Spring 2021 Electives

ARCH 4107/6107 | Leslie Sharp

Introduction to Historic Preservation

This course will help students develop an understanding of the history, philosophy, organization, current legislation, policies, and practices of historic preservation in the United States. The course is designed to give students an overview of the field and its relationship with other built environment professions, such as architecture, construction, planning, engineering, and landscape architecture and the critical role historic preservation plays in creating sustainable communities. Service projects give students real-life experience in historic preservation.

ARCH 4129/6129 | Jude LeBlanc

Form and Narrative: Painting, Film, Architecture

The focus of this study will be the human subject in relation to design, form, space and meaning as depicted in the still images of Johannes Vermeer paintings and the moving images of Alfred Hitchcock films.

Architects, in contrast to most other artists, have a non-direct relation to their medium. As an architect, one does not typically craft a building directly. One makes propositions, explores alternatives and communicates to various audiences by means of other media, i.e.. three-dimensional model making, drawing, painting, photography, or computer imaging. The architect remains a generalist and it is prudent that she or he understand other media.

Such a study promises a two-fold return. First, one encounters the possibility of cross-fertilization whereby issues discovered in one discipline may be appropriated within another. This opening up of possibilities is matched by a complementary and equally useful limitation of possibilities. The study of any one medium helps define its unique properties and appropriate limitations.

ARCH 4151/7151 | Richard Dagenhart

History of Urban Form

Very simply, urban form is the study of the physical forms of cities. These are the largest artifacts in human history, with all of their diversity through time and cultures and dimensions. Today these cities are settings for the everyday lives of half the world’s population and soon to be two-thirds. Although history is never destiny, the past millennia of cities inform, if at times only as ghosts, our present debates about desires and visions for the future – where almost all of us will reside.

Our study of urban form will be framed by the public domain – the public framework made up of streets, public places, monuments and a mesh of boundaries that define the public and private spaces we occupy as citizens or denizens. Recent events reveal the importance of this framework – Black Lives Matter on 5th Avenue at Trump Tower, Military Police at Lafayette Square, George Floyd projected on Robert E. Lee’s statue on Monument Avenue. Houses and apartments reveal domestic life, rich and poor, and skylines display the power of capital, but those worlds of private buildings and private
landscapes are always embedded in this larger civic framework.

ARCH 4227/6227 | Frederick Pearsall

Architecture & Ecology

In our time of climate change, this course brings together people and discourses from many disciplines in pursuit of more resilient social-ecological systems within our built environments through dialogue, interdisciplinary research, design, and action. The course is affiliated with Georgia Tech’s Serve-Learn Sustain initiative, and actively supports its commitment to helping Georgia Tech students develop the expertise needed “to help create sustainable communities where humans and nature flourish, now and in the future.” It does so first by providing introductions to design research methodologies, critical theories and practices of ecological science and thinking, and those of sustainability through readings and dialogue with distinguished researchers working in these areas. Secondly, each student develops, in dialogue with the seminar, a line of research investigating interrelationships between natural and cultural spheres and the design of the built environment—ones relevant to their individual interests and the world at large.

ARCH 4316/6313 | George Johnston

Traditions of Architectural Practice 

Architectural practice is constantly changing. Economicand technological forces are actively reshaping professional assumptions, and the modes of practice in coming decades may vary as much from today’s practices as those do from practices of the 19th century. Given this constant revolutionizing of architectural practice, how can architects – and students of architecture – prepare themselves for inevitable shifts in the culture of architectural production? This course focuses upon the material culture of American architectural practice – its tools, documents, methods, divisions of labor – as a means of unearthing the embedded ideological assumptions of the profession. It poses a critique of architectural practice as we understand it today and speculates about the alternative forms of emergent practices.

CP 6836/ARCH 4447/6447 | Perry Yang

Urban Ecological Design

The course introduces how urban design integrates urban ecology, systems science and emerging technologies for shaping urban environments. Cities can be regarded as an urban metabolism or complex systems, in which the metabolic processes, or flows and fluxes of energy, matter, water, organisms, transportation and human movement as well as social and economic activities, determine the physical forms and spatial configurations of cities (Baccini and Brunner, 2012).

ARCH 4803/6100/5352 | Ellen Dunham-Jones

Retrofitting Suburbia/Theory of Architecture 2

This online course examines how built retrofits of prototypical suburban property types and development patterns are helping their communities address urgent challenges to become more just, healthy, and prosperous places. Students will learn design strategies and policies to disrupt automobile dependence; improve public health; support an aging population; leverage social capital for equity; compete for jobs; and add water and energy resilience. The course combines presentations by the instructor, guest practitioners, and students as well as robust discussions.

ARCH 4803/6352/8803 | Mark Cottle

white: the other color

White operates as a double agent. Defined both as a conceptual absolute (the presence of all light, the absence of all pigment) as well as a relative category, a perceptual limit (the palest elements in the visual field); understood as a basic color term and also as "non-color", white performs both absence, a default setting, and presence, part of a polemical proposition.

In this seminar we will first cover some basic material about optics, perception, and cognition, including how cultures recognize, label, and give meaning to various colors, including white.

