empty block

Studio Culture

Merica May Jensen

Formal instruction in architecture began at Georgia Tech in 1908; today we are a professional architectural program set within a modern research university. The faculty of the School of Architecture is committed to the twin goals of fostering individual intellectual freedom and a creative, collaborative, and engaged studio community. As such our studio culture policy affirms several important principles of design education at Georgia Tech. It is intended to augment the Georgia Tech Academic Honor Code and Student Bill of Rights.

Working in the Studio

An enormous amount of learning takes place in studio among faculty and students. To facilitate collegial exchange and interaction every studio member should be accessible and participate actively in the studio community. All studio participants are expected to respect the property of their peers. The studio is intended to approximate the tradition of the architect’s atelier, which is to say a special place where the architect works, immersed in the design experience, surrounded by drawing, models, computers, books and other paraphernalia of the discipline and profession. This particular atmosphere should be encouraged and nourished; it is vital for each student to contribute to and maintain this creative working environment. Every member of the studio is expected to use it daily.

Time Management

Time management is central to the success of a rewarding design education. Students are entitled to an appropriate balance between design studio and other aspects of university life. If studio meetings are scheduled outside of regular class hours, faculty should be mindful and sensitive to the needs of all studio members. Students should expect that the creative act of design and visual representation entails a commitment to time in the studio outside of regular class hours. This is an inherent part of studio culture and its central role in the architecture curriculum. However, conflicts can and do arise. Faculty in these situations will assist students in learning how to prioritize their activities and assignments. 

Intellectual Diversity

We value the intellectual diversity of our faculty and students, and we support diverse approaches to studio instruction. The personal and intellectual rights of every person in our community will be respected. All members of our community will conduct themselves with the highest ethical principles and regard for others.

 Theory and Practice

Each student is asked to frame his/her design project as a critical investigation, operating in the space between architecture as a critical discipline and architecture as a critical practice. Most design studios seminars as part of the course schedule and require attendance at the School of Architecture Lecture Series. 

Innovation and Convention

Faculty are expected to teach foundational knowledge of the discipline and professional conventions while introducing students to, and encouraging them to explore, new theories, methods, strategies, and architectural techniques. Georgia Tech is a major research university and students and faculty are encouraged to engage in experimental and speculative thinking, to open up new ideas, and to think things anew.  

Collaborative Design

Design studios should promote collaborative learning experiences that prepare graduates for professional teamwork and most studios throughout the curriculum incorporate collaborative exercises as an integral part of studio pedagogy. We value the involvement of other disciplines, outside professionals, and client representatives who contribute knowledge and different perspectives to the project at hand. 

Constructive Criticism

Critique is an inherent and integral part of the evaluation process in design education. Faculty and invited reviewers are encouraged to deliver criticism constructively when engaging students and others in the review of student work. Design studios are inherently places of exchange, and studio projects are common ground for open discussion and creative design exploration. We encourage all studio participants to exchange ideas, opinions, and experiences in a collegial manner.

Desk Crits and Pin-Ups

Desk crits typically occur at a student’s desk to discuss any number of issues about a particular project. Pin-ups typically occur in a review space or wall surface and very often involve two, three or more students, and may include outside critics. Students are expected to prepare visual material and questions for the faculty in advance of a desk crit or pin-up. Desk crits and pin-ups are generally the most common, informal and personal forms of interaction between students and faculty. These interactions are just one of the many aspects that make architectural design education unique relative to other disciplines in the university.

Design Reviews

Design reviews are a fundamental component of the assessment of student work. Design reviews provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate and improve upon their oral and visual presentation skills. They also provide students an important opportunity to learn to appreciate how their work can be interpreted from different, often unanticipated, perspectives. Faculty are required to stage formal reviews in a public setting and involve members of the academic faculty, as well as other members of the College, Institute, profession, and outside community. Students are required to attend, present, and participate in all design reviews organized by their instructor. Students should be active participants in the reviews of their peers.

Maintenance of the Studio Culture Policy and Evaluation of its Implementation

To the ensure the effectiveness and implementation of the Studio Culture Policy—as well as to create the opportunity to amend or change policies outlined therein—the School of Architecture’s Studio Culture Policy will undergo review every two years by representatives of the faculty (in the form of the School of Architecture Committee) and student body (in the form of the Student Advisory Committee). The Studio Culture Policy will also be reviewed periodically in an open forum that invites the participation of all students and faculty members.