Heading titleDesign Studios + Thesis (DS)

DS1010

The first studio of the foundation sequence introduces students to different means of working abstractly and spatially through a series of carefully calibrated exercises, focusing on formal ordering systems and geometric manipulations.

Throughout the semester, students are offered a range of tools, skills, and conceptual schemes for working and developing ideas. The exercises comprise a catalogue of formal and spatial geometric investigations. The primary aim of these exercises is to explore the critical relationship between mass and interiority. Investigating various techniques of transformations, students follow a controlled process of articulating mass and its interior as they are introduced to various representational mediums, alternating between digital modeling, orthographic drawing, physical models and photography.

DS1011

Building from the tools and techniques of formal thinking developed in the first semester, this course introduces students to an expanded vocabulary of architectural fundamentals.

Notions of scale and order are considered as students work through formal investigations of mass and interiority. The course is structured as a series of sequential projects beginning with a formal precedent analysis that serves to structure an understanding of order and eccentricity in both plan and section. Following the precedent analysis, students move through a series of exercises focusing on techniques of translating two-dimensional information into three-dimensional form. The formal investigations culminate in the design of a small institutional building. Emphasis is placed on developing an analytical process for design, and the ability to express this graphically and verbally. In addition to the conceptual and formal emphasis of the studio, students are introduced to broader professional issues of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

DS1020

Building on the rigorous geometric and formal studies of the first year, the 2A studio serves as an introduction to buildings as material artifacts, on specific sites, that are organized by diagrams or partis that address form, program, and site in ways that are both coherent and speculative.

The studio begins with a precedent exercise analyzing salient building diagrams of the modern and contemporary periods, introducing students to the conceptual basis of formal, structural, and programmatic ordering systems (Mass/Interiority), and building to site relationships (Ground/Aperture). In developing the building project, students are introduced to site design, accessibility requirements, solar orientation and shading, and consideration of the diverse needs and interests of project stakeholders and users.

DS1021

The 2B studio follows the lessons of previous semesters by designing material form (Mass/Interiority) in close relationship to techniques of drawing and modeling.

This studio expands from building massing models to constructing materially-specific models that emphasize building systems. This shift addresses material constraints—such as size and thickness, structure, and finish—which, in turn, produce interesting limits and problems of translation between digital and physical media. The project of the studio is located on an urban site that allows for a close study of circulation and entry sequence on both interior and exterior (Ground/Aperture), and addresses the design of public space, traffic flow, and site accessibility. The 2B studio is a precursor to the third year, which enlarges the specificity of the models to include structural, mechanical, and environmental systems.

2B Portfolio Workshop

The Portfolio Workshop facilitates the production of the mandatory gateway portfolio. It will introduce and reinforce the fundamental concepts and techniques essential to the design of a contemporary architectural portfolio of student work. It is meant to help establish within each student an awareness of the role of the portfolio in their own development and the essential nature of portfolio culture within the school and the discipline. This course is conceived as part of the design studio and will be structured, treated and graded as such.

The Portfolio Workshop facilitates the production of the mandatory gateway portfolio.

The Portfolio Workshop facilitates the production of the mandatory gateway portfolio. It will introduce and reinforce the fundamental concepts and techniques essential to the design of a contemporary architectural portfolio of student work. It is meant to help establish within each student an awareness of the role of the portfolio in their own development and the essential nature of portfolio culture within the school and the discipline. This course is conceived as part of the design studio and will be structured, treated and graded as such. 

DS1030

Moving from the conceptual and the abstract to the physical realities of building, the work of the fifth studio of the six-semester core sequence aims to productively embrace novelties and differences in the production of vertical organizations.

Students consider the uses of precedent and antecedent in their work, while the main investigation examines the particular impact of the building envelope and its material and geometrical determinations on site. The design work focuses on a tall building form and the capacity to use transformation as a methodological tool to guide a rigorous approach to decision making. By studying the specificities of the tall building envelope, students are exposed to the tight dependency existing between serial determinations of: the geometric and material order of the outermost surface and the spaces it encloses, including the building’s core and structure; construction technologies and its tectonic and environmental implications; and its iconographic performance in today’s metropolis.

DS1031

The 3B Studio introduces students to the comprehensive design and development of a large scale, institutional building on an urban site.

