The method of the course will be divided into two phases: Instructor lectures and conversations will present the outlines of the course material in words and images. The conversations will be built around video projected improvisational sketches which will convey technical information but also demonstrate a model process for detail problem solving and representation. The second phase of activity will be student work in three distinct formats: a course project (in five parts), detail notes drawn from the lecture/conversations and collaborative case studies of executed contemporary projects.