Adaptations in studio during COVID-19 include return to drawing

Studio sketches, spring 2020.

Study sketches, Resilience Hub for Black Rock, northwest Buffalo, 2020

Published September 22, 2020

Professor Brian Carter recently reflected in "Drawing Matter" on how the coronavirus pandemic changed methods of teaching and making in studio at the School of Architecture and Planning.

Carter was part of a six-person faculty team behind the junior architecture studio, which focused on the design of a Resilence Hub – a community center to serve residents of the Black Rock neighborhood in Buffalo as a refuge during emergencies.

The studio began in January 2020 with more than 70 students gathering in large day-lit studio spaces in Crosby Hall on UB's South Campus. Their introductory exercise required each student to design and build a ‘laufmaschine’ – a precursor of the bicycle invented in 1815 in response to a catastrophic volcanic eruption that changed the global climate. Site visits to Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood ensued as students considered their design concepts for a Resilience Hub. The studio was abuzz with group meetings and one-on-one desk crits with faculty members. Visits with technical specialists and visiting critics were in the works just as the pandemic set in and students returned home for remote learning.

Says Carter: "Having worked directly with students in the studio for the first half of the semester, the sudden enforced separation was a major disruption that demanded radical adjustments."

Carter notes, however, that the studio was able to maintain the hands-on nature of the studio through drawing "All students in the studio were encouraged to participate in live [online] conversations and draw spontaneously to explain their design intentions and priorities. Faculty also drew."

"Sketches and diagrams were developed and annotated prior to being projected across the studio via laptop cameras and onto screens. This process was repeated during all online sessions and designs developed through conversations and shared iterative design studies. Drawing and drawings took on particular significance."