Advancing on the pedagogy established in previous studios (AMIGAA: Mass, Interiority, Ground, Aperture and Articulation), this studio focuses on the design, development, and tectonic logic of the building envelope and its ability to articulate contemporary formal organizations. Assemblage versus monolithic form, surface versus mass, iconicity and image, the intentional obscuring of hierarchical mass, layered, and graphic assemblies, tectonics and materiality, constitute a range of concerns in the design work. Beyond design competence, students are expected to articulate and argue for conceptual and disciplinary positions in relation to issues of AMIGAA in anticipation of more advanced work in vertical and thesis studios.

DS1040

The final studio in the core sequence introduces students to independent thinking and integrative design through a model-based project.

With one foot in core and one pointed towards thesis, the pedagogy is based on culminating all previous core studios by charging the students with taking a disciplinary position on the role of Mass, Interiority, Ground, Aperture, or surface Articulation (AMIGAA), or possibly relations across all five. The studio, as a whole, works on the same project and site with different trajectories according to the framework laid out by each instructor. This provides a platform for students to see how the same problem can be seen through different lenses, from the conceptual to the phenomenological. Precedent research is used as a vehicle for understanding their latent diagrams in relation to AMIGAA as well as cultivating a genealogical ethos in order to model thesis pedagogy directly to the students.

Students work with Visiting Professors or select SCI-Arc faculty on specific topics in architecture, intended to expose them to a greater variety of positions within the discipline.

Students work with Visiting Professors or select SCI-Arc faculty on specific topics in architecture, intended to expose them to a greater variety of positions within the discipline. Projects produced reflect different approaches to form, technique, material, history, politics, the environment, and are intended to contribute real-time to contemporary discourse. Vertical Studios are chosen by students according to a lottery system.

DS1051

The SCI-Arc Undergraduate Thesis is the culmination of the five year B.Arch curriculum. 

A focused thesis project for a highly resolved building design, both conceptually and technically, manifests the cumulative knowledge students have acquired throughout their education and acts as a point of trajectory from which to engage the discipline, field and profession at large. A focus is placed on presenting and defending positions and contributing to contemporary discourse through a project that advances the highest degree possible of design and technical expertise coupled with critical thinking. Students are expected to develop a critical and rigorous approach to architecture and to explore the forefront of the discipline, leading the conversation in terms of aesthetic agendas, architecture’s contemporary and future societal role, and the impact of theoretical and technological innovation on architecture’s design and communicative repertoire.

Heading titleLiberal Arts (LA)

LA8010

Design Cultures is intended to survey the field of design as a human activity and to introduce students to the immense variety of pathways available to students as they move ahead in the world as a designer and as an architect.

The aims of the class are to expose students to a broad range of design work in the fields of furniture, architecture, interior space, set design, exhibition design, product design, and landscape; to give them a broad historical background of design activity, aesthetic epochs, and styles; and to develop in them the eye and senses of the curious and critical observer of the products of design culture. 

LA8011

Forms of Writing is designed to teach writing and composition skills at a collegiate level. 

Different approaches to writing are explored through the reading and composing of literary analysis, persuasive essay, memoir, critical review, and a short research paper. Critical study includes the analysis of poetics, modes of writing organization, academic writing, literary style, the short story, and research strategies. Special attention is paid to close textual reading and analysis, peer review and editing. Through the use of rhetorical analysis students become versed in a variety of writing modes.  Throughout the course of the semester, attention is paid to sentence style and variety. Guidelines for the correct attribution and citation of primary and secondary sources when performing research are explained and reviewed. Pre-writing exercises help students to generate writing material, both creative and rhetorical. Captions and other editorial techniques are reviewed with an emphasis on clarity and coherence.

LA8012

This course is meant to serve as an introduction to the history of film, its aesthetics, mechanics, languages and genres. 

By analyzing the expressive techniques, forms, and styles of a variety of films, students will assess the ways in which films produce meaning and the status of that meaning in the broader political, cultural, and aesthetic sphere. To best illustrate the changes and maturation of film practices over time, the course will begin with the beginnings of the Cinema itself as the 19th century soon turned into the 20th, focusing each week on a different decade.       

LA8013

This course examines the history of the physical sciences and their role in reshaping the intellectual cosmology of the west and advancing the exercise of political and economic power by Europe and North America.

