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Curriculum

Evolving from Frank Lloyd Wright’s precepts of organic architecture, our design process unfolds out of existing cultural and physical conditions, materials, and landscapes into well-crafted frameworks for human activities.

The Master’s curriculum encourages students to explore beyond perceived boundaries rather than relying solely on abstraction or being limited by preconceptions. The School integrates theory and practice. It uses a workshop model in which design and construction for communities is a central focus.

The M.Arch degree relies on the Design Studio as the core of the curriculum. Studios are taken every semester and are structured to explore a variety of facets of the architectural discipline. Students are typically enrolled in three progressive studios, an experimental studio, and an integrated studio. Finally, student work culminates in the preparation and presentation of a comprehensive thesis project centered on the design, construction, and inhabitation of a student shelter.

To expand knowledge and understanding of architecture, design studios are accompanied by core classes that focus on specific and required knowledge and skills. Core classes range from architectural history and theory to building codes and practice management. In addition to core classes, electives are offered to explore a variety of contemporary issues and/or related topics and disciplines that included allied arts such as music, literature, theater, and performance.

Alongside the academic curriculum, participation in professional internships, “real world” design charettes (intensive periods of work) and collaborations with other schools and institutions help to translate skills and experiences into successful practice, as does the undertaking of community design /build projects, both on and off campus, collectively designed by students, faculty, and staff.

The School’s curriculum supports applied project-based design and research. Innovation in architecture is explored through experimentation of materials and processes related to a project, through the lens of the social and cultural context of that project.

 

The School recognizes that we live in a world to which architecture must contribute in a thoughtful and free manner. Our curriculum pushes students to explore beyond current boundaries by using concrete forms, images, and materials, rather than relying solely on abstraction or being limited by preconceptions. As a result, the School integrates theory, design, and construction to make communities better places to live, work, and play.

Our curriculum honors diversity in all its aspects. We respect the many sources for design and work to provide a context in which communities can make room for all their members, as well as for each other. Within an accredited Master of Architecture degree framework, and with the design studio as the core of the curriculum, the School relies on the following:

  • We learn from the legacy of Taliesin and Taliesin West as instructive environments for the experience and learning of architecture, including active exploration of the implications and uses of Frank Lloyd Wright’s body of work and thought.
  • Our students inhabit, design, and construct shelters; we also undertake community design/build projects, both on and off campus, collectively designed by students, faculty, and staff. We learn by doing.
  • We make art, photography, music, and performance an integral part of the classroom and community experience, both in our work and by bringing in artists from diverse contexts.
  • We study ways in which architecture can minimize its impact on the availability of natural resources. We believe that architecture should evidence itself through structures that throughout their life cycle minimize the expenditure of an impact on natural resources.
  • We draw on architectural precedents, case studies, and historical examples from cultures around the world.
  • Students participate in both internships and in external collaborations with other schools and institutions.

We provide a curriculum and environment that provides students with both ideas and tools so that they can become human beings of integrity and vision.

  • Year One Course Requirements

    Fall Term

    • Studio 1

      ARC-501 | 6 Credits | WI/AZ

      Studio 1 explores the relationship of the individual, the self, and the home as a point of departure for understanding architecture with an aim to provide a firm foundation upon which the further study of architecture may be undertaken. The studio introduces students to the basic concepts of architecture and design through lectures, discussions, workshops, studio work, presentations, and field trips. Examples of studio themes and focus might be: architectural follies, the contemporary residence, or a small transit stop. The purpose of this studio is to become familiar with the basic elements of architecture, develop an initial understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design principles, and to inculcate working methods and beginning-level skills.

    • Architectural History 1

      ARC-511 | 2 Credits | WI/AZ

      Knowing one’s discipline requires familiarity with what previous architects have achieved. This basic literacy in architectural history is also linked with design by recognizing that history starts with the building and works back to the commission while design starts with the commission and concludes with the building. This introductory course will examine the topic from Ancient times up to the 18th century.

    • Structures 1

      ARC-521 | 3 Credits | WI/AZ

      Students will learn to efficiently organize, coordinate and communicate information in order to convey data necessary for structural design. Incorporated is an applied research project and field sketches related to structural design and detailing. Students will gain exposure to the essence of structural design.

