Teaching Facades

One Goal, Three Approaches to Facade Design Curriculum

Overview

Authors

Photo of Alex Terzich

Alex Terzich

Senior Associate

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

aterzich@hga.com


Keywords


Abstract

As facades become more sophisticated and complex, more detail-intensive and performance-critical, it's vital that architecture students develop a deeper understanding of facade design and begin to see it as a distinct specialization that is emerging within the profession. There is no single or standard way to prepare students for the role of facade specialist, and the nature of that professional role can vary widely. Three different approaches to teaching facades are highlighted and analyzed. Though the formats vary, each has the same goal of imparting a strong technical foundation that informs and advances the aesthetic direction of the design: an expert consulting role for a studio taught by others, a stand-alone studio, and a seminar. The courses are situated within a long view of facade technology that traces the evolution from traditional load bearing exterior walls to modern curtain walls and beyond. A recurring theme in each approach is the challenge and opportunity presented by design and documentation software in contemporary practice.

These courses have been taught at the undergraduate and graduate level at the University of Minnesota, Pratt Institute and New York Institute of Technology, and are shaped by a professional background as a facade consultant and a facade specialist within two architecture offices. As such, they provide a window into the broader questions of how architectural professionals can effectively contribute to academic curriculum, and how architectural education can address the challenges of ever increasing technical complexity and specialization.

Introduction

Design studios are currently the core component of architectural education in American universities, absorbing the majority or a student’s time, energy and attention. The studios are typically complemented by a

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Method

What follows is a view from within the industry and academia, the double vantage points of a professional façade expert who is also an adjunct professor. For 10 years Alex

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Explanation

There is no single or standard way to prepare students for the role of facade specialist, in part because the nature of that professional role can vary widely. Three different

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Conclusion and Future Work

Façade expertise is a complex body of knowledge that ideally bonds technical knowledge with design sensibility. A student coming out of architecture school equipped with strong design and computational skills

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