The physical sciences, and the technologies with which they co-evolved, have been instrumental in creating the modern understanding of the universe around us, yet they have also played an active role in shaping that universe. Students will investigate the paradoxical dual role of physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, and climatology as both interpreters of a pristine natural world beyond the pettiness of human conflict, and as active constructors of that world through the mechanisms of technology and ideology. The shifting allegiances between the physical sciences and the major political and religious power structures of early modern and modern European and American history will be a persistent theme. 

LA8014

Art History I surveys the visual arts from antiquity to the Renaissance to modern art during the interwar period in the 20th century. 

Artistic styles, art movements, and methods of art production will be contextualized within larger societal, intellectual, and ideological shifts.  Students will learn to conduct formal analysis of individual works of art as well as critically engage with key primary and secondary art historical texts through short writing assignments and rigorous in-class discussions.

LA8015

This course charts the genesis of modern biology from a range of intellectual, social, and political factors.

At its core, we will explore how laboratory physiology, natural history, and demography coalesced into a single scientific discipline through the Darwinian Revolution of the mid-nineteenth century and the Modern Synthesis of the mid-twentieth, and how that discipline rose to dominate universities and the medical-industrial complex following the emergence of molecular genetics between 1953-83. Along the way, the ideological function of biology in areas such as "scientific" racism, eugenics, population control, neoliberal economics, and ecological politics will be investigated. Students will be asked to respond to various theories of nature from contemporary thinkers, and to use material and life sciences as evidence for the development and refinement of these theories and claims.

LA8016

Art History II focuses on the field of contemporary art from 1945 to the present and the artistic and theoretical debates that have structured this discourse.

Beginning with Abstract Expressionism in the postwar period, the course explores the rise of experimental, post-studio artistic practices such as Conceptual art, installation art, performance art, relational aesthetics, new media forms, in addition to the resurgence of painting and sculpture since the art market boom of the 1980s. Issues in contemporary art including questions of authorship, feminism, post-colonialism, and the ethics of spectatorship will be addressed.

LA8017

This course introduces students to foundational issues initiating the Western philosophical tradition, which include: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy. 

Moving from the ancient Greek texts of Plato and Aristotle, the course will survey thinkers from the medieval and early modern philosophical tradition, including Aquinas, Descartes, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, and Hume. Readings will concern: the nature of the good; the just; the ideal political form; the limits and possibilities of knowledge; virtue; the nature and existence of God; free will; primary and secondary qualities; substance; essence; causality; principles of identity.

LA8019

This course explores the vital and complex intersections between the arts of film and architecture – from the representation of architects in film to the role of architecture in film and of course the architectural qualities of film itself.

This course explores the vital and complex intersections between the arts of film and architecture – from the representation of architects in film to the role of architecture in film and of course the architectural qualities of film itself. Much of the class will focus on films strongly invested in architecture, exploring the relationship between directors, art directors and production designers in the construction of cinematic architecture. Students will be asked to consider the unique architecture of several of the classic Hollywood film studios themselves, as well as the work of architects and designers who have worked in and with film, and have embedded their architecture and design practice in various cultures of the moving image. By the end of the course students will a have a new perspective on the impact that films have had on the practice of architecture and the way we experience our built environments.

LA8018

An introduction to continental philosophy by tracing the challenge and critique of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment through competing notions of history, time, and critique.

Beginning with Kant’s “critical philosophy” and its reception through the 20th century, this course offers an introduction to continental philosophy by tracing the challenge and critique of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment through competing notions of history, time, and critique. To provide an endcap to the philosophy sequence, the course includes an immersive engagement with a singular contemporary philosophical text. Students are required to conduct close reading, vigorous analysis, and supplementary research to support argumentation and debate in classroom seminars on the text in question. The text is chosen annually and is held in common throughout the school. Possible readings include: Bataille, Ortega y Gassett, Barthes, Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Arendt, Adorno, Irigaray, Benjamin, and Heidegger. 

LA8022

This course precedes Thesis in order to connect studio work and architecture with real-time, relevant issues in the world.  

Issues of technology, geopolitics, the environment, current events and media will be underscored by an emerging sensibility of a post-human/anthropocene in the contemporary era. This course is an advanced seminar led by an expert discourse leader w with engaged discussion and graduate-level writing required for all students.  