Next, we will explore how the concept of white has been deployed in Western architectural discourse: from the polychromy debate, to the early modern period (Adolf Loos, le Corbusier, Weissenhof-siedlung), the New York Five, as well as in current practice (Siza, SANAA, et al).

The third section will look at the ideology of white -- its contribution to narratives of mastery, purity, and hygiene -- together with its collaborating role in defending and policing "white space" (apartheid, red-lining, sundown towns, "micro-aggressions", and the list goes on ...).

ARCH 4803/6352/8803 | Lars Spuybroek

On Growth and Form

This Theory Elective is a combination of aesthetic theory, history, and digital design theory. Generally speaking, the problem with digital design is that it is understood as either fully instrumental or as easy access to complicated forms. In contrast, this series of lectures and discussions we will trace digital design (or generative design) back to its roots in Romanticism. During this period architects and scientists were trying to understand how forms are “grown.” At first only natural forms of plants and animals, but later all forms—natural and artificial—were seen as generated by temporal processes. We will see how this idea of growing form becomes part of the aesthetics of the picturesque and the Gothic Revival, advocated by the brilliant theories of John Ruskin and the beautiful designs of William Morris.

ARCH 4803/8803 | Ryan Roark

Representing Renovation / Reuse / Time

This workshop will focus on methods of representing intervention projects—projects in which old buildings are used to make new designs. This is fundamentally an exercise in representing time, which is a challenge relevant to any type of project.

We will survey existing intervention projects, focusing on the tools the architects chose to represent them, and discuss critical writings on reuse and the relationship between history and architecture. We will look at new high-tech tools including 3D scanning, augmented reality, and projection which are used as supplementary methods for representing layers of building history.

ARCH 4823/6160 | Danielle Willkens

Race, Space, and Architecture in the United States

This course will be interdisciplinary by nature, referencing the projects and methodologies of not only architects and architectural historians, but also archaeologists, artists, designers, environmentalists, ethnographers, historians, photographers, urbanists, sociologists, technicians, and writers. Although we will cover topics and themes across the U.S., our focus will decidedly be on the American South and we will leverage our location in Atlanta. Through historiography, we will counter the stance that black history in the built environment is studied only alongside stories of white supremacy.

We will explore overlooked BIPOC projects and designers. By enacting research, reflective interpretation, and productive creativity, this course will question how architectural history and design can forward, but also hinder, components of social justice and equity.

ARCH 4833/8833 | Tristan Al-Haddad

Concrete Workshop: Parametric Precast I

Concrete Workshop : Parametric Precast I is a two semester research based workshop focused on developing next generation precast concrete wall systems. Working in groups, the students in the course will develop state-of-the-art variable precast wall systems. The workshop will focus on issues of Aesthetics (pattern and composition), Performance (thermal and structural), Process (from forming to erection), Material (cement based steel reinforced structures), and Economics (efficiencies of material and construction). The course will engage the Digital Fabrication Lab (Covid permitting) where students will be expected to push the limits of computational design and digital fabrication within the context of precast concrete design and construction.

ARCH 4833/8833 | Daniel Baerlecken

Parametric Design: Virtual + Actual Production

This seminar foregrounds research into the application of experimental design techniques with material constraints using digital fabrication. The operation of designing and the operation of making are seen as intertwined and students within the seminar will create a methodology for embedding their design logic into crafting virtual and actual textile artefacts.

ARCH 4833/8833 | Lane Duncan

The Connell Workshop: The Art of Drawing

This workshop will explore a wide range of these issues in hand drawing - tone, line, contour, gesture, composition, and the historic humanistic forces that shaped them. These drawing and critical thinking investigations can be divided into two general categories - those of perception and those of conception. Perception being the way in which we see the world, and conception being the way in which we attempt to order the world.

The first step in the origination of any concept - the point at which elusive and constantly evolving ideas are committed to paper, becomes the guide upon which all following decisions are based. This moment of “capture”, then, is of critical importance. It demands an ability to analyze a myriad of often competing forces and distill their essence into one primary and overarching idea. How do we know what we are going to draw if we don’t know what we think? We will develop these “sketchbook” techniques through a series of drawing exercises and discussion of philosophical texts.

ARCH 4833/8833 | Michael Gamble

Climate Change and the Design of the Built Environment

Earth’s climate is changing now faster than any other period in the history of modern civilization; this acceleration is primarily a result of human activities. Global climate change has already resulted in a wide range of impacts across every region of the country, and as we have seen throughout 2020, new approaches are needed to combat pathogen transmission and create next level healthy places. Many sectors of the economy are expected to grow related to climate and health in the coming decades. This course positions design as an essential component of research that explores the sociocultural and eco-political dimensions of climate change.

ARCH 4833/8833 | Debora Mesa

Material Diversions: Off-the-Shelf

MATERIAL DIVERSIONS is a space for experimentation. A space for Action Design where we connect our head with our hands and our hands with the materials that build architecture. It is through this intimate encounter that we can understand, learn and unlearn, maybe then innovate.

