Graduate Required Courses
Arch 502 - Core Design Studio II
Mark Wamble - CLub life: strategies for an urban compound
For the duration of the semester this studio will address the design of an Urban Compound. The idea of a compound, urban or otherwise, is shaped by the organization of diverse activities distributed across discreet zones within a single site and with limited orientation to the outside. Often, these activities are arranged with a strong inward orientation to one another by way of a common space, or spaces, designed to mediate their interaction. The site for the compound is near the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Kirby Drive in Houston, Texas. The program for the Urban Compound is a day-to-night club called Club Life. Theoretical issues engaged by the design of this compound will relate urban continuity to architectural form, and architectural form to a saturated leisure program operating around the clock. Each of these issues will invoke the need for students to claim a new and relevant definition of edge, developed to manage spatial relationships at both the interior and exterior edges of the site. The design of an Urban Compound requires the architect to address two questions central to the formulation of any compound of structures situated within the limits of a city: what formal arrangements create an interior precinct oriented toward sets of internal programs and purposes, and what determines the outer urban edge of a project where external forces are identified and addressed, connecting the interior precinct to a broader continuity.
Arch 504 - Core Design Studio IV
Section 1 - Reto Geiser - Home, SWEET HOME?
This last semester in the graduate core studio sequence aims to develop the knowledge and the skills required to design innovative proposals at an urban scale. It prolongs the exploration of disciplinary probes in architecture while introducing more compound relationships between urbanism, form and program. Following an initial design research project that looked at the impact of high speed rail on the development of the polynuclear archipelago of Houston into a polycentric urban network, this is the second in a series of studios that trace forces of urban transformation and investigate the character of public space in an urban environment that will have to address an inevitable densification and its related infrastructural needs. In the context of the recent mortgage and foreclosure crisis, and with Houston’s projected population growth and a rising need for more dense and sustainable residential developments in mind, this design studio will tackle the development of a speculative approach to affordable large-scale housing. “Home, Sweet Home?” is a design and research project that will challenge the negative bias toward public housing based on a reassessment of American housing policies and practices, as well knowledge gained from the analysis of a long-standing tradition of successful public housing initiatives in Europe, and more recent developments in Switzerland in particular. Both research and design will be presented and documented in form of a continuously growing book project.
Section 2 - Neyran Turan - CAMPUS COMMONS
The studio concerns itself with the relationship between architecture and urbanism. At the midst of architecture’s relation to new scales of context and areas of knowledge (such as infrastructure, ecology, culture, politics, geography, economy, etc.), urbanism expands architecture and favors inclusiveness. Enabled and triggered by the dispersing qualities of urbanization and the widespread effects of globalization, urbanism interacts with larger systems via organization, programming and processes. In design fields, this has informed various practices within the last decade, including analytical tendencies of design as research/datascaping/mapping, everyday urbanism, disciplinary alignments in the context of landscape urbanism, infrastructural urbanism, and ecological urbanism, etc. However, architecture’s role within this framework has not been adequately scrutinized. While urbanism necessitates an expansive framework, architecture involves an act of spatial and mediatory demarcation. Striving to define an inside and an outside, architecture embodies the capacity to relate geometry to geography. When treated alone, both singularity of architecture (fantastic icon) and the multiplicity of urbanism (mere accommodation of external forces) will not suffice; they need each other’s strategic incorporation in order to exist. Albeit these mutual necessities, for the last decade, architecture and urbanism have marked a growing split, making an almost a half century old problematic more prominent: obsession with infrastructural/ecological systems on the one hand, and self-referential objects on the other, leaving architecture within an accumulated numbness of systems vs. objects. At this juncture, rather than a denial of the object on the one hand—where the object is substituted with and seen as a passive consequence of the management of flows, circulation and processes—or a denial of systems on the other—where larger systems and programs are seen as redundant—architecture needs new trajectories of interpretation. Further confusion over certain binaries will not get us anywhere (endless/bounded, system/object, soft/hard, individual/collective, determinate/indeterminate, political/aesthetic); we need architectures of Agonistic Architectural Urbanisms (A-A-U). Rather than using urbanism as an excuse for merely scenario building—which favors complexity and ambiguity—we will opportunistically exploit urbanism’s expansive nature. In parallel, rather than using architecture as diagrammatic container formalism, we will rigorously make use of architecture’s power to bring in specificity and legibility. A-A-U would favor anomalies over dialectics. It would abuse certain binaries without resorting into one while desiring the projection of new trajectories. Alternative worlds are hidden within the further synthesis of these potentialities.
