Asee peer logo

Hidden in Plain Sight: Campus Scavenger Hunt to Teach Structures and Technology to Architects.

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Collaborative Projects in Architectural Engineering Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.659.1 - 23.659.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Sinead MacNamara Syracuse University


Robert A. Svetz Syracuse University

visit author page

Robert Svetz is an assistant professor at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. He lectures on building envelope and interior environment and service systems technology, coordinates the third year B.Arch. fall design studios, and occasionally leads a fall seminar on serial repetition and drive. His research writing examines parallax relationships between technical building codes and design practices and more traditional architectural history and theory discourses. He has worked professionally in various New York City offices and was previously a special lecturer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Svetz holds an M.Arch. from Yale University, where he received the David C. Taylor Memorial prize on architectural writing and criticism.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Hidden in Plain Sight: Campus Scavenger Hunt to teach Structures and Technology to Architects.Look down the street, what do you see? Buildings with windows and doors, a roadsurface probably, cars, busses, pedestrians maybe, perhaps some trees. Now look again,what did you not see the first time? Telephone wires? Electricity cables? Air-handlingmachinery on the roof? Grills and grates? These are often the aspects of building designthat the public, or even the average architecture student, only notices when it is aproblem. In these authors’ experience these are also the aspects of building design thatnever appear on the beautiful renderings at the end of the semester studio pin up.Meanwhile, big aggressive structural moves are a very common sight. However, suchmoves are rarely accompanied by any real acknowledgment of the constraints of gravityand material strength, or how much structure would really be required for the 200 ftcantilever or the tower with massive atria. So we set out to design an assignment that wasan exercise in noticing.This paper describes ongoing efforts at ______ University to integrate structures andtechnology teaching into design teaching for architects. This specific assignment wasgiven in two courses, Structures II and Building Technology III, to the same group ofstudents (third year of a five year program). Students were assigned a building oncampus and required to investigate. They were charged with finding, photographing, andanalyzing the visible evidence of both structural and building tech design of thosebuildings. Their efforts were collated into an exhibition displayed in the school for someweeks. Both the assignment and exhibition were intended to generate thought anddiscussion of how mastery of technical knowledge is vital for good design. Manystudents (and indeed the occasional studio critic) view the “support courses” of structuresand building technology as ancillary at best and as an obstacle at worst. However, thosestudents who fail to engage with this material are far less prepared for the real world ofdesign and as practicing architects will cede control of their designs to engineers,contractors, and outside consultants.This study describes the assignment and its place within the curriculum at _______University. Examples of student work are presented alongside the evaluation of theproject, including student response data.   1  

MacNamara, S., & Svetz, R. A. (2013, June), Hidden in Plain Sight: Campus Scavenger Hunt to Teach Structures and Technology to Architects. Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19673

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015