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Do teachers need to know the current technologies to teach architecture?

Heather Flood, Chair of B. Arch and M.Arch at Woodbury University, Burbank discuss several issues on architecture, including whether or not teachers need to know the technologies students are using to be an effective teacher.

I tend to think not. That said, i've always found it comforting when teachers, design directors, PMs know at least something about the programs we use... and how work is actually done.

 
Jan 22, 19 12:14 pm
Non Sequitur

software is just a tool.  You need to know how to use them, obviously, but you don't need one to learn design.



Jan 22, 19 12:23 pm
placebeyondthesplines__

design is inextricably linked to the tools available for its execution, though. access to a 7-axis robot is going to enable certain kinds of exploration that would never present themselves in a shop full of traditional woodworking tools. 


likewise, an understanding of available software/fabrication equipment’s strengths and limitations is necessary to knowledgeably critique design work that requires those technologies. teachers don’t need to be experts, but they do need enough understanding to communicate about the work without dismissing it. 

Jan 22, 19 12:53 pm
homme_du_jura

Should teachers need to know current technologies? I think so.  So much of what one designs is influenced by the means that one plans on using to achieve a satisfactory solution. Some aspects of architectural education can be taught regardless of the current software, such as basic structural statics, basic envelope systems, legible drawing graphics, programming and planning. But more specific aspects with regards to formal exploration and computational design requires teachers to understand what's out there and how the software works. I find that software affects the design workflow of designers more than they are willing to admit.

Jan 22, 19 1:36 pm
placebeyondthesplines__

yep, exactly what i said.

BjörkIngels

I agree with homme_du_jura on this one, software (tools) absolutely affect the design outcomes and the representations of those outcomes as well. For instance, its pretty obvious when a student's project was designed in Revit vs Rhino just based on the graphics and how each program behaves on its own. Efficiency in a software also leads to certain techniques and workflows in design that have very apparent outcomes in the real world. It's not too difficult to take a look out the window (at least here in Chicago) and pick what buildings were most likely designed in Revit.

During my undergraduate education my first studio course was taught by a prof that didn't know how to use Rhino, and could therefore not answer any questions students had about how to achieve certain design intent within the software. To me its a no brainer. If you have a great design idea but nobody with the know-how of how to execute it, you most likely won't get the design outcome or the educational outcome you want. Of course you can go teach yourself with youtube etc, but then it begs the question of what the majority of your tuition is going towards...

Jan 22, 19 5:11 pm
tintt

We weren't allowed to use software for the first couple of years and it wasn't encouraged after that either. This is because it was considered to be a bad idea to let the software do the thinking and designing for you which is what tended to happen. We don't design with building codes in school either. What is the point of school again?

Jan 22, 19 5:45 pm
JLC-1

open your mind and show you the world

Rusty!

Point of school is to give you a work ethic and basic ability to communicate via design. If school only teaches you to design via Rhino and you otherwise can't even draw a square on a piece of paper, your education has failed you.

tintt

No software needed sounds like to me.

Steeplechase

When I started, being caught using a computer was grounds for an automatic F in studio for the first two years (B.Arch). Even presentation boards were to be done by hand. That was no longer the case when I left which I think is really disappointing. I can see the value in teaching something like Revit, but it should be in a more structured setting to provide applicable experience to future work and not as a focus for studio.

JLC-1

I must be way older than the OP, when I read "technologies" I think of construction technology, not software development and marketing.

Jan 22, 19 5:56 pm
placebeyondthesplines__

yep, you are old.

JLC-1

thanks! it must suck to be an young architect and all you have to show is "software competencies".


Rusty!

Old people unite! Why does our Revit now have "export to instagram" and "notify by twitter" plugins. I wanna speak to person who though Revit was something we needed in the first place.

Non Sequitur

^ This.

placebeyondthesplines__

point me to where anyone but you said “all you have to show” is software competency. your inability to adapt (and weird misplaced pride in that inability) isn’t anyone’s problem but your own.

