02 March 2011

LiveBlog: Tim Baird

Teaching Design Education in the 21st Century
C. Timothy Baird, Penn State University

An LSU graduate - Geaux Tigers!

Change is hard.  Leroys and vertical curves are no longer part of most technology sequences.

He begins with the origins of the abstract concept of the contour.  Building on his experiences at Hargreaves, he has a strong interest in building clay models and has integrated that into the sequence instead of stacked contours.

One of the new classes is Materiality.  Hard materials.  Trying to simplify the way to look at things, makes the start easier.  Part of the class is research-driven, just like some design practices.  For a while there weren't many landscape architects looking for new materials.  But the proliferation of catalogs, an increase in new building techniques and even the Internet, have combined to give designers access to far more material choices that seemed imaginable.  But it also places a new level of responsibility on designers to understand these new materials before they use them.  Photocatalytic concrete and translucent concrete are examples of changing materials.

Systems Workshops are another part of the new sequence.  The class takes a trip to NYC where they visit  Material ConneXion.  Eventually they move on to drawings, which force a clearer cognition and representation of how the materials come together.  They go out and learn a little bit about welding at the art shop (just enough to understand how hard it is). 

Materials Operations - Cut it, bend it, perforate it, join it, shape it.  They use an aluminum shop that allows them some special opportunities for exploring technology.  But while the new tools, like water jet cutters, are cool they aren't a substitute for learning how to use a hammer.

Ultimately the students get out on construction sites to see the work being done.  It makes concrete pours and geotextiles seem much less abstract.  Visiting a site under construction with Ken Smith is just icing.  The students learn from that and then explore the design of new seating walls which ultimately get built.

Application - if you learn about grading in 2nd year and then don't make a grading plan until 4th year, is it a disservice?   If you can intergrate the ideas into a design competition does it help test them out?
Vanalen Institute's Urban Voids Design Competition

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