    • Communicate Design 1

      ARC-531 | 2 Credits | WI/AZ

      Students will explore visual representation of design in areas such as: manual drawing and drafting, hand rendering, perspective drawing, graphic design and layout, and 3-d modeling and fabrication. They will discover the importance of each technique as it relates to one’s architectural intentions.

    • Landscape Architecture Workshop

      ARC-541 | 2 Credits | AZ

      The goal is to instill a new, or renewed, love, respect and appreciation for landscapes and gardens and their celebration of nature through integration with architecture. The objective is to make you a better architect by broadening your understanding of the profession through an exploration of landscape architecture and site planning.

    • Taliesin as Text

      ARC-581 | 1 Credits | WI

      The goal of Taliesin as Text is to get to know Taliesin (the whole Estate) as a site of design, first through disciplined observation, and second through its history. The exercise is to “read” a building and report on your “reading” through observations in words and sketches. We will share our observations to show how “looking” has a common object, but can have different subjects. Getting to know Taliesin will include knowing what preceded what you see now, i.e., the history of the design and construction stages.

    Spring Term

    • Studio 2

      ARC-502 | 6 Credits | AZ

      Studio 2 grows out of the prototypical home to explore the conception and design of additional architectural spaces. Through the employ of rigorous architectural research, students explore architecture via the design of multi-family dwellings, community design/building, commercial buildings (offices, retail, etc.), assembly and worship spaces, urban design issues, and landscape. The focus of the studio is on the relationship between architecture and the surrounding environment/context. The studio serves to develop a student’s ability to elaborate on basic skills in a more complex spatial composition.

    • Architectural History 2

      ARC-512 | 2 Credits | AZ

      How did we build the modern world? Picking up where History of Architecture 1 left off, this course will tell the story of the development of architecture since the 18th century. It will trace the emergence not only of new technologies, materials, and building types, but also of the modern definition of the discipline and its makers. The course will follow the establishment of the profession under Louis XIV, the course and influence of the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of a new global culture, and the rise of the middle class as the principal actors on architecture’s scene. Students will be asked to present weekly analyses of relevant buildings and take a final exam.

    • Structures 2

      ARC-522 | 2 Credits | AZ

      This course is a lecture class that focuses on structural design for architects. Students will learn to efficiently organize, coordinate and communicate information in order to convey data necessary for structural design. Incorporated is an applied research project and field sketches related to structural design and detailing. Students will gain exposure to the essence of structural design, primarily using wood members, and with an emphasis on systems, detailing, connections and economic design.

    • Communicate Design 2

      ARC-532 | 2 Credits | AZ

      Expands on the concepts developed and learned in Communicate Design 1 regarding visual representation of design in areas such as: manual drawing and drafting, hand rendering, perspective drawing, graphic design and layout, and 3-d modeling and fabrication. Students will enhance their understanding of each technique as it relates to one’s architectural intentions.

    • Principles of Sustainability

      ARC-551 | 2 Credits | AZ

      Principles of Sustainability, and Applied Sustainability focus on healthy and resource-efficient residential and commercial design. Combined, the two seminars address issues of solar radiation, passive solar design, energy efficiency, natural ventilation and mechanical systems, non-toxic finishes in materials, remediation, sustainable and recycled materials, lighting, and water crisis issues.

    • Taliesin West as Text

      ARC-582 | 1 Credits | AZ

      Frank Lloyd Wright said his was an architecture of principle. Having principles is only the beginning, however. Having an idea is not architecture. Showing principles through form, structure, materials, color, etc., and their relationships, is what makes Architecture, rather than philosophy, or poetry, or music. These activities have parallel relationships to architecture and we can learn by following their connections from principles to realizations, but architecture makes that connection using its own materials, which are particular to itself. Preservation is “managing change.” It is at one end of the spectrum from commission, to design, to construction, to maintenance, to alteration, to preservation, and potentially to destruction. Each stage has its own, internal goals, but they also have a place in the larger sequence. (What are the differences of the goals in each stage?) Architecture is not just “building;” it is about representation of ideals. That is why it can be “read.” How a design looks, what forms it chooses (and rejects), how it combines them with each other and with the materials, comprise the representational activity of architecture. Architecture sends messages about many things: place in the world, both local and global; relation of individual and community; allocation of resources; cultural context; etc. A building takes a position about these issues consciously or unconsciously. Taliesin West as Text explores these ideas.