Arch 602 - Architectural Problems
SECTION 1 - DANNY SAMUELS & NONYA GRENADER - RICE BUILDING WORKSHOP
Since 1996, the goal of the Rice Building Workshop has been to present opportunities for architecture students to work in the larger community where their creativity can be challenged by the demands of real-life problems. In this semester’s Graduate Option Studio, we will begin intensive work on a new project: a development strategy and detail design for Workshop Houston, a lively Third Ward group that works with community youth. We also have several projects in various stages of construction that will present various opportunities for your participation.
Section 2 - Albert Pope - FOAMS: IMAGINING MASS HOUSING, RSAASIA 2.0
The second run of the RSA Asia Studio will return to the Hong Kong, Shenzhen (HK/SHZ) area for a new phase of work building off the effort of Spring 2012. The Studio will be divided into three parts: Research and Design Preparation for seven weeks, Travel for 11 days and Project Design for six weeks. These three phases coincide with a process which first speculates through hypothesis in the research phase, then refines the hypotheses into a thesis in the travel phase, and finally synthesizes the semester’s work in the design phase.
Section 3 - Ron Witte - TWIN SKINNY
Skinny buildings implicate countless aspects of architecture and urbanism. Daylight, circulation, density, frontality, program, structure, envelope, and privacy are a sampling of the characteristics that protrude from thin buildings. On the surface, some architectural characteristics are enhanced by skinny buildings – access to sunlight, for example – while others are made worse – i.e. where to put circulation and services? Meanwhile some characteristics throw buildings and cities into extreme states: façades that are excessive on one side and anemic on another, or structure that teeters (vertically) on stiletto-like spindliness while being matter-of-factly resolved (horizontally) across the shortest of spans. This investigation into skinny buildings is the second in a series of Options studios focusing on architecture’s role vis-à-vis urban density. These studios are predicated on two underlying assertions. The first is that we are now pitching forward into new, and inevitable, forms of higher density urbanization. The second is that the city is an intrinsically architectural construct: urbanism is produced out of architecture (in contrast to the idea that the city can be promulgated as something called ‘urbanism’ and that architecture is relegated to filling out the mandate of that urbanism). Thinking “skinny” is no more, and no less, than peering through a lens at an alternative rule-set regarding this architecture-begets-the-city vantage point.
Section 4 - Sharon Johnston, mark lee & Andrea Manning - LA STRADA NOVISSIMA
The studio will investigate the intersection of two urban models - the Enclosed City and the Object City - through the design of a small to medium scale building situated on a new pedestrian street in the Design District of Miami. The Enclosed City, characterized by clearly delineated urban spaces of streets, squares, and boulevards, was a dominant concept of urban form up until the end of the 19th century. Within this model, every building is integrated into the street. The building façade becomes the sole mediator between interior and exterior. Architecture recedes into the background, and building type is subjugated to the larger urban form - with the exception of municipal and national centers which are excluded from this system. The Object City, propagated by opening up the enclosed block at the beginning of the 20th century, is the diametric opposite of the Enclosed City; in the Object City, buildings liberate themselves from the urban fabric. Within this model, every building is an autonomous object independently displayed – a privilege previously reserved for churches, town halls, and palaces. Buildings have greater freedom in type, and are insubordinate to the form constituted by urban space. Rather than viewing the Enclosed City and the Object City as mutually exclusive models, the studio will investigate a hybrid between the two as an opportunity to promote an alternative form of collectivity through the aggregation of singular and semi-detached buildings.
