Spring 2017 Electives


FWIS 168 - Freshman Writing Seminar: Case Studies on Building Design Problems


This course is not for the faint of heart. We will read and analyze case studies, project documents and other source materials on buildings that have experienced serious design problems and ended up in the news and in court. Some major buildings lose their high-rise windows inexplicably, others experience catastrophic structural failures, while others are saved from disaster through brilliant professional skill and sheer luck. After learning the facts, we will ask you to write about what went right and wrong, why the situation happened, who caused the problem, who saved the day and who should have acted differently. Another aspect we will study is the public perception of architectural and engineering design when confronted with unfavorable news coverage. The broad goals of the course are to improve and refine your ability to think and write critically and powerfully, and to present a convincing argument on the written page and in person. Open to non-architecture students.


Arch 260 - Advocating for Ideas to Change the World


Advocating for change is an experiential learning course that teaches students how to engage in issue advocacy as a method of social change.  Students work in teams with faculty mentors to develop and implement an advocacy plan for a particular cause or policy of interest. 


Arch 305/605 - Architecture for Non-Architects


This seminar introduces non-architecture students to how architects think about, view and produce the built environment. Ways of working common to architectural design will be introduced and explored through careful readings of buildings and places through creative design speculations. Weekly discussions and hands-on exercises centered on a single theme will teach students how to more precisely interpret their surroundings and more critically engage architects and architecture. Class meetings will be lead by a group of select graduate and fifth-year students pursuing a professional degree in architecture. Only open to non-architecture students.


Arch 317/617 - Landscape & Site Strategies for Houston


This course is a workshop in site planning, with Houston as its focus. A series of lectures presented by guest experts on various aspects of the local environment -- including geology, hydrology, soil science, and planning regulations -- serve as a rich and unique introduction to the city. Seeing Houston through these adjacent disciplines will help illuminate the many complex issues that go into plugging a building into a site, helping you become more disciplined, inventive, and effective in your own work. A series of parallel exercises over the course of the semester will help you gain practice assessing, cataloging, communicating, and laying the groundwork for your own ideas. We will draw a lot. Open to qualified non-architecture students.


Arch 322/622 - Case Studies in Sustainability: The High Performance Building on Rice Campus 


This course will explore application of high performance, sustainable design to specific Rice University campus and facility targets. In partnership with Rice University leadership, the team effort will develop “regenerative redesign” approaches based on investigation of other campuses. Space is limited and registration does not guarantee a space in this course. The final course roster is formulated on the first day of class by the individual instructor. Open to non-architecture students.


Arch 323 (2) - Adaptation: Restoration, Renovation,


Adaptive re-use is both a philosophy and a practice. We will consider the “why” and “how” in the full range of architectural rehabilitation: meticulous restorations, modest renovations, and innovative forms of re-use. Using case studies as a background, adaptation will be examined at various scales, including materials, buildings, historic districts, and landscapes. The numerous forces that shape these projects will be evaluated: context, concepts, methods, economics, public policy, and sustainability. Every existing building occupies a place in the present while maintaining a position in the past; in this seminar, we will speculate on their participation in the future. The seminar is open to architecture students and non-architecture students.


Arch 323/523 (3) - Model Object


Digital models are central to the design process, more and more displacing drawing as the basis of representation, calculation, and communication. In the context of a material practice, they aid in the simulation of complex behavior, facilitate the description of form, and provide a direct means of machine translation into physical artifacts. MODEL OBJECT introduces students to the reciprocal and nonlinear relationship between the digital model and physical object. Neither of which operate on their own and both of which could benefit from a better understanding of the other. Concise lectures and readings on relevant technical and historical concepts will supplement a serial, comparative investigation: the design of a digital object and its translation into successive material constructs, digitally fabricated and disciplined in geometry, scale, material, and tectonic. Open to architecture & qualified non-architecture students (Prerequisites: Rhinoceros 3D Digital Modeling skills).


Arch 323/523 (3) - Architectural Representation


The seminar objective is to investigate existing models of representation and to develop new models of representation. Students will visit buildings and look at original drawings as a way to contemplate architecture through first hand exposure. The class is structured around a one-hour lecture presentation followed by an hour and a half assignment review. Lectures, readings and group discussions will facilitate an understanding of existing techniques for depicting architectural elements, concepts and experiences; whereas, the assignments will make room for the invention of a new model of representation to best reflect architecture today. Open to architecture students only.


Arch 330/630 - Rice Building Workshop Seminar + House


The Rice Building Workshop involves undergraduate and graduate students in the design and construction of real community-based projects at various scales. In the Spring 2016 semester, we will continue work on the +House, a prefabricated backyard accessory dwelling unit of 250 sf. Our goal is to fabricate and install the prototype unit. Architecture students will be collaborating with engineering students. The course is open to qualified non-Architecture majors. No prerequisites.


