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    What Fast Co. Design Gets Wrong, and Other Manufactured Outrages

    Michael Monti
    Dec 27, '13 1:15 PM EST

    Architecture school design/build programs, in which students both design and construct a project at full scale, can provide a tremendous learning experience. This is why over 70% of accredited architecture programs in North America have them (data here). Fast Company Design recently highlighted a documentary film, Reality Check, about one such program by interviewing professors Marie and Keith Zawistowski from Virginia Tech’s design/buildLAB.

    The article’s content could hardly be more straightforward. But a simple feel-good story promoting a worthy film and educational program probably doesn’t attract as many readers (and as much advertising revenue) as one led by the headline that Fast Company Design chose: “What Architecture Schools Get Wrong.”

    What the article proposes is “wrong” about this entire educational sector isn’t made apparent until the final lines of the piece, where Marie Zawistowski is quoted as saying—incorrectly—that only a “minority” of architecture schools have design-build programs.

    To be fair, the Zawistowskis may not agree with the headline of the story in the first place. They are rightly enthusiastic about their pedagogy and proud of their students. The editors are wrong in concluding that the strengths of some programs prove the failings of all the others.

    Fast Company would better serve its readership by checking the facts of its interviewees prior to publication. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), in collaboration with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), regularly gathers and publishes information and statistics about architectural education in North America. Feel free to get in touch with us next time you need a reality check.


    • Thank you for this! I read the Fast Co article this morning - from a FB link, and mainly due to the inflammatory headline - and was left scratching my head at the end wondering what was "wrong".

      Which is not to diminish VTech's LAB program at all.  It's a very good article about their work and about how beneficial doing construction is for architecture students. it's just that it's not a rarity in the field, by any means.

      Dec 27, 13 2:21 pm  · 

      way true. we do design build as a matter of course and have been for decades. its not exactly common but even in japan its fairly normalized as pedagogy goes. Anyway, its not really nice to say one program is great because everyone else has it wrong...its just differently cool...

      Dec 28, 13 9:38 am  · 

      yep. virginia tech's program is doing some great work, and others (more than suggested?) are also doing things along similar lines.

      but it's not the only way to teach architecture.

      maybe not always the best. different strokes...

      Dec 30, 13 3:24 pm  · 

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About this Blog

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture is a nonprofit membership organization, founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education. Our members are over 250 schools, including all accredited programs in the USA and Canada, schools seeking accreditation, and non-accredited and international programs--representing over 40,000 architecture faculty and students.

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  • Michael Monti
    Michael Monti Washington, DC, US
  • Lian Chikako Chang
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