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Bringing Engineering into the Studio: Design Assignments for Teaching Structures to Architects

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Collaborative Projects in Architectural Engineering Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.270.1 - 25.270.12



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Paper Authors

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Sinead C. Mac Namara Syracuse University

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Bringing Engineering into the Studio: Design Assignments for Teaching Structures to ArchitectsThis paper describes an example of design education in architectural structures at ______University.When architecture students choose a structural material for a design it is vital thatembedded in that decision is an understanding of scale of both the structural membersand of the spaces that material supports. Understanding the forms required and theexperiential quality of space (both in terms of scale and the interaction with non structuralinterior elements) that follows from structural material choice, allows for more controland precision in the design process. A capacity to size members (even approximately),similarly allows for a richer and more finely detailed representation of design work. Inthe studio design courses students are rarely held responsible for the finer detail inaccuracy and validity of their structural systems, but are critiqued when the structuralsolution proposed is obviously problematic. In comprehensive design courses moreattention is paid to structural systems and at ______ University many students request astructural consultation on their comprehensive studio design work. The assignmentsdescribed in this paper represent an attempt to more directly tie the required structuressequence to the design studio, and to better prepare students to take comprehensivestudio.Over the course of the semester the students undertake three group project assignments intimber, concrete and steel respectively. For each project they are presented with a volumeor series of volumes with a prescribed program (usually one the required a mix of largeand small structural spans). They may alter the preliminary design that is given to them,they must propose a framing plan, calculate the member size for a small butrepresentative number of the structural elements, and produce representations to scale ofthe interior space that results. A class wide crit of each of these projects provides anexcellent opportunity to teach some of the less mathematical aspects of structuralengineering. This paper presents the results of the assignment and the student evaluationdata for the course as whole and this assignment as part of an overall effort to understandthe value of structural engineering in the architectural design process.

Mac Namara, S. C. (2012, June), Bringing Engineering into the Studio: Design Assignments for Teaching Structures to Architects Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21028

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