Iowa State University B.Arch.

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    NAAB Accreditation

    By jtwang
    Apr 25, '13 10:18 PM EST

    This semester, Iowa State's B.Arch. and M.Arch. programs were reviewed for NAAB accreditation. For a few months, the College of Design was packed with models, drawings, and presentation boards.

    Second year projects emphasized exploration through drawing.

    Machines from the second years.

    Publications by the faculty were on display.

    A Miami Hotel option studio project.

    A mapping from an independent study.

    CODA projects dealt with the ISU cemetery.

    A huge gathering of models in the center of the atrium.

    At the end of the process, the accreditation team went over the objectives and explained where the pros and cons of what they saw. They were impressed by the work and especially by the engagement with physical models. However, we did not pass the requirements for "comprehensive design," because life safety and accessibility were not handled sufficiently. Presumably, in many of the comprehensive projects, door swings and fire stairs were not designed correctly, and ADA-compliant hand-/guardrails were often not shown. This begins to raise questions pertaining to the role of education. How important is code compliance in academic projects?


    • observant

      It is important but NAAB should know that virtually every school is "insufficient" at this task.  They simply cannot teach students the building code in a way that is retained for the duration of an architecture program, except in a conceptual way.  Door swings and handrails?  Good God.  We touched on some of these issues, including egress calculations, though in the technology sequence and not in the studio sequence.  This sort of stuff is not micromanaged in the design studio, even in the bread and butter schools.  I had atria in several of my projects and we all know atria have huge code ramifications, especially depending on how many stories they occupy and penetrate. 

      This is the kind of stuff people learn in an office, through detailing, and en route to the licensing exam.

      BTW, the most prominent of those Miami hotels, show as a model, is nicely done.  The flare of the mostly solid side, which tapers and then flares out again, fetches attention.  It looks like the program puts out good work.

      Apr 26, 13 10:10 pm

      Codes are important and if NAAB is hung up on that one issue, then I think the program is doing well this is a simple thing to fix. 

      ADA and life safety do shape design in huge and small ways, part of design training is to work within set guidelines, codes and egress are among the many things designers have to balance.  Having two exits on each floor and ADA bathrooms, which are well published and documented online, are appropriate request at the 3rd year studios and above. This is simple to fix just mention these requirements at the beginning of the project. Most architecture students should know how to do this kind of code research by their third year in college.


      Over and OUT

      Peter N

      Apr 27, 13 8:52 am


      I agree that it's an easy fix and is able to be included in the curriculum - we learned about egress, accessible sloping at entries and walkways, dead end corridors, and these kinds of things.  Some students who viewed architecture more holistically included these features.  Others were in the 11th week of the term and still working on a piece of sculpture.  People just shrug.  No one looks at what anyone else is doing, and it wasn't considered cool to point it out, unless someone solicited an opinion.  Also, some professors are more involved than others.  With 15 to 20 people in a studio, and when the building program is complex and over 100,000 sf, even the professors give this sort of stuff a cursory overview and, unless for some reason it stares at them in the face, they don't address it either.  However, in the workplace, we know every nook and cranny is micromanaged, as it should be.  And, if they miss it at work, the building official "ought" to catch it, and if he/she doesn't, then "oh shit."  However, I have never see it go that far.

      Apr 27, 13 3:27 pm

      Any studio environment is limited by the time frame of the quarter/semester length. So yes, some professors might skim over that sort of detail in various beginning/intermediate studios. It certainly isn't fair to be throwing too much detail at people who haven't learned how to refine their process of concept-to-building.

      That being said, part of a comprehensive project/thesis is an assumption that real world constraints and guidelines are a big factor in a project. Even introducing someone to the process of referencing the IBC or local jurisdiction can pay major dividends in design, especially when most academic projects aren't bounded by a budget. Professors should have faith that the most talented students (and usually, the work the school keeps after graduation for these kinds of reviews) will embrace these kinds of constraints and hold them to a higher degree of accountability in their work.

      Apr 29, 13 11:18 am

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