Wednesday, June 15, 2011


At every school of architecture, students are offered an ultimate test, an opportunity to show that they have assimilated the teachings of their faculty, synthesized the curricula, and are able to produce a competent architectural project. At the UA School of Architecture, the opportunity for a student to demonstrate worthiness to become an Architect is the Capstone: the final project in the five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree. Over two semesters, students are asked to envision an issue, take a stand, and figure out how design can make a difference.

In the capstone review, each student makes a presentation of his/her project for review by UA School of Architecture professors, industry professionals, and members of the local community associated with the projects.

Nathan Hyman, a second-year student in the five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree program took on the design of a Montessori elementary school for his second-year project.

UA COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: What is the experience like of preparing for and going through a capstone review?

NATHAN HYMAN: Up to the presentation phase in the program, it's about getting an A. Now it's to see what we can do, playing with the space, applying different materials to the forms. It's sort of a game, we're learning about what materials to use and what fits.

UACALA: How would you describe working with other students in the program?

NH: I love working with my classmates because we're all helping each other. It's not a competition. You're looking at each student's project in studio and it's very helpful because there's a lot of back and forth where you learn something new. Each of us has separate and distinct interests, which we look into. It's like we're each a different database and you got to pull bits and pieces from each one.

UACALA: What do you get out of that process?

NH: Well, as we're playing with the space and applying materials to the forms, we're looking at them critically—adobe brick versus cement walls, or how you want to transition from one material to another. You learn from each material and you pick which one you think will work best. You begin to see how things sort of want to work with each other. Its important how things work with each other.

UACALA: How did you identify what you're interested in and finally settle on for your project?

NH: A lot of that happens in my classes—Structures class, Energy and Conservation Systems, Building Technologies. I was interested in adobe. I did a project on its history and current use, and decided to apply my new knowledge to my final projects. This is sort of when you get to pick information from each other and offer that to other students who are interested in that material.

UACALA: How did you end up choosing the University of Arizona for your bachelor's degree program in architecture?

NH: Not all architecture schools are like our school here at UA. I planned to attend a school in Los Angeles but opted for UA when I found out that students overly compete and don't cooperate with each other there. Here we're working together and collaborating in a way that is more like what's happening out there professionally.