Parachute Drop Into SCAD Lacoste – Oooh La La

by Elaine Gallagher Adams, AIA, LEED AP

SCAD hosts more than 250 students annually to study les beaux arts in Lacoste, France, a town that in any other context would be considered a world class slowcation destination. This is a place that, upon arrival, calms the heartrate and demands your undistracted appreciative attention. As students wake and emerge from their hobbit holes the first morning, whispered declarations of “I can’t believe I’m in this place,” are sent out to the frosty valley below as they stand in wonder pausing on a 400-year old stone terrace.

Students are here to study though. It is a regular quarter term here in Lacoste, uninterrupted by hurricanes and green beer holidays. They attend class and do real work, take tests, and go on magnificent field trips to Roman ruins, textile studios, cemeteries, edgy art exhibits, Impressionist landscapes, and world class contemporary architecture. We spend one fantastic week in Paris visiting famous museums and lesser known gems. My architecture students thoroughly enjoyed the Louis Vuitton Foundation designed by Frank Gehry, which included a beautifully curated traveling exhibit from MOMA. Some class groups visited the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature – Taxidermy) and the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Trades), learning that sometimes our very best experiences are the unexpected finds. A spontaneous invitation to tour L’Ecole des Beaux Arts studios left our students both envious of those Parisian students and comparing SCAD’s own similar resources, as well as appreciative of our advanced technologies at SCAD.

We are fattened up by three French chefs in the school kitchen, spoiling us silly with tartes, coq-au-vin, eclairs, religieuse pastries, ratatouille, and legumes that make me long to experiment in my own kitchen. Yes, we walk ten thousand steps every day, climbing the equivalent of 53 stories, and we need those calories! Don’t expect to lose weight, but you will indeed get fit. Don’t bring dress shoes. You’re on a mountain, navigating Roman roads and quarries.

Lacoste offers SCAD students an extraordinary experience. Housed in 12th century buildings filled with creative people from varying programs, our architecture students are embracing game design, preservation design students are diving into print-making, and painting students are basking in European history. As a professor of architecture, this is one of the richest teaching environments I can imagine. The quarter comes to a poetic ending with Open Studio, a multi-gallery exhibit of students work, much of it for sale. You will see examples of animated films, ceramics, textile art, sketchbooks, painting, sculpting, architecture, print-making, and more. Hundreds of visitors regularly attend this event in this remote village, validating the high quality of the work created by SCAD students.

SCAD offers classes in five locations: Savannah, GA; Atlanta, GA; Lacoste, FR; Hong Kong, CH; and our newest campus Online. Tuition and fees remain the same for all locations, making seamless transitions from campus to campus. This means ALL students have access to these life-changing experiences, many traveling internationally for the first time. So come with us next year! You’ll never forget it.

Elaine Gallagher Adams, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a professor of architecture, urban design, preservation design, and sustainable design at SCAD [], currently teaching in Lacoste, France.

The Integrated Path: SCAD and Georgia House Bill 41

by Dean Ivan Chow, AIA, NCARB

The Integrated Path at SCAD is a first. Along with a small cohort of schools nationwide, SCAD has implemented an unprecedented and rigorous academic track that incorporates all three components of professional licensure for architects – education, experience and examination – within its B.F.A and NAAB-accredited M.Arch. programs that would provide a structured framework for dedicated students to graduate with a license to practice architecture. In as few as seven years.

Georgia state law required the completion of an accredited architectural program prior to gaining access to the Architect Registration Examination (A.R.E.). That means no one can commence taking any section of the A.R.E. until they have graduated with a NAAB-accredited degree. In order to allow pre-graduation access to the A.R.E. for students on the Integrated Path, Georgia state law needed to be amended.

Taking on this crucial legislative component of the Integrated Path is also a first for SCAD. Early in 2016, SCAD crafted an amendment that proposed the insertion of nationally-approved NCARB model language into existing state law that would allow IPAL students to take divisions of the A.R.E. while they obtain education and experience.

With the support of state components of the American Institute of Architects, the Georgia Board of Architects and Interior Designers, local and regional architects and both Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University, SCAD submitted House Bill 41 on January 11, 2017.

On January 30, 2017, alongside other supporters, leadership from SCAD’s architecture program, testified at a house regulated industries sub-committee hearing on the merits of the Integrated Path at SCAD and the positive impact it would have on the profession of architecture, especially in the State of Georgia.

The house sub-committee reconvened and approved the bill on February 15th with minor changes to the language, and sent it to the full committee, which approved HB41 on February 16th. The full House of Representatives approved HB41 170-1 on February 22nd after which it crossed over to the senate.

The senate regulated industries committee heard testimony and approved the bill on March 6th. Subsequently, the bill passed through the senate rules committee on March 10th followed by full senate approval on March 13th. House Bill 41 was signed into law by Governor Deal on May 1, 2017.

