Visual Communication & Design Thinking

A glimpse into the U-SOA through my eyes.

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    New Courses on Embedded Technology are featured at the UM SOA

    Joachim Perez
    Oct 18, '15 6:19 PM EST

    In 2013 Rodolphe el-Khoury gave a lecture at TEDxToronto where he discussed the relevance of embedded technology and architecture and dubbed it “The Internet of Things”.  Now entering his second year as the Dean of the University Of Miami School Of Architecture, el-Khoury is implementing new initiatives and courses that follow this idea. 

    One such enterprise has been the development of RAD-UM, a spinoff of the Responsive Architecture at Daniels (University of Toronto) Lab.  The lab’s day to day operations are headed up by a research associate, Christopher Chung, and composed of different faculty members between the Architecture & Engineering departments.  Part think-tank and part innovative prototyping center, the lab has already become a valuable resource allowing students to engage in parametric software and programming language.  They’ve also developed interesting projects such as an interactive coffee table for the eMerge Americas 2015 Conference, and a portable college fair booth with an imbedded 9-grid iPad interface.  Now settled into his role as Dean, el-Khoury teaches his elective “Designing for the Internet of Things” as part of this endeavor.

    In the studio setting, Visiting Critic Vicente Guallart is instructing students the viability of Smart Cities.  Guallart has held positions as the director of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IaaC) and the Chief Architect of Barcelona, where he undertook the development of mixing technology into the city’s infrastructure.  Paired with Li Yi, a faculty member whose expertise is in urban planning and GIS, they are looking at one of Miami’s hottest neighborhoods as a case study: The Design District.  Students are collecting data from the area while trying to create design solutions for problems that effect Miami overall:  sea level rise, temperature control, traffic flow patterns, food sustainability, etc.

    Several public programs have also been geared toward a technology focus.  This past week, the School of Architecture hosted the Design Thinking Colloquium and Workshop.  The guest speakers included David Ruthven, an award-winning architect whose focus on the intersection of healthcare environments and technology has yielded many unique design solutions; mechanical engineer Erica Estrada-Liou who is the Director of Curriculum & Experiential Learning at the University of Maryland Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Kenneth Schwartz , FAIA, is the Dean of Tulane University School of Architecture and founding director of the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking which focuses on practical solutions to problems in a variety of areas.  The panel was headed by Dean el-Khoury; Dr. Steven Ullmann, the Director of the Center for Health Sector Management and Policy, Professor, Management and Economics, School of Business Administration, and Public Health Sciences, Miller School of Medicine; and Bill Lennertz Director of the National Charrette Institute.  Lennertz is also teaching an elective at the School of Architecture on design thinking strategies in settings that mimic design charrettes.  The colloquium’s focus was to introduce methods of collaboration and how to apply design based solution to problems encountered within our everyday lives.  Design thinking can be applied not just to architectural problems, but also in the fields of healthcare, business management, communication and education.   

    Other courses this fall also have a high technological and innovative focus:  There are classes on advanced automation in the design, engineering, fabrication and construction processes of the building industry using CATIA software, a visualization and data seminar open to architecture and non-architecture majors, a course focusing on open source electronic prototyping for medical solutions,  and  more courses are planned in the following semester focusing on digital fabrication and environmental systems analysis.  With its already strong ties to the community and commitment to building within the urban environment, this new shift to applied technologies will further diverse the School of Architecture at the University of Miami.  

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About this Blog

This blog gives a sneak peak into the architecture world at the University of Miami. What began as an experiment following one group of incoming graduate students through their first semester of design, has morphed into a window of the school of architecture through this professor's eyes. I will try to post as often as possible.

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