School of Architecture Policy on Studio Culture

adopted by SoA students: 26 March 2012; adopted by SoA Faculty: 26 March 2012

The Studio Culture Policy is required for the accreditation of our professional programs and, more importantly, is a product and an expression of our school’s ethos of studio-centered architectural education. It is meant to foster a lively, rigorous, creative, and healthy environment for design studies.  In demonstration of collaboration and dialogue, the text you will find below has been co-drafted by students and faculty and adopted by the School Assembly.



The faculty of the School of Architecture is committed to the goals of fostering individual intellectual growth and a creative, collaborative and engaged studio/lab community. To that end, our studio/lab culture policy affirms several principles of design education described below. It is intended to augment the University's Code of Academic Integrity.

An enormous amount of learning takes place in studio between faculty and students, and among students. In order to facilitate collegial exchange and interaction, every studio participant should engage actively in the studio community. The studio must be adequately equipped to encourage a creative and productive working environment. Every member of the studio is encouraged to use it daily.

All studio participants are expected to respect the physical and intellectual property of their peers. Work products, equipment, tools and supplies should be cared for with communal responsibility and individual accountability. The housekeeping of studio space is the obligation of all studio participants.

Lab and shop equipment, tools, time and materials are valuable resources that must be shared fairly among all studio participants. Please refer to current shop policies for safety and use rules and regulations.

We value the intellectual diversity of our faculty and students and support diverse approaches to studio instruction. The personal and intellectual rights of every person in our community will be respected. All members of our community will conduct themselves by ethical principles and with regard for others. Faculty members are expected to act with the best interests of each student as his/her primary focus and to treat students in a fair, respectful, and consistent manner. Students are expected to come to studio with the desire to learn from others and to assist others with their learning needs, creating a robust shared experience where one’s intellectual life is advanced by the community as a whole.

Each student is asked to frame his/her studio design project as a critical investigation, exploring the intersection of canonical architectural practice and individual hypotheses, interests and creative impulses. Faculty members are expected to 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. 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.

The goal of collaboration is to synthesize the highest contributions from several people with the result transcending the sum of the parts. Collaboration starts when participants put the interests of the group and the goals of a project ahead of individual interests. This requires individuals to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and how they can best contribute to the whole.

A successful team distributes roles and responsibility based on individual strengths and agrees to work together towards a shared goal. No one role is more important than another and each individual shall support their fellow team member.

To effectively complete work in a timely manner everyone must adhere to their respective roles and responsibilities. In working as part of a team it is vital to be punctual. It is also critical to put biases aside and engage discussion in the interest of following the team’s course once a direction has been agreed upon.

Critique is an inherent and integral part of the evaluation process in design education. Faculty and invited reviewers are encouraged to deliver criticism constructively when engaging students and others in the review of studio work. Design studios are inherently places of exchange, and studio projects are common ground for open discussion and creative design exploration. All studio participants are encouraged to exchange ideas, opinions, and experiences in a collegial manner.

Design reviews are a fundamental component of the assessment of student work. Design reviews provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate and improve upon their oral and visual presentation skills. They also provide students with an opportunity to understand how their work can be interpreted from different, often unanticipated, perspectives. Faculty members are required to stage formal reviews in public settings and to involve members of the academic faculty as well as other members of the College, profession and outside community.

Time management is central to the success of a rewarding design education and career. Students are entitled to an appropriate balance between design studio and other aspects of university life. Studio faculty will understand and be sensitive to the reality that most students have other academic obligations and, in many instances, demanding responsibilities apart from the university. The amount of time that is reasonably necessary for the successful completion of assignments and achieving the learning objectives is to be consistent with the credit hours for the studio course.

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. This is an inherent part of studio culture and its central role in architectural education. Each student will be fully engaged in the task at hand or topic discussed during studio class hours and will be adequately prepared for desk critiques, pin-­‐ups and reviews. Students are required to attend, present, and participate in all design reviews organized by their instructors. Students should be active participants in reviews of their peers.

Faculty members will demonstrate clarity of purpose for each studio by issuing a proper syllabus with studio assignments, as well as clearly articulated evaluation procedures, a definitive schedule and specific learning objectives for the course and for each assignment. Evaluations of student work will be provided at established benchmarks during the semester. During studio hours, faculty members will devote his/her focus to the needs of the students and studio. To ensure a responsive climate at final reviews, submission deadlines will be given well in advance of the time for the critique session. Review sessions will be structured to respond to the assignment criteria. A student whose work is submitted late or is incomplete will not assume the right to publicly present his/her work to external reviewers.

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 will undergo review every two years based on participation by all of the faculty and student, and incorporated into the written policy by the Faculty Status Committee with student representatives from each year and discipline.