With this change of law allowing pre-graduation access to the A.R.E., along with the rigorous preparation of dedicated students in a fully integrated academic program, the Integrated Path promises to pave new ground in providing the following benefits to the profession:

  • Provides a structured and expeditious path to licensure for motivated individuals aspiring to become architects.
  • Supports a more comprehensive understanding of the practice of architecture, better preparing graduates for immediate productivity.
  • Provides a fully integrated understanding of professional practice during the formative years of development, which will strengthen the chance of long term professional success.
  • Reduces the cost of becoming an architect by offsetting the cost of education through an aggressive schedule of paid internship work.
  • Allows design firms a more streamlined approach to identifying and employing graduating architects who might fit their business profiles.
  • Women comprise more than 50% of architecture students, but comprise only 20% of licensed architects. The IPAL provides dedicated women a way of achieving licensure before other important life obligations take place.

The Integrated Path at SCAD will be a unique opportunity for select students with the highest degree of discipline and dedication to the architectural profession. This pioneering national initiative will keep Georgia in the forefront and serve as a model of advancement for the profession of architecture and the highest standard for those aspiring to lead the profession into the future.

Postscript: Since the implementation of the Integrated Path at SCAD in 2016, over 70% of the first cohort of freshman IPAL students have secured paid AXP internship work this summer from firms partnered with SCAD on this groundbreaking initiative.

Ivan Chow is Dean of the School of Building Arts at SCAD.

A Hitchhikers Guide To High Water

by Alice Guess

High WaterThe conversation around resiliency in the built environment in the face of Sea Level rise and climate change has reached a fevered pitch. Maybe it is because in the last month the southeast has seen a thousand year flood event and record setting high tides in the past week. Maybe it is because of devastating drought in California and the mudslides that followed the rains when they finally came. Maybe it was the threat of a super storm on the west coast of Mexico, that thankfully was not as catastrophic as predicted. But people everywhere are talking about what we can do now to prepare ourselves for extreme weather calamities and gradual rising temperatures and rising water. And most of the talk isn’t pretty, because the facts aren’t pretty. It is indeed sobering to think about familiar places, that we have invested our professional and personal lives in, becoming uninhabitable for our children or grandchildren.  Imagery on websites like NOAA’s coastal flood exposure website contribute to this bleak outlook as we see a familiar coastline engulfed in shades of red and orange. It is enough to make us throw up our hands, move inland and leave our coastal cities to become tomorrow’s Atlantis.

Or not…

Maybe we should fall back on the wise words etched on the cover of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “DON’T PANIC.”

Maybe we need to look at this issue another way. Maybe we all need to meet these problems like architects and designers would meet them. Think about it. Good architects take challenges and turn them into opportunities. Since we first started making buildings, settlements, and cites we have taken the vulnerabilities of humans persisting on this planet amongst the elements and turned them into opportunities to elevate that experience into something greater than the sum of the limitations themselves. An architect knows that a roof can be more than shelter; a wall can be more than just a screen from the wind. Good architecture responds to the particular challenges of that roof and that wall in that place at that time. No matter how high the water gets, that same thinking still applies.

So architects need to take the lead on this conversation. For the most part, we have been doing that at the level of individual projects that anticipate disruptive changes in given environments. Now that the conversation is reaching the level of municipalities and regions, we need to raise our voices to address resiliency at a much larger scale. As daunting as the challenges facing our current infrastructure seem, we need to remember that one hundred years ago much of those systems didn’t exist. The projected consequences of sea level rise and climate change over the next century are pretty clear at this point, so now we need to start imagining what our new infrastructure needs will be and how they will change how we live in the places we love.

Architects are, by the very nature of what we do, best positioned to lead the response to these challenges in a way that not only insures we can persist but that persisting can be beautiful and comfortable and safe and functional. So architects need to step up and take our seat at the table and start leading the way. We need to reclaim the conversation from the insurance industry and statisticians who focus on “hazard” and “risk”. Let’s start talking about possibilities and opportunities, to start designing our future. And remember to bring your towel.

Alice Guess is a professor of Architecture & Urban Design at SCAD.

Critical-thinking, Design, and Representation… Not Necessarily in that Order

by Sarah Felippe
Graduate Urban Design Student at SCAD

A critical exercise for any designer is the study of representation beyond its simplistic aspect of turning drawings into appealing pieces of art. We choose different representation techniques not only because of their visual impact, but because they are the visual content of an architectural speech and the architect’s own worldview. Taking the examples of three offices- Atelier Bow Wow, Dogma and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) – we can see how the way they represent their projects suggests the ways they understand cities.

Dogma - Magnet Bienne; Atelier Bow Wow - Miyashita Park, Tokyo; BIG - Europa City, Paris

Dogma – Magnet Bienne; Atelier Bow Wow – Miyashita Park, Tokyo; BIG – Europa City, Paris

BIG’s well known practice of explaining every concept with a sequence of self-explanatory diagrams and infographics – a practice borrowed from Ingel’s alma mater, the Office of Metropolitan Architecture that has influenced student work worldwide and can be observed in many architectural boards – satisfies in selling an idea. BIG is successful with this technique, but its continuous use becomes a trope that easily, in absence of critical thinking, avoids the complexity of an urban context or architectural program and reduces it to the simplistic symbolism of a diagram. Each architect or office must determine its own practice, but, as a close analysis of BIG’s Europa City project reveals, the excessive use of diagrams falls into the mistake of understanding cities as a collage of different functions, connected by a transportation axis. Cities go beyond diagrams, and BIG may argue that Europa City is not a random overlapping of functions and programs, but that is what their diagrams show.

