School of Architecture Studio Culture Policy

Architecture student in Foundation studio

Adopted by the School of Architecture Assembly on April 22, 2020.

Studio/Laboratory Culture

The faculty of the School of Architecture (SoA) is committed to fostering intellectual growth and a creative, collaborative and engaged studio/lab community. To that end, our studio/lab culture policy affirms the following principles of design education, which are intended to augment the University of Arizona Student Code of Academic Integrity.

Work Ethics

ENGAGEMENT: We value the enormous amount of learning that takes place in studio, not only between faculty and students, but among students. In order to facilitate collegial exchange and interaction, every studio participant should engage actively in the studio community with collaborative and active learning. Every member of the studio is encouraged to work in studio in order to learn from, and contribute to, peers, which will create a culture of student-driven learning and exploration. Students and faculty should treat each other with dignity and respect, which includes using class time productively.

FACILITIES: Work products, equipment, tools and supplies should be cared for with communal responsibility and individual accountability. Studios should be adequately equipped to encourage a creative and productive working environment, with students given access to facilities to explore projects and test ideas. Studios should be clean and organized, with housekeeping the obligation of all studio participants. SoA facilities should be equipped for recycling and reuse of materials. Lab and shop equipment, tools, time and materials are valuable resources that should be shared fairly among all studio participants. Shop policies should clearly spell out safety and use rules.

Intellectual Integrity

THE VALUE OF DIFFERENCE: We value the intellectual diversity of our faculty and students; we support diverse approaches to studio instruction. Each student should apply the collective knowledge of their past courses; they should work openly and collaboratively. The faculty should encourage intellectually diverse work. The goal of a design education is to develop a diversity of skills, from digital technologies to hand-drawing, model-making and building.

INTEGRITY: The personal, property and intellectual rights of every person in our community should be respected. All members of our community should conduct themselves by ethical principles and with respect for others. As building upon the work of others is an inevitable part of learning, a natural part of design and inherent to scholarship, students and faculty should be assiduous in citing the work of others, whether in appropriating graphics, quoting a text or building upon ideas, designs or forms. Citations should accompany all appropriated materials to give credit to the original author and to allow others to identify and trace source material.

CULTURAL STIMULATION: The school should recruit a diverse faculty, from varying disciplines and specializations, who should be expected to act in the best interests of students and treat them in a fair, respectful and consistent manner. Students should come to studio with the desire to learn from others and to assist others with their learning, creating a robust shared experience where an individual’s intellectual life is advanced by the community as a whole.

PURPOSEFUL PEDAGOGY: Faculty should work with students to understand pedagogical method and create meaningful requirements for deliverables. Policies on absences should be reasonable to the needs of the course and its credit units.

Theory and Practice

CRITICAL PRACTICE: We believe that critical practice expands the possibilities of our discipline. Students should frame studio work as a critical investigation, exploring the intersection of canonical architectural practice and individual hypotheses, interests and creative impulses. Students should collaborate with other majors and programs and import new theories and areas of investigation. Faculty members should teach students the foundational knowledge and professional conventions of the discipline while introducing students to, and encouraging them to explore, new theories, working methods and design processes.

SUSTAINABILITY: With global climate change threatening the world as we know it, and the construction and operation of the built environment accountable for over 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, the SoA must explore and teach advanced sustainability practices. The University of Arizona is a top-tier research university and its students and faculty are encouraged to engage in experimental and speculative thinking; to think anew.

Collaborative Design

COLLABORATION: We believe that collaboration synthesizes the highest contributions from the many and transcends the sum of individuals. Collaboration starts when participants put the interests of the group and the goals of a project ahead of their own. This requires individuals to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and ascertain how they can best contribute to the whole. Collaboration within the college is a crucial part of building community and creating well-rounded students and projects. The various disciplines in the college should be brought to bear on collaborative interdisciplinary projects. The faculty should model collegiality and collaboration.