Arch 363/663 - Architectural Freehand Drawing Workshop


The objective of this workshop is to develop improved visualization abilities, i.e., formation of mental visual images and transformation of those images into drawing skills. Learning how to draw better begins with learning how to see clearer. Students will practice and develop a series of drawing methods and techniques in the context of the architectural design process. Emphasis will be on the development of free-hand drawing that enhance the ability of the designer in communicating conceptual ideas, especially the role of working design experiments on overlays of tracing paper. Exercises use sketching as a method of improving the way one sees things and enhancing one’s thinking in graphic terms. Open to non-architecture students with instructor approval based on demonstration of a minimum ability to draw.


Arch 412/612 (1) - Constructing images: case studies in architecture, film, literature and music


Images saturate our lives, confirming Italo Calvino’s remark of living in “an unending rainfall of images.” Across this relentless deluge, images appear and disappear in a maddening competition for attention (propelled by an unprecedented speed of production and consumption, and by an ever insatiable market of far reaching tentacles). This blatant exploitation permeates everything from politics to entertainment, from art to fashion, from food to architecture….. Living within this daily, vast, and pervasive “culture of images” posits interesting challenges for the architect to remain a critical and effective maker of images. This course closely examines a selection of works in architecture, film, literature and music in order to reveal how images transcend their initial evocation, fabrication, or manipulation. In particular, the seminar focuses on the intricate construction of images that make, bind and liberate each examined work. Open to architecture students only.


Arch 412/612 (2) - TBD


Architecture is practiced in the space between the imagined and the built. Operating in this zone between speculations and realizations architects construct plausible fictions that transcend the material facts of the built and connect with broader cultural meaning. These fictions range from the hyper-rational to the trite but are instrumental in understanding the ambitions of a practice and the visions it intends to construct. This seminar explores the recent history of several of these plausible fictions especially as they relate to form, composition and representation. Open to qualified non-architecture students who have taken at least one intro course in architecture or art history.


Arch 412/612 (4) - History Repeating


Despite severe criticism of modern architecture’s dogmatic nature, it is striking that various advancements, and deviations of modernist design principals have survived to this day. This seminar is based on the assumption that the foundation of modernism’s persistence is directly related to a perpetuation of pedagogical innovations that were introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century, and still dominate foundational design instruction to this day. The ambition of this reading-intense class is twofold: We will closely dissect theoretical statements and pedagogical ambitions on the one hand, and meticulously analyze related projects on the other. Following a systematic overview of educational systems that have shaped our profession, we will look at four specific case studies, and discuss both pedagogical ambitions and the resulting architectural production. Open to upper level art history students and architecture students who have completed the history/theory sequence.


Arch 412/612 (4) - Architecture and the City


Even as they directed the analytical window toward the City, two previous books by Lars Lerup still entertained in their margins the suggestion that the traditional City is no longer a viable central focus. The city has become but a single phenomenon, albeit a dominant one, in an array of many others within the fabric of total urbanization. This may at first appear as an insignificant perceptual shift, but once we acknowledge that the concentration on the city implicitly accepts a sedentary, centralized phenomenon, then the change of focus to urbanization shifts our attention to advancement, to the process of creating an ever-expanding footprint. Although our work has moved back and forth between the outer and inner edges of urbanization, it has always been drawn, as if by an invisible hand, toward the centrifugal forces of the central city. However, with increasing evidence of a polycentric pattern in urban growth, the city’s very center is imploding. With this collapse, the natural focus on the city dissolves. Suddenly, a middle landscape with multiple center-like agglomerations has replaced the bull’s-eye of the traditional city. The troublesome internal paroxysms that have unsettled the sedentary nature of the center (and torqued our analytical windows) rapidly change in character when we see their turbulence as the very nature of urbanization. Open to upper level architecture undergraduate and graduate students; preference will be given to architecture students.


Arch 605 - Architecture for Non-Architects


This course is a 3 credit-hour graduate seminar for six selected graduate/fifth-year architecture students interested in teaching design to undergraduate students from other majors. Students will lead instruction of an undergraduate architectural design seminar, ARCH 305 “Architecture for Non-Architects,” contributing to syllabus design, preparing and delivering lectures and design exercises and leading pin-ups under the supervision of Prof. John Casbarian.


Arch 610 - History, Theory & Structure: Paris Program 


This course is comprised of multiple formal and informal modules each lasting 3 - 5 weeks each, either overlapping or following the other, with meeting times determined by the nature of the module. Other site visits, guest lectures, study travel trips are also part of the course experience.