    Summer Term

    • Experimental Studio

      ARC-503 | 5 Credits | WI

      The Experimental Studio offers students a chance to use the skills and knowledge they have been acquiring to break the box, develop a new vision, and experiment with new modes of both design and representation. The studio program will be open ended, based on a thematic, rather than a programmatic, core. Students will be 3 encouraged to use the history of experimentation in American architecture, including that conducted by Frank Lloyd Wright, to develop new ways of seeing and acting in their world. This studio will put special emphasis on modes of presentation that go beyond the representations students have learned in previous studios.

  • Year Two Course Requirements

    Fall Term

    • Studio 3

      ARC-601 | 6 Credits | WI/AZ

      Studio 3 begins to incorporate critical technical knowledge regarding the design and construction of building materials and assemblies. All aspects of human inhabitation and use are addressed in a manner that weaves the various disciplines and trades together into a cohesive design. This process of layering may be applied to volumes or spaces, material assemblies, building systems, historical context, and contemporary interpretation. A multilayered project provides students with the opportunity to mediate between the many variables influencing the design of architecture. The purpose of the studio is to layer and weave the various aspects of design into an integrated, holistic design, including the introduction of mechanical, structural, code compliance, building safety, and material specifications. Additionally, this studio focuses on understanding buildings as layers of complex and interactive systems, and sets the stage for further expansion into even larger scale neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Large-scale design projects focus on public structures and civic monuments, campuses, masterplans, and regional design.

    • Codes

      ARC-621 | 3 Credits | WI/AZ

      This course is a study of the International Building Code as it applies to building design from the architect’s perspective. Students will develop the knowledge of the building code to apply code requirements to their Box, shelter, and other community design and construction projects. Students will develop: the ability to determine the occupancies of typical buildings; the ability to determine applicable construction type to a building based on construction materials; the ability to calculate allowable area and height for single and multiple story buildings, and for separated and non-separated uses; the ability to analyze a typical building for means of egress, including determining occupant load, egress width, and travel distance; the ability to analyze materials for compliance with the building code, including materials for roofing, exterior walls, and interior finishes.

    • Applied Sustainability

      ARC-651 | 2 Credits | WI/AZ

      Student will focus on healthy and resource-efficient residential and commercial design. Combined, the two seminars address issues of solar radiation, passive solar design, energy efficiency, natural ventilation and mechanical systems, non-toxic finishes in materials, remediation, sustainable and recycled materials, lighting, and water crisis issues.

    Spring Term

    • Integrated Design Studio

      ARC-602 | 6 Credits | AZ

      The Integrated Design Studio is a highly-structured studio that spans preliminary research and design to design development. The scale and scope of the project are appropriately complex for the objectives of the studio, and generally focus on a mixed-use, multi-story building in an urban context. Students develop the design through the required set of criteria and graphic standards that best demonstrate student ability in comprehensive design and systems integration. The studio aims to develop student ability to produce an architectural project informed by a comprehensive program, from schematic design through the detailed development of programmatic spaces, structural and environmental systems, life-safety provisions, wall sections, and building assemblies. The purpose of the studio is to act as the capstone of the student’s learning process in which he or she can demonstrate analytical, design, and presentation skills.

    • Contracts

      ARC-622 | 2 Credits | AZ

      Sessions will provide an overview of the most frequently used AIA and ConsensusDOCs contract forms, how they can be customized for the particular needs of a project, the liabilities that flow from them to the Architect and others, the ethical negotiation of these contracts and their ongoing use throughout the life of a project. Students will read contract documents in advance of class, participate in interactive classroom lectures designed to explore the uses and limits of the documents, as well as how to ethically negotiate terms of them for a specific project. Students will explore the newest design and construction industry contract forms, looking at such issues as project electronic communications, building information modeling (BIM), and sustainable/green design development, as well as emerging methods of project delivery, such as integrated project delivery and the Architect’s role on construction manager-managed projects. Students desiring to explore preparation of these additional contract forms for use on their graduate box projects will work one-on-one with the teacher to customize these forms for their specific project.

