Fall 2022 Technical Methods and Intellectual Domain Seminars

Technical Methods seminars explore strategies for conducting research in different focus areas of architecture, from visualization techniques, skill-building in the use of tools, and developing specific methods for technically-driven inquiry.

Intellectual Domain seminars explore the theoretical and historical knowledge-bases of various focus areas of architecture, with an emphasis on pursuing intellectual inquiry.

It is highly encouraged that students register for the technical methods seminar and intellectual domain seminar that is in the same graduate research group as their research studio. For those students taking an option studio, students should consider the studio topic when registering for the seminars.

Additional technical methods and intellectual domain seminars may be used as electives in the program. 

Technical Methods Seminars

ARC 543 Technical Methods- Material Culture- Chris Romano

Instructor Email: ctromano@buffalo.edu

Course Title: Logging

This course will examine material origins and the ethics of material consumption as it pertains to wood construction.  Wood has been one of the most popular building materials, alongside clay and stone, for thousands of years.  As a natural material, it is the perfect expression of our intimate connection with the world in which we live.  In fact, no other plant species is as dear to humanity as the tree.  To that end, students will manually enact the process of how a tree, a perennial plant with an elongated stem, becomes a log, a part of the trunk of a tree that has fallen, and finally becomes timber, wood prepared for use in building or carpentry.  Throughout this material transformation, we will examine and interrogate the three-fold definition of logger:

  • a person who fells trees for timber; a lumberjack.
  • a device for making a systematic recording of events, observations, or measurements
  • an agent of disturbance and change in an ecosystem

Utilizing this multi-faceted definition of logger, we will directly engage with the material culture of the forest industry, which most, if not all of the technological innovations surrounding this industry have been attempts to standardize and homogeneous the material.  That is, to kill the plant so it will behave and perform in a predictable and consistent manner – to strip it of its ‘wood-ness’.  As a counterpoint to this historical trend, the course will aim to embrace the living, unpredictable, and irregular features inherent to all trees and design experiments will attempt to capitalize on these bizarre and eccentric qualities.  Through deep experiential and hands-on learning, this course will attempt to rekindle the omnipresent relationship between people and wood.

Course contact hours will occur both on-campus (50%) and-off campus (50%) throughout the semester.  Weekly discussions, tours, material harvesting, and student presentations will involve spending time outdoors in parks, preserves, conservation zones, and state forests while interacting with ecologists, conservationists, loggers, foresters, and industry professionals.  Hands-on exercises in our Fabrication Workshop(s) exploring log milling will supplement weekly readings, short-story writings, and graphic production.

ARC 545 Technical Methods- Ecological Practices- Jin Young Song

Instructor Email: jsong11@buffalo.edu

Course Title: Reimaging The City- Photovoltaics Integration in Façade Retrofit

In response to the climate crisis and the imminent mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is critical to transforming current energy systems into a CO2-neutral energy system within a couple of decades. For this mission, the development of photovoltaics as a renewable energy source will continue to be an effective way to make energy-efficient buildings. Despite the PV product market is growing, the cost is going down, and the government support is expanding, the culture of the clean energy technology is remaining in the product development, while systematic design and construction methods of integrating PV with buildings are less explored, especially for façade retrofitting applications. Therefore, the seminar will examine and study the most updated BIPV practices and technologies. Based on this we will explore facade retrofit design options using building-integrated photovoltaics on two different scales: 1. Novel open-and-close system in a 'module' scale to actuate shading integrated PV façade, inspired by elastic behaviors in nature, 2. The aggregation of BIPV panels in the 'facade' scale to improve yield efficiency while improving socio-cultural perception of the design. These ‘module’ and ‘façade’ scale investigations will not only contribute to the broader application of sustainable technology to the practice of energy-efficient buildings but also utilize the key advantage of using the existing urban environment to harvest clean energy.

Song is currently conducting the funded research supported by a solar panel manufacturer. The research seminar will utilize professional consultation from the manufacturer.

ARC 547 Technical Methods- Urban Design- Hiro Hata

Instructor email: hata@buffalo.edu

This course: an Introduction to Urban Design, aka, Understanding Good Urban Form, is an interdisciplinary course open to both MARC and MUP students, thus, the founding principle of the course is to create and nurture a culture based on a collaborative interdisciplinary learning environment destroying - or at least lessening - the departmental silos separating us. Students in UD/GRG is highly encouraged to take the course, while it is required for those in MUP/UD Specialization. Students are expected to have basic digital skillsets and hands-on sketching and visual ability.