Sharky McPeterson

^weird misplaced pride in the inability to use modern-day tools seems all too common.

mightyaa

'why we need Revit'... Autodesk spends over a half a million just in lobbying the feds... about 1/6th of intel's lobbying efforts. No idea how much to lobby all states and cities to require all publicly funded projects be done in Revit... they are selling that our clients should require it as a standard as hard if not harder than they sell to the user.

placebeyondthesplines__

are these dinosaurs still completing drawing sets by hand? probably not; more likely they just arbitrarily decided that autocad should be where design technology ends (because they lack the capacity to learn anything more complex). must be rough waking up every day knowing you’ve been completely left behind.

JLC-1

hint - it's not "design technology" it's just a software like word or paint, a bit more complicated, but anyone can learn it, unlike "design". And you are driving thanks to the dinosaurs, so until you get rid of them, respect.

mightyaa

lol place... I'm a dinosaur. Realistically, if you are using Revit, you didn't get far in your career. I use red-pens and bluebeam to redline what the cad monkeys put together. I use Word and Excel (and a whole other bunch of software) a lot more often now in these days. So, also keep in mind this "design technology" you speak of is a tool of production staff; not management, not design oversight, not firm direction, not marketing, etc.. I know it only so far as to be able to redline, get information, and understand what you "production" folks do so I can figure out schedules, milestones, deadlines, proposals, etc. So, to teach Revit would be acknowledging a focus will be production; it is not necessary for any other role in a architecture firm. Back in the day, they didn't teach us drafting either......

Rusty!

Dinosaurs uniteee! I actually love bluebeam and hope it completely eliminates need for Adobe Acroshit. Of course most architects keep up with technologies, but your payscale will overgrow certain tasks. Me dicking around in Revit is a bad investment since someone else can do it just as well for half the price. Project Management might as well be a complete different profession from production side, and as an Architect you are expected to have mastery of it all. And you will, but not all of it at the exact same time. It's like taking a decade break between watching each episode of a trilogy. Technically you have seen it all, but finer details of first one are foggy.

Non Sequitur

I'm heading a large revit conversion in our office... been several years in the planning, but now we've got massive projects that will require a whole bunch of people to learn it... and as a PA, I can't spend time constantly fixing mistakes in the junior staff's models. Had to jump in and help out some time ago and the partners had to find room in the budget to account for an entire month of my time. 

 Perhaps if they did actually teach software (separate to design studios), then those software proficiency graphs everyone puts on their CVs would be useful?  I'm actually booked to give a lecture to a local college tech class on the difference between BIM theory and BIM in the real world soon.  I'll try to keep the swearing to a minimum.

placebeyondthesplines__

never said a single word about revit. was referring more specifically to rhino/grasshopper (though not exclusively), which can be used as generative tools, despite your failure to grasp them as such.

placebeyondthesplines__

also, since reading comprehension seems to have failed you sundowners, the original question was about teachers' facility with software and how it relates to critiquing student work. not practitioners' depressing resistance to inevitable change.

Cosmos

"whether or not teachers need to know the technologies students are using to be an effective teacher?"

If the class is focused on how a student should learn to be more tech savvy, then I say yes.  It would be helpful for the teacher to know how to use these new technologies in effort to aide them on achieving a fancy design or avoiding time wasting pit-falls.  

Also, I think it depends on the teachers' pedagogy and ethos, on how and when technology should be applied.  But an effective teacher in architectural design does not need to know (operating/use) any software if they chose not to, however they should at least be aware of it.  

Some of these new technologies which students are getting a hold of is Revit.  Which is a very heavy handed real-world use application.  It's very effective for creating construction documents, and that's about it.  I've seen student-designs driven by Revit, and they look very similar to what's getting built today by cheap developers.  I still don't understand why teachers allow for students to use Revit as a design tool.  There are so many other tools which are more applicable, including your own hand.

Jan 22, 19 9:47 pm
randomised

Revit is not a "new technology"...

Cosmos

For those over the age of 45 or so it is

Cosmos

Not all 45 yo folks, but most

randomised

BIM has been around since the late 80s, it is as much new technology as a beeper, Walkman or a boombox.

tintt

I used BIM 15 years ago and use CAD now. I think it's ok. Dinosaurs!