As part of Material Diversions, OFF-THE-SHELF places the focus at the intersection between regimentation and freedom, critical dichotomy of our contemporary culture and life. Most of the materials we build with are standardized. Standardization enables a shared technical language, the simplification (order) of complex worlds, interchangeability of services and parts, affordability of products through economies of scale... but many times this means flattening repetition, prescribed application, the perpetuation of mediocre or obsolete practices, or the disappearance of improvisation and play as part of the design process. Standards -whether inherited, enforced or agreed- can be at times liberating and at times suffocating, but despite their normative condition, standards are there to be updated, challenged and reimagined. A flexible space for customization, experimentation and reinvention that can inform the next generation of standards is very much needed.

ARCH 8833 | Roya Rezaee, Marcelo Bernal, Tyrone Marshall

Building Simulation in Design Practice

This course builds up the theoretical and practical understanding of building simulation to support collaborative multi-performances building design practice. It includes computational techniques to help designers generate a large space of design variation, simulate a variety of building performances, evaluate and explore the options, and make informed design decisions in a systematic framework. The modeling and simulation cover the following domains: Solar, Energy, Thermal Comfort, Daylighting, View, and Cost. The course builds professional use of tools oriented towards a practice-based research agenda focused on performance, data-informed visuals, and an integrated data analysis platform. The course critically takes the relationship between research and design innovation seriously.

ARCH 4833/8833 | Stuart Romm

Athletic Center Workshop

Interactive workshop focused on developing concepts for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association's plans to reinvigorate their athletic headquarters complex at the northeast corner of Bobby Dodd Stadium. This new facility will impact every Georgia Tech student-athlete’s experience for athletic and academic success, through innovative strength and performance training, nutrition, sports medicine, and academic support.

ARCH 4833/8833 | Craig Zimring and Herminia Machry

Evidence-Based Design

Evidence-based design (EBD) uses credible research to make design decisions, and uses design to create research questions. A well established method with professional accreditation, EBD is used by major design firms, industry and NGOs EBD supports innovation and makes design more effective in achieving goals of users, clients and society. Applicable to a wide range of design problems, this lecture and discussion class uses healthcare settings as a focus to explore how to find, evaluate and synthesize evidence and use it for design.

ARCH 4901/8901 | George Johnston

Plan-Making Workshop

The aim of this workshop is to equip architectural design students with the analytical tools and compositional skills essential to the development of more fully articulated design proposals. Directed research will be conducted through case study analyses of the spatio-compositional logics of key architectural projects as genetically encoded in plan and in their plan-to-section relationships. Understanding will be constructed through close reading of exemplary plans accomplished through redrawing and rigorous diagrammatic decomposition; and by reference to their operative design ideologies and material relations.

ARCH 6512 | Athanassios Economou

Research Colloquium

This course introduces students to the processes of developing a topic of inquiry and delivering a research project within the field of design and computation.

The class consists of two modules: The first module looks at the history and logic of formal approaches in design and consists of weekly readings and presentations on various topics on design research. Topics of inquiry include information processing models of design, analog and digital notational systems, CAD representations, parametric modeling, generative systems, shape grammars, expert systems, building information modeling, and agent-based design, among others. The second module focuses on the application of processes of inquiry and research in the field, including both theoretical considerations of the practice of research as well as practical aspects of problem identification, definition, exploration, and documentation, and culminates in a series of student-led individual presentations on the research topics of their choice.

ARCH 7625 | Sonit Bafna

Theories of Inquiry

The aim of systematic inquiry in any discipline is to make a reliable and significant contribution to its stock of knowledge. The purpose of this course is to give students knowledge of the principles by which a project systematic inquiry make this kind of a contribution. The focus is strictly on principles, and practical knowledge will only be given passing consideration. Practical knowledge is certainly necessary to any conduct of inquiry, but it is quite specific to individual disciplines and best acquired through actual research work in the discipline. Instead, students will learn about the reasons and beliefs on which standard methods and approaches to inquiry are based. Throughout the focus will be on topics and concerns relevant to study of architecture and the built environment.

ARCH 8630 | John Peponis

Architecture, Space, and Culture: Museum Space and the Intelligibility of Exhibitions

This is a research oriented elective class, with two aims.
1. To introduce theories or architectural space and associated methods of spatial analysis that can be applied to: (a) model the human functions of buildings; (b) benchmark design alternatives; (c) evaluate competing designs to support design choices; (d) inform the design imagination.
2. Collectively pursue a particular research question, a different one each time the class is offered. This year the focus will be on the way in which the design of museum space constructs and communicates meaningfulness, over and above the curatorial narratives that are usually taken into account in exhibition design.

ARCH 8833 | Tzu-Chieh Kurt Hong

Design Scripting: Advanced Programming

Computer programming has been broadly adopted in several discourses to solve problems, automate workflows, process analysis, and so forth. For architects and designers, computer programming is even used for exploring design ideas, creating new designs and simulating the performance of designs. This course will introduce students to advanced programming through three biweekly assignments and a class project implemented in Python, Java and Grasshopper. The course consists of lectures and workshops given online in synchronous way with three in-person meetings during the semester. Students are expected to establish the fundamentals of and the skill sets of computer programming after the semester.

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