My past and recent projects investigate the convergence of people and city where there is an expansive realm of existing and yet-to-be imagined spaces. This realm is where I seek to further an understanding of the spatial composition that creates place, supports use and produces beauty.
The task of the spatial designer is to make place. Likewise, the design student is expected to learn the difference between mere space and place through analysis, experimentation, empathy and criticism. Place is structured yet dynamic, intentional yet flexible, and facilitates human occupation in a legible relationship with the natural world and culture. A designer’s understanding of human inhabitation is to develop beyond accommodation of physical function and into considerations of full intellectual, emotional, cultural and physical experiences.
The design profession has been marginalized; narrowed by concerns for maximum efficiency instead of quality of life. The job before us is to elevate cultural satisfaction through the creation of high-quality place.
Designers must have an understanding of sheltered environments, the constructed natural landscape and the natural environment as a network of systems. Through critical thinking, representation and experimentation design students will learn to manage this network into a cohesive whole and that is technologically accessible.
The design student is guided toward knowing their core vocational desire which motivates hard work and discovery. It is more than self-discovery however; the teacher is also to guide through demonstration and by modeling critical thinking.
The most delightful experience of design teaching is directing the design studio. It is a physical, intellectual and emotional place for an intersection of ideas and active making. I strive to manage a dynamic physical and intellectual space that is at once reverent and comfortable, where the joy and pain of learning are acknowledged. The studio itself is a model for the formation of quality public space in its requirement for legibility and empathy.
The design studio can draw upon capitalistic propensities that encourage motivation and individuality. But I have observed extra benefits to studio education (and perhaps a new capitalism) that reach beyond individual development. The studio also has the power to focus objectives, merge diversity, and celebrate the shared ownership of ideas.
College students are at a stage of intellectual development that allows them to think critically and hold divergent ideas side-by-side. The design professions require this capacity in a combined verbal and visual realm. Learning and creative problem solving are not magical or mysterious; instead methodologies are co-opted, practiced, and shared by the designer. The designer’s verbal and visual methodologies are learnable.
The best designers are known for rigorous inquiry and an iterative work process and hence they easily adapt to change. This adaptive posture must be rooted in the education to ultimately help the design student become a design leader.