Cosmos

Well please enlighten me. What is "new technology", applicable in today's industry?

Rusty!

Energy modelling tools have become a must in commercial sector due to ever more stringent energy/building codes. Even millenials don't care for it, because it's pretty damn unfun.

randomised

You need to know those technologies exist and what the possibilities are, at the very least. You are preparing your students to work in a world where these technologies exist and can play a major role in what it means to be working in our industry. I find it weird why you wouldn't want to know what's going on out there, especially when you are a teacher.

Jan 23, 19 3:30 am
3tk

I would think this depends on what it is they are teaching.  Theory and history, perhaps not so much.  Studio, it would be helpful if they understood how the tools worked, but not necessarily to point of being experts (in my experience, you can have teaching assistants that can help assist that portion).  If they are teaching technology or a course that is meant to teach the software, then yes (pro-prac and design development were two while I was going through schoool where they tried to integrate a more 'real project' as part of the course and we had instructors knowledgeable in the software.

As others have noted, it is important for studio instructors to understand the workflow in software and where it is helpful and where it is not.  A large part of the helpful instruction I've received is in judicious use of software and understanding of using the tools and not being limited by the software.  Not everyone on the faculty should be expected to be able to troubleshoot software or teach the commands, etc.

Jan 23, 19 4:09 pm
danielha

For those of you who think a tool is just a tool, I want to say that a tool is a part of design skills. It allows us to create a new type of designs.

Think about the designs of Zaha Hadid, it was not allowed hundred years ago. Im not saying it is a better design but now we have a wider range of design choices. 

As a teacher, how could you teach students if you dont know what is a possible designs and what is not. Otherwise, are you just gonna limit your students within design spectrum you have?


Jan 23, 19 11:10 pm
Non Sequitur

you don't need fancy software to design funky things when in school.

JLC-1

zaha hadid did not have the "tools" when she started drawing a la malevich in school, just paper, ink and a twisted brain. and didn't do anything "parametric" until the 2000's. we're talking less than 20 years ago. FOG was the pioneer with catia starting with the guggenheim, but he doesn't do catia, he just crumbles papers and draws with a fountain pen in his left foot.

JLC-1

built 100 years ago with only pencil and paper

randomised

I always thought they used bricks and stucco...

tintt

because pencils and pens can only draw in straight lines. got it.

JLC-1

what?

tintt

I use 3x5 notecards. Then make flip books from them. 

I suppose the real question is if the teacher is teaching design or technique. if it's design, then... no knowledge of tools is necessary. it feels like focusing on technique would limit your thinking to craft, tools, processes and etc. TBH i feel like most studios, students, curriculums 'nowadays' focus more on technique.

randomised

And by technique you mean software?

placebeyondthesplines__

this is such an embarrassing take from DBL. “if it’s design, then... no knowledge of tools is necessary” is an astoundingly ignorant statement. for the entire history of architecture, the tools and materials available to realize a design have played an integral role in approaching the design problem. access to a broader toolset will yield a broader spectrum of successful answers to a given architectural question. teachers have a responsibility to adapt to the evolving processes their students embrace, not to maintain a regressive status quo out of laziness, stubbornness, or lack of intellectual curiosity.

mightyaa

Ah danielha, you place too much faith that the tools make the designer.  ...  Lovely article here including drawings: https://archleague.org/article...

No calculators, 3D software, engineering programs, etc. were used.  I'd even argue that due to software, it has dumbed down the construction industry as a whole over time.  I doubt you could find more than a handful of engineers or architects who could design and engineer this sort thing, much less a GC who could construct it.  Yet the world is full of stuff like this from back in the days when travel was by horseback (also meaning there were enough skilled tradesmen, designers, and materials regionally to accomplish this sort of thing)...   But ya... Zaha Hadid I'm sure could have done better if only there was better software because those before were just so limited creating complex shapes... 

Jan 24, 19 12:19 pm
Non Sequitur

see exhibit A: Sagrada Familia.

JLC-1

or any medieval cathedral, for those you needed real tools.

Non Sequitur

I was referring to Sagrada 1.0

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