The program begins with an introduction to the history of architecture and to the contemporary profession, helping students understand the variety of paths that their architectural education could follow. Initial studio assignments develop communication skills—verbal, graphic, and written—that enable students to navigate their field while also introducing them to the elements that comprise architecture—surface, wall, door, opening, stair, room. With an emphasis on how things are made, students will be asked to consider fundamental questions: What is a door? How does its making inform its design? How does its design impact the wall surrounding it? This initial period culminates in the design of a small structure encompassing all of the elements explored in the preceding exercises.
In the second year, studio assignments center on urban dwelling via the study of a small house in the city. The student is introduced to fundamental aspects of building: space, structure, materials, and construction. Students begin by researching historical precedents and analyzing how the concept of living in the city has changed over time, and proceed with a study of contemporary issues and building methods that will inform their design. Driven by informed speculation, this period concludes with an exercise in imagining the home of the future. How will changing demographics and family patterns affect the home of the future? What impact will climate change have on how we live?
The third year of design studios introduce more complex sites and programs in the study of multiple and hybrid buildings in the city. Students move beyond the single building to consider the spaces between buildings, infrastructural elements, and neighborhoods. Initial research phases are followed by studio assignments that include the design of mixed-use buildings with hybrid structures, and projects comprised of multiple building elements. Students explore the architect’s role in the making of a neighborhood and end with a project on the neighborhood of the future.
The fourth year of the studio sequence is focused on comprehensive building design. Here, students consider contemporary building practices in a more in-depth manner that stresses the integration of structure, envelope, and building systems into a unified whole. Studio assignments are large institutional 55 buildings in the city with more complex programs and students are asked to consider the nature of how such institutions interface with the urban environment. How does the institution engage the city in a dialogue? What is changed or activated by its presence? What does the building say about its urban context?
Finally, the fifth year is focused on urban design and is more speculative in nature. Students select from a menu of studio options and work side-by-side with Master of Architecture, Master of Science, and Ph.D. degree candidates in research-based, forward-looking studios that speculate on the city of the future. What is our vision of an urban future? What is the role of the architect in its realization? These and other questions are explored in studios, related coursework, and special seminars that focus on the emerg- ing issues of the global city organized by a yearly theme under the umbrella of “The New Metropolis.” This yearly theme binds the studios together thematically, and underpins the discourse of IIT Architecture. lectures, symposia, exhibitions and master classes all intersect with this theme and, together with the advanced studios, define IIT’s position within the discipline of Architecture and constitute its statement to the world at large.