TEAM RESPONSIBILITIES: A successful team distributes roles and responsibility based on individual strengths and agrees to work together towards shared goals. Projects require the resolution of many factors, all important if not equal. Individual contributions should be respected and colleagues supported. To effectively complete work in a timely manner, colleagues must fulfill their respective roles and responsibilities; they should be punctual, be conscious of and mitigate potential bias and engage each other in the higher interest of the group’s agreed-upon direction.

Constructive Criticism

We value critique as an inherent and integral part of design education.

STUDIOS: Design studios are places of exchange and studio projects offer common ground for open discussion and creative design exploration. All studio participants should exchange ideas, opinions and experiences in a collegial manner. Faculty should help students move beyond problems and develop new skills, rather than make them wrong.

INTERIM REVIEWS: Regular reviews in a variety of formats (formal, social media, open table, casual) should be staged throughout a project so students receive regular constructive feedback that assists in project development.

MENTORING: Reviews should also provide exchange between year levels; they should offer perspective and mentorship. Earlier year levels should attend subsequent years’ reviews; advanced students should mentor their younger peers.

JURIES: Faculty and invited reviewers should deliver criticism constructively. Open exploration of creative design should be at the forefront of any critique; education should be its purpose. Various modes and formats of project review should be deployed and present opportunities for students to improve their oral and visual presentation skills. They should also promote understanding and awareness that work can be interpreted from different, often unanticipated, perspectives. Faculty members should stage formal reviews in public settings, involving SoA colleagues as well as other members of the college, profession and outside community.

GRADING: In studios with multiple sections, grading should be consistent across sections and between faculty. Appropriate weight should be given to process, design content and presentation.

RESPECT: Students should treat the faculty and staff with respect. Whether in public or the privacy of student course surveys, students should address their critical assessment of course material and teaching performance with politeness and due regard for the faculty appointment.

Time Management

We believe that time management, health and good work habits are central to the success of a rewarding design education and career.

BALANCE: Students should be become well-rounded through involvement in campus and community life and are entitled to the appropriate balance of design studies with outside activities. Studio faculty should understand that students may have other academic obligations and responsibilities outside the university.

HEALTH: The productive practice of architecture is a marathon, not a sprint. Students should be taught to plan their work and work to their plan; they should be discouraged from working for extended periods without sleep. The school should foster a culture in which time management, exercise and nutrition are promoted. The amount of time expected for the completion of assignments should be consistent with credit units.

FINANCES: The school should explain to students how tuition and fees are expended and make a basic design education as affordable as possible. Faculty should understand the financial stress under which students pursue degrees and minimize required financial expenditures. Students should understand that working while in school compromises the depth and intensity of their education and do what they can to minimize non-academic distractions.

COMMITMENT: Students should expect that the creative acts of design and visual representation entail a commitment to time in the studio outside of regular classroom hours, an inherent part of studio culture and central to architectural education. Each student should be fully engaged during studio and prepared for desk critiques, pin-ups and reviews. Students should be required to attend, present and participate in all design reviews, being active participants in reviews of their peers. A student whose work is submitted late or incomplete should not assume the right to publicly present to external reviewers.

FACULTY ROLE: Faculty members should issue a proper syllabus with complete assignments, including clearly articulated evaluation procedures, a definitive schedule and learning objectives for both the course and each assignment. Evaluations of student work should be timely and conducted at regular intervals. During studio hours, faculty members should focus on the needs of the students and studio. To ensure a responsive climate at final reviews, submission deadlines should be given well in advance of the critique. Review sessions should respond to assignment criteria.

Maintenance of the Studio Culture Policy and Evaluation of its Implementation

To ensure the effectiveness and implementation of the Studio Culture Policy—as well as to create the opportunity to amend or change policies outlined therein—the School of Architecture’s Studio Culture Policy should undergo regular review by the faculty and students with changes adopted by the School Assembly.