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Studio Culture

Studio Culture | AIAS Studio Culture Publications | AIAS Studio Culture: Speak Up

What is “Studio Culture”? It is the experiences, behaviors, habits and patterns found within the campus-based architecture design studio.

For several years, the AIAS has been leading the discussion on improving this aspect of design education–and ultimately the profession.

Studio Culture: The experiences, habits and patterns found within the architecture design studio.

Those who have studied architecture undoubtedly have vivid memories that characterize their design studio experience. Late nights, exciting projects, extreme dedication, lasting friendships, long hours, punishing critiques, unpredictable events, a sense of community, and personal sacrifice all come to mind. Those aspects are not usually written into the curriculum or even the design assignments, but they are likely the most memorable and influential. The experiences, habits, and patterns found within the architecture design studio make up what we have termed "studio culture."

History of the Studio Culture Initiative

July 2008: The AIAS publishes Toward an Evolution of Studio Culture. The document contains the results of the 2007 Administrators Survey on Studio Culture, the 2008 AIAS Council of Presidents Survey on Studio Culture, lessons learned from peer reviewed studio culture policies, and a summary of best practices, guidelines and recommendations for a more effective studio culture narrative. As such, it represents a significant step forward in the Studio Culture initiative.

July 2005: The AIAS publishes the proceedings document from the Studio Culture Summit, authored by facilitator Clark Kellogg. July 2004: NAAB adopts a 13th Condition for Accreditation (Condition 3.5) requiring schools to have a written policy regarding the culture in their studio environments.

October 2004: The AIAS and the University of Minnesota host the Studio Culture Summit as a forum for a heightened level of dialogue among those with interests in the shape of studio life and architectural education. 2001: Studio Culture is brought to the forefront of the AIAS advocacy agenda.

December 2002: The Redesign of Studio Culture was published as the product of the AIAS Studio Culture Task Force%u2019s research. It is authored by then AIAS Vice President Aaron Koch, current AIA First Vice President Katherine Schwennsen, FAIA with contributions from Thomas Dutton and Deanna Smith.

November 2000: The AIAS establishes Studio Culture Task Force to study effects of current architectural education practices on students and consider alternatives.

Studio Culture Statistics 

­ More than 73 percent of architecture students surveyed for the Building Community report agreed with that they "often feel isolated from others outside the architecture school."

­ While architecture is one of the oldest professions, architecture schools have only been around for the last 150 years. The Ecole des Beaux Arts was the first formal architecture school, and was started by the French government in order to train architects to design buildings for the rapidly growing French beaurocracy. - Tom Fisher, In the Scheme of Things

­ Only 42 percent of architecture school alumni polled for Building Community believed their schools effectively prepared them to work with clients.

­ Between 1990 and 2000, total billings for architectural "expanded services" increased 313 percent, compared to the 86 percent increase for traditional architectural services. - Gordon Chong, sited at Point Break Conference Oct., 11-12, 2001

­ "In our survey, we asked students how much time, in a given week, they spend on extracurricular activities. Twenty-eight percent said they spent none at all, and only one in four said they spent three hours or more per week."
-Ernest Boyer and Lee Mitgang, Building Community

­ More than 8 out of 10 architecture students "found the workload at architecture school overwhelming," according to Boyer and Mitgang.

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