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Discipline of Architecture

Andrzej Piotrowski
Julia Williams Robinson
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Discipline of Architecture
    Book Description:

    The essays collected in this groundbreaking volume address the current state of architecture as an academic and professional discipline. Often critical of the current paradigm, these essays offer a provocative challenge to accepted assumptions about the production, dissemination, and reception of architectural knowledge. Contributors: Sherry Ahrentzen, Stanford Anderson, Carol Burns, W. Russell Ellis, Thomas Fisher, Linda N. Groat, Kay Bea Jones, David Leatherbarrow, A. G. Krishna Menon, Garth Rockcastle, Michael Stanton, Sharon Egretta Sutton, David J. T. Vanderburgh, and Donald Watson._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9202-6
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Julia Williams Robinson and Andrzej Piotrowski

    The disciplinary character of architecture is one of the most important, though under explored, issues that architects face today. Disciplinarity—the way that architecture defines, creates, disseminates, and applies the knowledge within its domain of influence—is increasingly central to the discussions about the present and future direction of the field. However, we rarely focus on how our seeing, thinking, and understanding of architecture or on how the social construction of our field can obstruct or advance our ability to create a built world viable and valuable for the next century.

    Following a line of thought developed by Ellen Messer-Davidow,...

  5. 1 Revisiting the Discipline of Architecture
    (pp. 1-9)
    Thomas Fisher

    The professions in North America are under attack. Surveys reveal widespread public distrust of professions such as law and politics, and the bottom-line management of professions such as medicine and architecture has become equally pervasive, with the rise of entities such as health maintenance organizations and disciplines such as construction management. What has caused this public-and private-sector reaction to professionalism, and how has this affected the disciplines in these fields?

    All of the professions have begun to search for answers, and at least in architecture, this has produced a flood of articles, conferences, and books calling for sweeping reform of...

  6. 2 Disciplining Knowledge: Architecture between Cube and Frame
    (pp. 10-39)
    Michael Stanton

    Design teaching in architecture school often begins with the cube as its first topic. The same on all sides, the cube appears neutral, without hierarchies. Its only direction that of gravity, it seems to be free from symbolic content or technical constraints. It is white, pure, available yet autonomous, waiting to be filled or excavated. Like all designed forms, this one is a materialization of ideology, for the cube personifies the subject of teaching, the new student, as much as it is the first object of architectural work. Its apparently mute regularity points the direction that architectural knowledge is meant...

  7. 3 On the Practices of Representing and Knowing Architecture
    (pp. 40-60)
    Andrzej Piotrowski

    Designing architecture is a unique epistemological practice, a unique way of knowing resulting from a complex process of conceptual negotiations. Architects not only solve technical problems and create aesthetic objects but facilitate a process in which visions of a building acquire a particular symbolic or cultural sense. While working on a project, a designer must develop multiple architectural proposals, understand the complexity of issues they manifest, and negotiate them with the parties involved in the project—clients, local authorities, planners, consultants, contractors, bankers, and many others. A designer produces these versions in order to understand what kind of a design...

  8. 4 The Form and Structure of Architectural Knowledge: From Practice to Discipline
    (pp. 61-82)
    Julia Williams Robinson

    In the United States, the field of architecture is in the process of evolving from what has been a practice, informed by other disciplines, into a discipline with its own body of knowledge.¹ Since the nineteenth century, its locus of education has changed from the architecture firm to the higher education institution. Its instructional practices have shifted from a predominantly apprenticeship system to a system of classroom-based teaching supplemented by apprenticeship. The role of architectural instructors is changing from master architect, whose knowledge and theory of making buildings is personally held, implicit, practical, and integrated, and who instructs by demonstration,...

  9. 5 Architecture Is Its Own Discipline
    (pp. 83-102)
    David Leatherbarrow

    For architecture to remain significant in our time, it must redefine its basic subjects. That it is a discipline with its own subject matter can neither be assumed nor taken for granted because nowadays architecture is often seen as a practice that borrows methods and concepts from other fields, whether the natural or the social sciences, engineering, or the fine arts. This appropriation is neither by accident nor by fraudulent intent; for some time now, other professionals, engineers, landscape architects, and planners, have performed some of the skills that had traditionally defined the architect’s role, and have done so reliably....

  10. 6 A Dialectics of Determination: Social Truth-Claims in Architectural Writing, 1970–1995
    (pp. 103-126)
    David J. T. Vanderburgh and W. Russell Ellis

    A well-known British architect (Duffy 1996 ) confesses to having been “ruthless” while researching his doctorate, one of the first awarded in a wave of new graduate programs created in the 1970s. Then, as now, research in architecture required frequent cross-disciplinary visits. Such visitors must be ruthless in taking advantage of the host discipline, and ruthless again with themselves to avoid what anthropologists call “going native.” In this, they fit the classic image of the architect as using knowledge from many other disciplines without becoming an expert in any of them (Vitruvius 1960 , 5—11 ).

    Our epigraph, taken...