Weaving between a complex web of the architecture, social, environmental and land use planning, sustainability, infrastructure, ecology, and landscape architecture, this course seeks to learn the art and science of “place-making” with a sense of order, connectivity, and legibility to the often chaotic urban fabric; understanding a set of principles of making good urbanism; with an emphasis on making the public realm robust, legible, equitable, and rich in human scale and experience. Students will learn the fundamentals of urban design from weekly illustrated lectures, readings, field trips, critics and stakeholders. The course will use a research methodology based on “projects”: no final exam is expected. A project site for the course will be announced in August.

The course is comprised of three sequential topics:

Part 1: An overview of current roles and best practices of urban design, followed by mapping/graphic assignments to understand Visual and Spatial Structure Analysis of a given site. Part 1 will result in the first project.

Part 2: Fundamentals of regulatory framework to understand the power of zoning regulations and - using a normative approach to shaping the city - its application to the making of the great public realm for the project site, thus capping Part 2.

Part 3: An overview of Comprehensive Planning in US. Conceptual urban design guidelines for the given site. All the above will be capped by Final Presentations and Report Submission.

ARC 547 Technical Methods- Urban Design- Nick Rajkovich

Instructor Email: rajkovic@buffalo.edu

Course Title: Agents of Change

Building on a foundation established by precedent analysis, a solution-oriented mindset underpins much of the architectural design process. While examining a built work can help illustrate the “what, where, and when” of a project, this formalist approach tends to gloss over several questions central to urban design. These include the full range of actors “who” were involved behind the scenes, “why” a project occurred, and the processes of “how” it came to be. In this methods seminar, students will expand the scope of precedent analysis by developing a case study of an urban design project from Buffalo, New York. Working in teams, students will use the appreciative inquiry method to interview actors associated with the project, model theories of change, and summarize their findings in a compelling narrative. In the final weeks of the semester, students will be asked to apply lessons learned from the case study process to an urban design project of their own choosing.

ARC 617 Technical Methods- Situated Technology- Albert Chao

Instructor email: achao@buffalo.edu

This course invites students to examine present day Artpark in Lewiston, New York, as a case study to explore how hard and soft infrastructures shape the built environment. Students will conduct research on site specific histories that are in or adjacent to Artpark by pinpointing moments from the past that impact the present and the future. The ambition of the class is to make more visible the often hidden infrastructures and the forgotten histories that shape both the physical and the social. We will then draw, model, and build interactive prototypes that overlay this research onto the physical embodied experience of the site.

Students should be expected to conduct multiple excursions and site visits. The class will also consist of archival research, readings, and discussions.

ARC 620 Technical Methods- Inclusive Design- Maya Porath (Banham Fellow)

Instructor email: mayapora@buffalo.edu

Architecture is a collaborative practice, involving professional teams, stakeholders, and participants, ultimately shaping the way people and communities experience the built environment. This course will provide an overview of models and approaches to community engagement, both within and outside of the design process.

Through discussions, guest lectures, case studies, readings and a collaborative group project, the class will examine various principles, strategies, and challenges to community engagement, and consider the ways participation contributes to creating a more equitable and democratic built environment.

Intellectual Domain Seminars

ARC 623- Intellectual Domain- Inclusive Design- Jacobe Huet

Instructor email: jhuet@buffalo.edu

Course title: Colonialism and Its Subversion: Architectural Modernism in North Africa

This seminar invites students to examine the intersections of colonial ideology with architecture in North African countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. Sessions will focus on modernist architects working in the region (Le Corbusier, Hassan Fathy, Shadrach Woods, etc.) and concepts defining colonialism as a design project (segregation, repression, primitivism, etc.). Throughout the semester, we will also pay particular attention to modes of opposition and resistance pursued by localized architects and residents, as well as their historical impact towards the region’s decolonization. Moments of heightened historical consequence, such as the extensive use of vernacular spaces by independentist guerrillas, will be thoroughly discussed. Students will gain familiarity with key episodes of 20th century architectural history and refine their critical understandings of modernity and its margins in the built environment. Prior attendance to an architectural history course is recommended but not mandatory.