LA8023

This course examines contemporary debates emerging in the wake of critical theory and continental philosophy.

Topics include: aesthetics; radical democracy; speculative realism; utopian theory; geo-politics; discourse ethics; post-modernism; gender theory; and identity. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of positions in relation to Thesis work. Live conversation is the primary vehicle of this class.

Heading titleHistory + Theory of Architecture (HT)

HT2101

This course provides a chronological review of major movements in global architecture and urbanism from pre-history to the 16th century. 

Students will analyze major movements and key works in order to understand the cultural, religious, anthropological, and sociological factors involved in the design of buildings and cities throughout the world. Particular attention will be paid to the analysis of specific relationships between the organization, configuration, and articulation of buildings and cities as well as the historical, conceptual, and political contexts with which they are associated. 

HT2120

This course provides a chronological review of major movements in global architecture and urbanism from the 16th to the 20th century.

Students will analyze major movements and key works in order to understand the cultural, religious, anthropological, and sociological factors involved in the design of buildings and cities throughout the world. Particular attention will be paid to the analysis of specific relationships between the organization, configuration, and articulation of buildings and cities as well as the historical, conceptual, and political contexts with which they are associated.

HT2121

This course provides a chronological review of major movements in global architecture and urbanism from the 20th century to the present. 

Students will analyze major movements and key works in order to understand the cultural, religious, anthropological, and sociological factors involved in the design of buildings and cities throughout the world. Particular attention will be paid to the analysis of specific relationships between the organization, configuration, and articulation of buildings and cities as well as the historical, conceptual, and political contexts with which they are associated.

HT2035

This course offers an introduction to contemporary debates and discourse in architecture.

It surveys practices and firms of the recent era, as well as examines key texts associated with the formation of the architectural contemporary. Students will be introduced to topical subjects, such as figures, objects, effects, sensations, color – and asked to reflect on these topics as engaged in debate. This course emphasizes reading and debate.

HT2050

During the Thesis Project Research semester, students are introduced to research methods in advance of the Thesis Studio.

The seminar provides a structured environment for students to articulate architectural research programs embedded in both the discipline and the contemporary situation in architecture. Students draw upon work from previous studios and identify new trajectories supporting individual inquiry.

Heading titleApplied Studies (AS)

AS3020

This course is intended as an introduction to environmental systems in architecture. 

Beginning with an understanding of basic thermodynamics and climatic conditions, the course will use architectural precedents to examine the fundamental issues of passive energy systems as they apply to architectural production and performance. Students will learn the physics of the building environment, basic environmental conditions and human comfort. Particular attention will be paid to issues of sustainability. Design strategies that leverage careful site analysis in order to inform building location, orientation, massing and geometry will be thoroughly discussed. Significant historical, cultural, theoretical, and technological developments in environmental engineering will also be discussed. Finally, contemporary simulation technologies will be introduced as a tool for design and the application of concepts covered in the course.

AS3021

This course introduces students to statics and mechanics of materials. 

These subjects provide a basis for understanding how a structure supports itself and its occupants. Students will also explore strength of materials, i.e. how materials fail. Students will become familiar with analytical methods for finding equilibrium of forces, evaluating material stress and strain, and determining the conditions of stability. Significant historical, cultural, theoretical, and technological developments in structures will also be discussed.

AS3030

This course provides students with a basic understanding of the engineering principles governing gravity, framing systems and lateral load resistance within buildings. 

By first examining the underlying mechanics of these systems and later reviewing real world examples, this course sheds light on the creative application of these principles. The concept of structural loads – both gravity and lateral loading – will be defined both in the context of physical phenomena and according to Building Code requirements. This course will also include an introduction and precedent comparison of various structural theories across the history of architectural discourse, including debates concerning structural representation and expression or obfuscation, performance, systems convergences and divergence, and the complex relation between architecture and engineering. 

AS3031

This course focuses on advanced building systems and technologies with a special emphasis on environmental systems, sustainability, performative architecture, and integration of building systems.