  11. 7 Unpacking the Suitcase: Travel as Process and Paradigm in Constructing Architectural Knowledge
    (pp. 127-157)
    Kay Bea Jones

    I want here to consider the promises and problems of learning through direct site exposure, and to unpack our presumptions as architects, while proposing a revised role for travel in the construction of architectural knowledge. My concern is with “travel pedagogy,” by which I mean experientially centered studies dependent on some cultural and geographic shift that radically alters sense perception and challenges visual and spatial cognition. Although learning from experience has pedagogical value among some studio educators, neither the bases for its theoretical grounding nor analyses of trial and error methods have been systematically pursued. Consequently architecture students bene fit...

  12. 8 Environment and Architecture
    (pp. 158-172)
    Donald Watson

    When the term “environment” is used in architecture, it refers generally to the surrounding landscape and context of buildings. In both legal and professional architectural practice, “environment” may refer narrowly to health concerns, such as indoor air quality, or broadly to the ecological impacts that building may have on regional air and water quality and ultimately on global climate. Some of these impacts can be measured in terms of human health, energy consumption, and pollution, as well as other environmental indices, including biodiversity of local species and global warming. For the profession of architecture to respond to these issues of...

  13. 9 Reinventing Professional Privilege as Inclusivity: A Proposal for an Enriched Mission of Architecture
    (pp. 173-207)
    Sharon Egretta Sutton

    Privilege is having certain rights and benefits such as the capacity to be perceived as valuable, to judge and interpret experience, and to exercise influence over your own fate as well as that of others. It is the psychiatrist who deems a patient insane, the architect who claims the public lacks taste, the sociologist who articulates the pathologies of poverty, the college president who touts knowledge as the wave of the future—each person benefiting from a particular construction of reality. Within the professions, privilege is dispensed via prescribed systems of credentialing in which each person’s worth is ranked and...

  14. 10 Thinking “Indian” Architecture
    (pp. 208-234)
    A. G. Krishna Menon

    Thinking the “Indian” in Indian architecture is the subject of this chapter. The architecture of India is probably on the periphery of concerns informing other contributions to this book, yet I suggest that there are many disciplinary affinities and areas of overlapping interest between them that could profitably be mined and examined, especially in an era of globalizing professional practice.

    I would like to make two prefatory comments to place my views in context. The first concerns the postcolonial perspective that informs my discussion, and the second, the need to take into account the experience of globalization at the postcolonial...

  15. 11 Interdisciplinary Visions of Architectural Education: The Perspectives of Faculty Women
    (pp. 235-259)
    Linda N. Groat and Sherry Ahrentzen

    Architects frequently take great pride in pointing to architecture as the most interdisciplinary of professional pursuits. Indeed, for many, one of the great attractions of the field is its inherently interdisciplinary quality, the necessity of integrating widely divergent concerns—aesthetic choices, social implications, the highly technical issues of structural and mechanical calculations, as well as matters treated in other professional fields such as interior design and landscape architecture. In this respect, architecture might be characterized as “inherently interdisciplinary,” in the way that others have characterized academic fields such as geography, or professional fields such as public health (J. Klein 1990)....

  16. 12 A Framework for Aligning Professional Education and Practice in Architecture
    (pp. 260-271)
    Carol Burns

    During the past thirty years, the relationship between architectural education and architectural practice has provoked recurrent anxiety. The discussion has become especially animated since the mid-1990s. Schools, professional organizations, and publications have all devoted great attention to analyzing and commenting on the disjunction between education and practice.

    Two factors animate this concern. First is the dynamic state of the profession. Architectural practices, after emerging from a devastating recession in the early 1990s, have been undergoing significant changes. Practitioners today must be highly inventive merely to survive, and many are experimenting with new types of practice, new partnerships, and new methods...

  17. 13 Reduction and Transformation of Architecture in Las Vegas
    (pp. 272-291)
    Garth Rockcastle

    This chapter focuses on how the efforts to bring a public library and art museum project into being exposed several cultural realities and disciplinary limitations I still find discouraging. For nearly twenty years prior to this project, I took for granted what I thought were several of architecture’s central functions. First, its core cultural function was to structure, edify, and reveal the enlightened aspirations of humanity. Second, its central political function was to advance and realize broader public interests over private interests. And third, its primary aesthetic function was to develop the artistic, poetic, and experiential potential of its spatial...

  18. 14 The Profession and Discipline of Architecture: Practice and Education
    (pp. 292-306)
    Stanford Anderson

    Academic disciplines may be charged with irrelevance, as occupying “ivory towers.” Then again, these disciplines may project themselves into worldly affairs, courting criticism either for their inconsequence or for the corruption of their ideals. In the academy today, one encounters a mistrust of disciplinarity as laying false claims to authority. There is also often a curious absence of the notion of “profession”—perhaps because both critics and supporters emphasize academic disciplines rather than those disciplines, such as medicine and law, that are recognized to prepare professionals. Disciplines merit critical examination, but I conceive the discipline of architecture as providing an...

  19. Works Cited
    (pp. 307-330)
  20. Contributors
    (pp. 331-336)
  21. Index
    (pp. 337-365)