Spring 2022 Intellectual Domain Seminars

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

ARC 624 Intellectual Domain- Inclusive Design- Steinfeld

This course will explore inclusive design in practice through a case studiy method. The goal of the course is to develop skills of knowledge translation from research to practice that can be applied in evidence based design practice. The instructor will present a framework for knowledge translation from research to design. This framework will be illustrated through a series of case studies selected from design practice, research, and advocacy activities, including projects at the IDEA Center. Guest lectures will be included from IDEA Center staff, other UB faculty and outside experts. Students will complete a series of knowledge translation activities and document them in text, graphics and media.The work produced in the course will be assembled into a future exhibit. 

ARC 624 Intellectual Domain- Inclusive Design- Tonia Sing Chi

Grounds for Reparations

This seminar is an invitation to learn about, reflect on, and reimagine our relationship with the land we are on. What history has brought us to the places we call home and what is our place within that history? Alongside personal reflections, we will begin by developing a collective understanding of the ways in which land dispossession, colonialism, and racial injustice are perpetuated through the disciplines of architecture, preservation, planning, and community development. Critical to this seminar will be confronting the legacy of loss and erasure embedded in our built and commemorative landscapes and the role of public memory and counternarratives in reframing our history and cultivating grounds for reconciliation. What tools can we use to combat historical and cultural amnesia and shift public consciousness to push reparations-driven planning, policy, and design? Through readings and other media, case studies, presentations, discussions, and guest lectures, we will co-create a vessel for multiple voices and perspectives on shaping and implementing socio-spatial approaches to reparations. An important focus of our research will be examples that center land return and challenge notions of property and ownership in favor of collective stewardship of the land. We will further expand our view through conversations on Indigenous and other non-Western ways of knowing that hold a mirror up to the knowledge economy of settler-colonialism. Our learning will be rooted in the belief that knowledge is not to be consumed, but rather earned, respectfully shared, and reciprocated. We will use this course as an opportunity to consciously build transparent relationships with each other and the Indigenous people of the land we are on and cultivate a meaningful connection with place that reconstructs architecture as a relational practice and embraces its role in reparations and restorative justice. 

ARC 626 Intellectual Domain- Situated Technologies-Shepard

Biased by Design: Algorithmic Governance and Urban Life

In the drive toward ever more optimal, efficient and sustainable urban environments, notions of algorithmic governance increasingly dominate discourse on smart cities and intelligent urbanism. Machine learning systems and their attendant extractive data practices are frequently cited both for their potential to make cities better places to live and their tendency to do harm by further exacerbating existing social and environmental injustice. Some champion the application of machine learning to environmental monitoring and traffic control, for instance, whereby threats to (and inconveniences of) urban life can be better anticipated and managed. Others point to the emergence of an urban-scale data determinism at work in forms of anticipatory governance such as predictive policing, whereby discriminatory algorithms calculate crime risk scores for different urban areas in order to optimize the allocation of law enforcement resources. This seminar will survey forms of algorithmic governance and the various forms of bias embedded within so-called smart urban systems and infrastructure. Through a series of readings, case studies, presentations and discussions, students will develop critical positions vis-à-vis the deployment of contemporary technologies within urban environments and their corresponding impact on urban life.

ARC 628- Intellectual Domain- Ecological Practices- Guitart

Course Title: Aberrant Ecologies

Nature has always been part of urban environments. Cities have attempted to consolidate the presence of natural growth within the built landscape of our infrastructures in the form of gardens, parks, street trees, and planters. However, the coexistence between nature and architecture is not evident or easy, much less successfully achieved. As cities expand, the projecting urban context leaves few opportunities for nature to evolve in its own terms and forms. As a result, the growth of cities continues to alienate citizens from nature, producing structural inequalities in the environment. Architecture and nature grow estranged from one another. Conversely, natural growth pushes back against the construction of the city. It emerges through cracks and crevices, offering alternative natural forms that contribute to a presence of nature in small, sometimes microscopic ways. These unstoppable forms of growth pose, in fact, true opportunities for nature to reaffirm its presence in cities' hard environments. Nowhere is this as visible as in gray infrastructures: parking lots, roads, utility corridors, strip centers, concrete pavements, asphalt patches, and areas with low maintenance. Typically, the presence of these 'unwanted' forms of nature are associated with lower income areas. The environmental value of these 'unwanted' growths conditions the ecological narratives of coexistence between the 'natural' and the 'artificial' in the city. In this context, an examination of the relationships between infrastructures, architecture, inclusion, nature, climate, and environment becomes urgent. Fringe growths needs to be reconsidered and reinvented as opportunities at unconventional scales and non-traditional formats with the potential to participate actively in the artificial dimension of the built environment, offering new forms of engagement between nature and architecture. This course addresses such exchanging condition through a series of readings, group discussions, photographic studies, and drawing explorations in the form of a graphic journey.