The content includes generative and active building environmental systems and design strategies and their integration and optimization with the building site, orientation, and envelope/façade, in relationship to renewable natural resources and occupant needs. The seminar also covers building systems and services such as plumbing, electrical, fire protection, vertical transportation, security and building management systems; focusing on architectural considerations and overall systems integration. Through a series of lectures, software tutorials, assignments, student presentations, quizzes and exams, advanced systems, design strategies and architectural precedents will be explored and critically analyzed using various qualitative and quantitative techniques including benchmarks/rule-of-thumbs, prescriptive (building codes and standards), and dynamic building performance simulations. This course will also include an introduction to various environmental systems theories and a study of these ideas through precedent analysis.  

AS3033

This course focuses on tectonics (predominantly building envelopes) and performance (largely consisting of technical, technological, cultural, and environmental dimensions). 

Working in groups throughout the semester, students analyze and document a precedent in order to formulate a series of hypotheses in an attempt to construct a number of interrelated tectonic conjectures. In scrutinizing building assemblies, the class will attempt to position construction analysis so as to produce both technical knowledge and critical awareness of embedded cultural habits. The class will thus seek out an alternative understanding of the tectonics, one that not only mirrors the realm of construction – materials, methods, sequences, tolerances, etc. – but also embraces architectural processes of expression, encompassing issues of geometry and technique; posture and character.

AS3040

The course investigates issues related to the implementation of design: technology, the use of materials, systems integration, and the archetypal analytical strategies of force, order and character. 

The course includes a review of basic and advanced construction methods, analysis of building codes, the design of structural and mechanical systems, environmental systems, buildings service systems, the development of building materials and the integration of building components and systems. The intent of this course is to develop a cohesive understanding of how architects communicate complex building systems for the built environment and to demonstrate the ability to document a comprehensive architectural project and stewardship of the environment. This course is taught in conjunction with the 3B “comprehensive design studio”.   

AS3050

The course aims to equip students with the knowledge, skill and judgment needed to fit an architect for his/her professional duties, and to understand how an office organization and a design project are managed for this purpose. 

Architecture is a comprehensive field of practice existing within dynamic, social, organizational, economic, professional and cognitive contexts. This course focuses on the organizational and managerial issues to carry an architectural design from concept to implementation. It explores principles and concepts essential to managing projects applied to a variety of design and project delivery cases. Each class contains a case study that describes the real experience of practicing architects and project teams. Cases focus on specialized practice; the role of the architect in new forms of project delivery; resolving design conflicts between the community, project team and the client; collaboration; making contractors perform; working in another country; the use of new technology in design and management.  This course will also give an introduction to the following professional guidelines and organizations: APA, ARE, IDP, NCARB, CAB, and the AIA.

Heading titleVisual Studies (VS)

VS4011

Visual Studies I introduces the mechanics and principals of two and three-dimensional geometry, both as descriptive and transformative operations. 

It introduces basic tools and operations in two and three-dimensional software and places all these operations within the context of the role of drawing in the culture of architecture. The exercises move from general geometric transformations to the precise translation of them into models and orthographic views thereby placing them within the conventions of plan, elevation, section, and other architectural projections. As with other required Visual Studies courses, there is some coordination with the topics and needs of the concurrent design studio. However, it is also considered to be an independent sequence with its own logic and progression from course to course. Lectures, tutorials and readings cover both technical drawing questions and provide an introduction to important drawings in architecture and art.

VS4020

Visual Studies II expands on the tools and techniques introduced in Visual Studies I and introduces new software and a more expanded consideration of studio technique beyond the conventions of drawing. 

Advanced solid modeling in Rhino and an introduction to polygon modeling in Maya also serves to introduce students to a wider range of non-classical, spline based geometries and their transformations. Where Visual Studies I introduces the legacy of drawing within the culture of architecture, this course - through lectures, tutorials, and readings - reviews the status of drawings and the move to other, less conventional creative outputs. 

VS4021

Visual Studies III culminates the technical sequence of required Visual Studies courses. 

The course introduces scripting-based tools (currently, Grasshopper for Rhino) as well as advanced rendering and animation tools. As the need for, and definition of, advanced tools changes rapidly, the exact composition of the tools and techniques covered will evolve from year to year. In every case, it will include a rigorous introduction to scripting (a pre-modeling tool) and a set of post-modeling tools for the advanced representation of projects. Lectures and readings will place these representational tools into the contemporary discourse on the status of representation and abstraction in architecture.