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Connecting Architecture With Structures

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Professional Practice and AEC Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.325.1 - 13.325.9



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Paper Authors


Kevin Dong California Polytechnic State University

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Kevin Dong, S.E. is an Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering (ARCE) at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. For the past six years he has been teaching classes that emphasize structural systems and structural design to various majors (Architecture, Architectural Engineering, and Construction Management) within the College of Environmental Design and Architecture. His class work utilizes his 13 years of experience with Ove Arup & Partners (ARUP), where he worked in both the San Francisco and London offices. A trademark of all the projects was the concept of integrated design where the building solution incorporates the design efficiencies and aesthetics from each building discipline. This approach to design is stressed in all of his courses for engineers, architects, and construction managers alike.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Connecting Architecture and Structures


Five years ago two instructors were working professionals. One was a design architect for Norman Foster & Partners and the other a building engineer for Ove Arup and Partners. Today, both are instructors, but they teach at institutions separated by two time zones. One teaches architecture, the other teaches structures. As educators, the primary goal is to prepare students for life after college. To that end, a class was developed to emulate real world practice, where students are exposed to the trials and tribulations of communication, negotiation, and the total design process. By exposing students to a class that emulates practice and to issues which design professionals face on a daily basis will better prepare them for practice and life after college. This “experimental” course has been offered thrice and student feedback indicates exposures to the first two soft skills were the most demanding – just like practice.1


As noted previously, a primary goal for college professors is to prepare students for the future. We do this by, • Teaching critical thinking skills to develop problem solvers for the future • Creating speaking and writing opportunities to enhance communication skills • Developing group projects so individuals learn about group dynamics and the nuances of negotiation • Prepare situations that require scheduling, coordination amongst multiple parties, and defining a scope of work to develop project management skills • Exposing students to problems that reflect real life situations so students can apply previous coursework to “real” problems Last year the two instructors developed a collaborative design studio that incorporated a steel design competition sponsored by a professional organization. The design process was complicated by the fact that the two design teams, architecture and structures, were not located at the same location – just like practice. A steel competition was selected because it presented a building with a modest but well defined program, an opportunity for creative architectural and structural design, and presented a building type that all the students could relate to. The course required design meetings at each college campus, project documentation of all design team correspondence, project calculations and drawings, and project reviews by practicing engineers and architects.

The course was completed over a six month period and the schedule was developed using the instructor’s years of experience in practice. One of the keys to success in practice is the formation of partnerships.2 To that end, two design team meetings were scheduled, one at each campus. These multiple day gatherings allowed the students to discuss design issues face to face, as well as providing a vehicle for the students to form friendships outside of class. At both meetings, the host school provided transportation to and from lodging and tours which showcased points of interest after “office hours”. These meetings were instrumental in stressing

Dong, K. (2008, June), Connecting Architecture With Structures Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3906

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