    • Building Construction Technology

      ARC-623 | 3 Credits | AZ

      This class explores how an architectural project becomes realizable, including the parties involved, and the contracts and drawings (construction documents). There is a focus on drawing specifications- the detailed information included in the project manual that further explain the drawings. Students will complete several assignments and participate in scenarios.

    Summer Term

    • Pre-thesis Seminar

      ARC-689 | 2 Credits | AZ

      This course aims to explore the potential and limitations that diverse tools played in the production and diffusion of architectural intelligence while providing tools for shaping new positions and discourses in the form of a thesis proposal; the written component of the final project; and a print and web based visualization and presentation of rigorous, original research. Focusing on historical precedents, students will investigate how certain strategies and mediums forged new forms of aesthetic, critical, conceptual, narrative, programmatic and technical positions. A rigorous research component will be followed by the development of new and known mediums of research and dissemination. Students will fully immerse on the construction of critical positions and discourses while forging potential new modalities of architectural intelligence. The final project of the course consists on the development of a thesis proposal.

    • Internship

      ARC-699

      Taking place during the summer sessions, internships provide practical experience in the field of architecture and are a mandatory part of the students’ education.

  • Year Three Course Requirements

    Fall Term

    • Shelter Thesis – Design/Construct

      ARC-731 | 6 Credits | WI/AZ

      This experience will provide students with the opportunity to take design from representation to physical reality. In most cases students design what they will construct, or assist their colleagues in the design-build process. Student learning establishes continuity from proposal, to design, construction, use, maintenance, alteration, and preservation. Projects and student work are guided, mentored, and evaluated by architecture Core Faculty, practitioner faculty, and practitioners in the internship network.

    • Construction Document Technology

      ARC-721 | 3 Credits | WI/AZ

      This class explores how an architectural project becomes realizable, including the parties involved, and the contracts and drawings (construction documents). There is a focus on drawing specifications- the detailed information included in the project manual that further explain the drawings. Students will complete several assignments and participate in scenarios. The scenarios will be varied and will cover additional documents such as RFIs, ASIs, submittals, and substitution requests.

    • Urbanism

      ARC- 723 | 2 Credits | WI/AZ

      Urbanism explores history and global culture and cultural diversity and social equity in terms of how urban environments develop, and the implications for design. The course also focuses on technical aspects of design such as documentation, applicability of codes and other regulations, and the legal responsibilities of architects designing in urban environments.

    Spring Term

    • Shelter Thesis – Construct/Inhabit

      ARC-732 | 6 Credits | AZ

      A continuation and expansion of the experience and work begun in ARC-731 that offers students offers students the unprecedented experience of shaping the quality of their living spaces and to become the user of their own designs. Projects and student work are guided, mentored, and evaluated by architecture Core Faculty, practitioner faculty, and practitioners in the internship network.

    • Practice Management

      ARC-724 | 2 Credits | AZ

      Through participation in this class student will demonstrate that they: Understand the role of the architect in regard to professional conduct and ethics; Understand the various legal and organizational structures of architectural firms; Understand the marketing element of an architectural practice from branding, proposals, social media, to Leadership; Understand the financial element of an architectural practice from establishing fees to invoicing; Understand the elements of effective project management, including resource allocation, working with clients, working with consultants, and project scheduling; Understand the risks and liabilities involved with architectural practice, including contracts and agreements, professional liability, and legal responsibilities; Each student will understand their personality traits and how they interact with personalities of those they work with and work for; Understand the difference between leadership and management, and how they apply in running an architectural practice and in running a project; Develop written and verbal communication skills to help students in their professional careers; Understand what professional organizations are available and the purpose they serve in professional development.

    • Architectural Theory

      ARC-761 | 2 Credits | AZ

      Surveys of the history of architectural theory, as well as reading/discussion groups. Architectural theory is an area where several disciplines meet and develop new perspectives for architecture in a wide range of directions—from the technical to the socio-cultural.

  • Elective Courses

    • Shakespeare

      ARC-590 | 1 Credit | WI

      The Shakespeare Sessions explore the context and text of a play chosen from the American Players Theater repertoire. The Sessions culminate in seeing the play onstage at APT and writing a review that demonstrates critical thinking. Instructors will discuss the historical and cultural background and provide information about the central issues of the play. group discussions will center on understanding the language and the ideas of the piece. The class looks at how “literary” understanding of Shakespeare might be altered by an appreciation of the circumstances involved in the creation and performance of such texts. There is focus on the design process and examination of Shakespeare’s choices of structure and form, the director’s choices as he shapes the production, and the actors’ choices as they embody character.

