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Friday, June 15, 2012

Harnessing the Architectural Curriculum: Part 3

I mentioned a high-rise decision in Part 2. It was meant as an analogy to an educational decision that leads to more detailed curriculum structure and course selection, but what led to the high-rise decision? Was it part of a larger city design plan for urban form woven together with open space for public benefit? Was it simply opinion based on unique experience and proprietary evaluation? 

Opinion always fills a vacuum, and it depends on the credibility of underlying knowledge. Scientific credibility is in the forefront followed by medical credibility. Political credibility is last. Its facts are unreliable and knowledge is often abused. Architectural credibility is somewhere in the field. Its decisions have been labeled “fine art”; it involves prototype design without fixed cost reliability; and is expressed with contract documents scrutinized for potential change orders at inflated prices after contract agreement. This is not a healthy formula for the prototypes needed to provide symbiotic shelter within sustainable geographic limits. I’ll label this goal 3SGL for convenience. It’s based on a political policy to protect our quality and source of life. This is a universal policy that has many detractors for many reasons, but is the only path to the protection of life as we know it – in my opinion.
In the case of architecture, I’ve argued that the “high-rise” decision should be made within growth limits for the built domain, and on the development capacity evaluation of shelter options within the built environment, which does not include agriculture in the built domain. I’ve called this the city design of urban form. It is the foundation for physical, social, psychological and economic stability, in my opinion; and is focused on the 3SGL goal. This goal is meant to protect both our source and quality of life when pursuing the protection of public health, safety and welfare. Ecology, wrapped up in the term “environment”, has been a monumental “welfare” oversight promoted by our present concept of property ownership, freedom and construction -- again, in my opinion.
My apparent digression from education is meant to argue that city design is an unrecognized public necessity. It is currently limited by the concepts of two-dimensional land use and project architecture. If we are to protect our source of life, land use must be recognized as a three-dimensional problem within ecological limits; and that development capacity evaluation is a rational way to allocate land use activity, building mass, pavement, and open space within these limits. I’ve called the resulting urban form an expression of intensity design decisions and labeled these decisions “city design”. The final form and appearance of these decisions will reflect the success achieved.
It’s up to traditional architecture to transform each massing objective into the form and function of symbiotic shelter, but this is only part of the problem. Architecture can be qualified to make city design decisions with the right research and educational background. This can lead us toward the 3SGL goal. It’s what I have in mind when discussing the public benefit of a doctorate in architecture -- and the curriculum structure and content needed to take us there with reward to the intrepid few who dare to travel.

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