Arch 620 - Architectural Problems Paris Program
John Casbarian & Pierre David - HYBRID: PARIS & BEYOND
The goal of the studio is to explore the design implications of a specific building type, capable of accommodating multiple programs, diverse in scale and functions, and their effect on distinct urban contexts in Paris and beyond. This emerging type, the hybrid building, embodies the characteristics of high density living, (without isolating itself from its city context), so that it encourages social relations, develops economic opportunities and forges social links where they have been broken. The hybrid building can exist to respond to very specific local needs, accommodating such functions as libraries, social gathering spaces, cafés, restaurants, medical facilities, swimming pools, gyms and daycare centers. By grouping many of these overlapping public functions efficiencies may be achieved in their administration as well as in providing an environmentally responsible solution to urban growth. In contrast to the mixed-use building which organizes a number of functions into a singular structure while retaining its formal identity without the potential for change or urban transformation, the hybrid building can be understood as an assemblage of multiple mixed-use buildings combining complex and overlapping programs in ways that maintain the potential for their modification, evolution and reconfiguration. It will be the hypothesis of the studio that a hybrid building is intrinsically the embodiment of the vitality, life, motivations, and ambitions of the city context in which it exists. It is the expression of, and a paradigm for, the city understood as a living, open and creative stage that constantly generates and nurtures spaces by responding to new activities, as well as, by provoking and suggesting them. The hybrid building is not an inert body, but has a “dynamic presence” relating equally well to its many internal components and to the external world within which it exists. In other words, the complexity of its internal activities thrives on the interaction with all the external activities of the urban environment of which it is a part. In response, the studio will focus on the inter-relationships of the multiple program functions rather than the programs themselves. The design explorations will concentrate on the interaction of the resultant spaces that unfold in between and around the various functions and their individual or collective formal expressions.
Arch 702 - Pre-Thesis Preparation: Design Research
Thesis at Rice is the culmination of the Master of Architecture curriculum and, as such, it is the moment when the student contributes to and advances the discipline. Students participate in thesis preparation during their penultimate semester; the aim of this course is to locate potential thesis topics and hone those topics by situating them within a lineage of architectural and urban paradigms. The aim is also to develop and rehearse a focused argument for your particular approach to the topic. The thesis design project tests this approach in a project, the underpinnings of which seek a synthesis of intellectual and design objectives. Thesis concludes with a public final review, where the project is evaluated both on its own terms and within the broader field of contemporary architectural discourse. Thesis work spans two semesters. This first semester is aimed at the articulation of a Thesis Proposal. The thesis proposal should clearly outline the problem to be addressed, its architectural implications, and its projected material results. It is essential that the proposal present a concept, design methodology, site, and program for the project. In short, the thesis proposal poses a question that motivates and provokes design work in the semester to follow. An annotated reading list and/or catalog of informational resources should also be included.
Arch 509 Technology II - The Shell
This course explores continuous structural systems including slabs, shells, shear planes, and monocoque, where structural members merge into an undifferentiated whole. This concept is placed in a context of material properties, structural behavior, natural forces, industrial systems, construction techniques, economic imperatives, sustainability, programatic requirements, and architectural ideas to examine what factors drive the selection of structural systems. Lectures focus on structural concepts, illustrated with wide variety of built examples from throughout the world. Homeworks focus on calculation, using structural analysis software. The final project involves the design, detailing, and calculation of a structural system for a selected program.
Arch 516 Technology IV - The Environment
This course is an introduction to Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in residential and commercial buildings. Electrical and plumbing systems will also be addressed, but to a lesser degree. The course will address principles of human comfort, heat flow in buildings, types and characteristics of various HVAC equipment and air distribution types. Students will become familiar with basic HVAC concepts and will learn to select and estimate the size of an appropriate HVAC system. HVAC issues for specific building types will be discussed, along with how HVAC systems affect life safety, energy consumption and sustainability. Field trips will feature examples of relevant HVAC systems and how they integrate with architectural design. Each student’s class project will involve HVAC selection, sizing, layout and design for a specific building he/she selects. The goal is that you have sufficient ‘big picture’ understanding of MEP (mechanical / electrical / plumbing ) systems----so that you can effectively lead the design team, advise your client on options and design a building that is safe, comfortable, sustainable and affordable.