    • Visual Literacy

      ARC-591 | 1 Credit | WI

      This course focuses on understanding how our brains “construct” images and how our culture assigns meaning to them depending on context. In the course of addressing these issues we will explore various paradoxes and puzzles: How has evolution both focused and limited our vision. When architects and clients look at architectural drawings, are they seeing the same thing? Do images constitute a “language”? Students will learn to see the world differently as a result of analyzing and reflecting on vision itself and its absence.

    • Furniture Studio

      ARC-592 | 1 Credit | AZ

      This class will use Frank Lloyd Wright’s art glass patterns and the furniture of Taliesin to study the ideas and systems that energize his work. These remarkable patterns and objects contain unique compositional effects, organizational principles and structural solutions not usually found in contemporary design.

    • Reading the Landscape

      ARC-596 | 2 Credits | WI

      Architecture students will look, think, learn, explore, and “get down and dirty” beyond the building footprint, construction site, property boundaries, and “fence lines” (real and metaphorical) to better understand how what they do as designers and builders on the landscape is intimately and momentously connected to a living community that may be more responsive, sensitive, captivating, demanding, and rewarding than a client.

    • Performance

      ARC-597 | 2 Credits | WI

      Students explore imagination, creativity, the social context, literature and design. They rehearse, design, build, and perform a one-act or short two-act play for the public. The chosen piece will offer the opportunity to explore interdisciplinary areas of knowledge and skill. Learning about the world of the play – understanding it’s time, context and ideas – is critical in interpreting the text. Performance techniques will be introduced and exercised. Performers will wrestle with translating ideas and timing from the page to the stage. Designers will interpret the physical world of the piece, creating a design that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

    • Communicate Design 3

      ARC-631 | 2 Credits | WI/AZ

      Expands on the concepts developed and learned in Communicate Design 1 and 2 regarding visual representation of design in areas such as: manual drawing and drafting, hand rendering, perspective drawing, graphic design and layout, and 3-d modeling and fabrication. Students will enhance their understanding of each technique as it relates to one’s architectural intentions.

    • Furniture Studio 2

      ARC-692 | 1 Credit | WI/AZ

      This course is intended to provide strategies and techniques for safe and effective use of the woodshop for the beginner as well as more experienced woodworkers. The class will start with an overview of terminology and the woodworking machinery. A handout will be provided and we will divide up into small groups of two to three students. Woodshop Utility will provide ongoing feedback about the work being accomplished, as well as a final assessment.

  • Additional Courses

    • Immersion Studio

      IMR-100 | WI

      The program consists of 6 weeks of regularly scheduled Taliesin activities, anchored by an architectural project in which participants will design a small shelter to be located on the hill behind the Hillside studio. Over the course of 6 weeks, participants will develop a site plan, floor plan, elevations, sections and perspectives that represent their ideas. Learning to produce these types of drawings will be a component of the program, as well as digital 3D and physical model building. Participants are encouraged to explore, analyze and respond to the rich legacy of unique architecture which exists on the 500-acre estate. An itinerary will be provided before the start of the program.

    • Charrettes

      A charrette is a concerted design exercise. Originally named for the final period of the periodic design exams taken by the students at the Beaux Arts academy in Paris, it referred to the carts that went around town to pick up student work. Desperate students would jump onto the cart (en charrette) and try to finish their drawings there until they were kicked off at the gate of the academy. Over the years, it has come to mean the final period in a design problem, or a design project of great intensity and short duration. The Taliesin Fellowship had an annual charrette: the design of a “box project” to be presented to Frank Lloyd Wright by the apprentices. Over the years, it became a way for them to show off their talents, express themselves, impress Wright and each other, and clear their mind from the buildings they were helping to design, draw up, or model. In its current incarnation, the Taliesin Charrette focuses on community projects, giving students a chance to immerse themselves in public space and public issues, while trying out the skills and knowledge they have obtained. Projects will be exhibited and published after each charrette.