ARC 630- Intellectual Domain- Urban Design- Kickert

Place and placemaking are hotly topics among architects, urban designers, planners, and policy makers. But what is this rather abstract notion of ‘place’? What is placemaking, and why is it so central to many professional and academic discussions? Who are ‘placemakers’? Are we?

This course will demonstrate that ‘place’ and ‘non-place’ is all around us, and that a wide range of visions on place have greatly influenced our everyday environment. Through reading, discussing, analyzing, and designing our environment, you will learn how places shape us and how we shape places. You will also learn that so-called ‘placemakers’ are not just the usual suspects – although architects, urban planners and designers have certainly left their mark on the urban environment. In this course, you will witness the placemaking power of traffic engineers, psychologists, journalists, Olympic swimmers, stage set designers, social activists, but mostly the power of community members - including yourself.

This course introduces and explores the concepts and conceptions of place and placemaking through a mixture of lectures, discussions, analyses, and design exercises. As an intellectual domain seminar, we will read, watch, and discuss texts, documentaries and films on place and placemaking. But this course goes beyond. To truly learn about place, you will also read and discuss Buffalo, a treasure trove of landmarks in American placemaking and urban design. To put our thoughts on place and placemaking into practice, we will engage in a tactical placemaking design in Elmwood Village, in collaboration with the Elmwood Village Association. We hence run through the gamut of place from a theoretical, historical, and practical perspective. We conclude with a critical look forward at the future of places and placemaking, synthesizing the wide range of perspectives on who can and should impact our urban environments, and how they can maximize their potential.

ARC 630- Intellectual Domain- Urban Design- Hata

Theories of Urban Settlement Patterns

Course description pending. 

ARC 633- Intellectual Domain- Material Culture- Romano

This seminar will examine the historical and intellectual traditions of building with earthen materials such as sands, silts, clays, rocks, etc. in combination with supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs) such as volcanic ash, pumice, pozzolan, silica fume, rice hush ash, fly ash, blast furnace slag, and metakaolin. When combined and within the presence ofmoisture, each exhibit cementitious properties. This ancient technology (the precursor to modern concrete) has been inpractice for thousands of years and has regained attention as carbon reduction initiatives have regained globalsignificance. To that end, our research will be twofold: (1) a global examination of ‘primitive’ cultural and ‘low-tech’ building technologies that stabilize earth into useable and inhabitable spaces and (2) physical cementitious experiments thatexplore the material science of SCMs – the binder microstructure, particle type/distribution/shape/size, pore distribution and density. Both parallel trajectories will attempt to frame a holistic understanding of architectural design with earth that is guided by the four (4) philosophical principles:

 Building in such a way that a structure can return to “nature” after its service life without leaving behind any residues or contamination and break down into its original material constituents.

 Building in harmony with natural life cycles using the absolute minimum of grey energy in constructing, maintaining, and dismantling architectures

 Building with locally available and no-cost materials – using the earth taken from the construction site that is as pure and pristine as possible

 Advancing the idea of building with earth so that it is technically and logistically up to date, in the process of empowering the majority of the world’s population (where geographical appropriate) to utilize this technique to improve living standards .

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 quarries, geologic formations, and manufacturing facilities while interacting with scientists, geologists, engineers, and industry professionals.

Hands-on exercises in our Fabrication Workshop(s) exploring Compressed Earth Block (CEB) machinery and hydraulic squishing machinery will supplement weekly readings, writings, and graphic production. Approximately four (4) weeks of the course will be dedicated to an online collaborating with architecture students from Tecnológica de Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) as part of the Global Classroom Initiative.


Class Schedule

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