ARC 623 Intellectual Domain- Inclusive Design- Jordana Maisel

Instructor email: jlmaisel@buffalo.edu

Course Title: Designing Inclusive Environments 

This course provides an overview of inclusive design. Inclusive design empowers the people who use products, buildings and communities by taking their perspective and making it the central focus of the design process.  Rooted in a critique of designer-centric practice and embracing an ethic of social responsibility, this new paradigm focuses on developing form from function to increase the usefulness and responsiveness of our physical world for a wider and more diverse range of people.

The course introduces fundamental principles and knowledge bases related to inclusive design, the concept of evidence based practice, methods of criticism and evaluation, and best practice examples. Methods include required readings and lectures, quizzes, discussions, and a research and design project. The class format will be a combination of lectures and student-directed seminars.

ARC 625 Intellectual Domain- Situated Technology- Mark Shepard

Instructor email: shepard6@buffalo.edu

Course Title: Fabricating the Real 

This seminar introduces theoretical and historical topics relevant for research in the design of Situated Technologies. Our current research investigates the application of Extended Reality (XR), an umbrella term incorporating virtual, augmented, and mixed-reality technologies, to architecture and construction. This course will survey the cultural history of VR, AR and MR and examine their incorporation within contemporary XR platforms and systems, focusing on their ontological and epistemological implications with regard to conceptions of “the real.”

ARC 627 Intellectual Domain- Ecological Practices-Hadas Steiner

Instructor email: hsteiner@buffalo.edu

Course Title: Synanthropes

This seminar examines the vicissitudes of the manipulation of terrain, whether in the form the garden, field or construction site, and the ubiquitous byproduct of this shaping: the weed. As living things, weeds belong to the class of synanthropes: organisms characterized by their close association with human activity. Synanthropes contrast with the cultivated, even urban, landscape, and interfere with the best laid human plans. Whether native to a terrain (apophyte) or foreign to it (anthropophyte), synanthropes are by definition extraneous to their location, always in the wrong place. And yet they are everywhere. Effective peregrinators in their own right and aided in their spread by colonial enterprise, weeds have insinuated themselves across the globe. By their very ubiquity, they break down any tidy compartmentalization between what might be classified as wild or cultivated.

What defines any particular plant as a weed, however, has nothing to do with any botanical or other descriptive criteria. The classification of a plant as a weed is entirely to do with perspective. Thus, as we shall see, weeds are a truly revelatory historical category, the theoretical implications of which have ecological, social, political and even aesthetic implications.

ARC 629 Intellectual Domain- Urban Design- Kristine Stiphany

Instructor email: kmstipha@buffalo.edu

Course Title: Design for Resilient Environments

This course prepares students to investigate how the concept of resilient infrastructure demands consideration of two concepts rarely considered in architecture education. First, infrastructure is not just a set of basic tool types (such as pipes, bridges, or data banks) but a cultural concept that varies across time and place. Its study requires, not only historical analysis, but also analysis of its social as well as ecological impacts. And second, if infrastructure is also to be resilient, it means that designers must be prepared to help communities, not to bounce back into failing conditions after their disruption, but to bounce forward into new, sustainable ones. These differences will be learned through semester long case studies in which students will critically examine the evolution of incremental or progressive housing types (or housing that is built over time) as an example of a resilient infrastructure developed in the Global South with relevance for the housing crisis in the Global North.  

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  1. Critically theorize the concept and practice of urban resilience
  2. Undertake a case study of an incremental housing type in the Global Southern contexts of Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia;
  3. Evaluate how the case study provides insights for the design of housing in the Global North via competing paradigms of resilience;
  4. Represent change in housing environments.

ARC 632 Intellectual Domain- Materials Culture- Dennis Maher

Instructor Email: dmmaher@buffalo.edu

Course Title: World-Building in Architecture, Design and Art

This course explores the theme of ‘world-building’ in architecture, design and art. We examine how these disciplines are used to create—and to model—versions of the world. We consider a wide range of written material--including texts by scholars of architecture, cities and imagination, advertisements and propaganda, and writings by artists-- as well as buildings, proposals for buildings, and artworks, looking for ways that constellations of objects, images and places propose totalizing aspirations for the collective imagination.  Of key significance is the convergence of building and model into a dynamic system of related ideas, symbols, and scales to create an idealized vision for place and society.   

Class Schedule

For more specific information on courses including scheduled times, days, modality and restrictions, please see the class schedule.