History & Theory
Arch 525 - History & Theory I (Introduction to Architectural Thinking)
This introductory course exposes students to issues and debates that have driven architects and theorists from the early twentieth century to the present. The course is structured around a sequence of fourteen themes that have recurred as major issues throughout architectural history. Focusing on topics, ranging from representation, to media, to politics, urbanity, or the environment, each theme is presented as a debate between differing viewpoints, in order to expose the positions that have motivated both theory and practice. We will be analyzing buildings and discussing canonical texts. Discussion in class and writing assignments provide opportunities for students to develop their own positions on the issues debated, and to refine their ability to make arguments.
Arch 645 - History & Theory II (Pre-1890)
Following a 'case study' model, this course is an exploration of a particular theme in architectural history, i.e, when exemplary structures –be they mythical or real, Western or Eastern– get 'canonized' and thereby adopt the status of reference. A close analysis of selected buildings will therefore serve to identify the underpinnings of the very ideas of canon in order to highlight specific issues: the canon as norm, myth, tradition, form, as well as the inevitable repression of other seemingly 'unworthy' architectural production. Buildings, or architectural complexes, including imaginary or destroyed structures, will be selected from Antiquity through the 19th century, and will primarily exist in Western contexts with occasional escapades in the East. The purpose of this course is to otherwise trace a long process by which architecture has relied on texts in order to legitimize the many forms it has taken.
Arch 646 - History & Theory III (1890-1968)
This course surveys the history and theory of architecture and urbanism between 1890 and 1968, tracing the critical shifts in architectural thought and practice that inaugurated, constituted, and questioned architectural modernism. In particular, the course considers the development of architectural knowledge as the field engaged and contributed to the great social, political, cultural, and technological changes of the period. Organized around a series of significant case studies considered particular, designed responses to their material, intellectual, and sociopolitical context, the course elucidates the influence of contingent conditions on architectural design, but emphasizes the designer’s efforts to reinforce, reform, or transform those conditions. The course charts the ongoing attempt to account for this activity historically and theoretically and the operative role of these accounts both during the period and subsequently.
Arch 652 - History & Theory IV (Post-1968)
This course examines a series of recent architectural projects in the late 20th through the early 21st century, a timeframe characterized (in part) by problems of, one the one hand, the autonomy of architecture as a discipline, and on the other hand, the field's relevance to emerging social, cultural, and environmental transformations or crises. The course examines this simultaneous need for greater disciplinary expertise and broadening of interdisciplinary engagement through the rubric of “ecology.” Rather than simply instrumentalize ecology to assert a normative imperative, the course approaches it critically, as a means of retrospective and projective problematization of its objects of study. This use of ecology as an organizational and conceptual framework focuses on the relationship of relatively autonomous, finite and coherent systems within larger complexes of systems, or the environment. Both inform and transform each other; thus they are are distinct but also interdependent. Thus it may provide useful in advancing the understanding of architecture as a specific field of knowledge and distinctive way of operating within the world -- and transforming it.
Arch 623 - Professionalism & Management in Architectural Practice
ALAN FLEISHACKER & JIM FURR
This is the course that wraps everything up. You will learn what is expected of you as an architect in actual practice and as a professional under the law. We will discuss the many people you will deal with, the challenge of finding solid projects, how to start and preserve a firm, the essentials of the contracts that confront you in the profession, and what to do when it all goes badly. You will also learn through the independent research of a specific topic related to the practice and write a paper to answer specific questions and provide evidence-based arguments to support your conclusions. One semester is too short for thorough absorption of this broad material. This course is just the beginning of a commitment to continuing the process, complete your education, and entering the practice.