Atelier Bow Wow’s famous perspective drawings, here illustrated in the Miyashita Park project, have a different representation approach, almost resembling “Where’s Waldo?”, where the complexity of urban context is illustrated with a multiplicity of activities happening, people walking in all directions and performing different actions. And exactly because of this apparent chaotic environment, the eye is not driven to a particular focal point, and it is the viewer’s job to decide where to look, and therefore, how to look to cities. The beauty of those drawings is exactly the creation of a multiple storytelling, in which your own eyes guide you. It is a technique that although may seem confusing for our lazy brains, accustomed to absorbing images without processing them, is a very powerful example of representing with one single picture many different aspects of urban life.

Dogma also developed a very unique technique; to start, the projects on their website are presented in a continuous slideshow, as if they were connected by the same principle, and, more importantly, the understanding of one is not possible without the other. If plans and isometric perspectives are always black and white and use mainly linework, it is because their intent is to observe spatial organization and insertion in urban context; drawings of the front views (vertical plan) are predominantly one-point perspectives that emphasize the relationship of the built form with landscape. Not by chance in their front view representations, paintings if you will, the view of the sky, as if one was standing at street level, prevails over everything else. This type of representation is by no means accidental, it is a rigorous choice to show the office’s continuity of speech about architecture and the city.

Those three examples show that the way we represent cities highly influences the way we think of cities, and no matter how hard we try to make them realistic and comprehensive, representation will always lack something – the lack of truth. The question though is not if we should put so much effort in making hyper-realistic representations of projects that do not yet exist, because it should already be understood by architects and other designers that realistic renderings only fulfill commercial wishes and not much more. The art of applying material, lighting and placing jumping people all over can make your project more desirable maybe to an investor, but we should be able to differentiate imagery for commercial appeal from imagery that helps us to understand and solve the technical resolution that urban design requires. One thing is to have a goal, an idea, a proposal investigated through built form and using different representation techniques to accomplish these goals; the other is to confuse design with representation itself. Representation is a tool that can add glamour to a project, but as a primordial condition it should be a tool that informs your project and adds content to it.

(SCAD School of Building Arts is proud to have our students appear as guest bloggers. Visit our site often to see what our students are thinking about!)

Art of the Next City

by Christian Sottile, AIA, NCARB

This is the century of the city. Globally, across numerous cultures and contexts, people are rediscovering and reshaping the city — the greatest of all human inventions. New, unconventional ideas are expanding our perception of the possibilities. I am ever more convinced that the next global future lies in the space of the city. The city is the place where each artist and each discipline come together. It is the greatest expression of our very humanity. And at its best, it is art.Art of the Next City

As designers, when we work in this context, we are at our best. Our ideas are at their most visible, most provocative and most impactful. This seems to be true at all the scales of design encompassed in the SCAD School of Building Arts, from interior design, furniture design, architecture, historic preservation, architectural history and urban design.

So how will we build? SCAD students are unique among emerging professionals in this era. They have a comprehensive grasp of the most advanced digital tools and an intuitive and fluid capability to use the hand and the eye, the pencil and paintbrush, and the tools of the building trades. They are uniquely capable in deploying these seemingly disparate skills in the development of a synthesized and unified whole.

The blending of art and design along with technology and innovation allows us to forge the next generation of cities. We must reject the soulless, placeless urbanism that characterized city centers that were created or recreated in the 20th century and instead imagine places that come alive with a synthesis of art, humanism and delight.

We need our architects and urbanists to create buildings that nurture humanity, we need more complete interior environments and outdoor spaces as new understandings of behaviors emerge, we need the expertise of furniture designers in this new compact city as we reimagine every single element, we need preservationists as we move ahead with the fabric of our past and we need our historians to frame the progress of these disciplines and to avail us of the full discourse of ideas.

At SCAD these ideals have been reinforced recently by projects that we’ve engaged in, from super-collaborations such as SCADpad to projects like LiveSavannah and the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab. New technologies and new art forms overlaying the physical proximity and humanistic geography of traditional cities are evolving and illuminating new possibilities.

In this urban century, I encourage our next generation of designers to guide, develop and shine their own bright lights to lead the way forward.

As each city is defined by its citizens, so our school is defined by our individual talents. The city is the place of discourse and debate, delight and diversion, discovery and dreams. There is ample room in the city’s unlimited space of ideas. As we engage in this discourse at SCAD, our shared language is art, and we are the building artists.

Indeed, the SCAD School of Building Arts is both a school of building and a school of art.

Christian Sottile, AIA, NCARB, is Dean of the School of Building Arts at SCAD.