Special Subject: Architecture Studies — The Contemporary Urban Facade: The Art, Technology, and Ecology of High Performance Urban Facades

This course is a research workshop investigating urban facades. It is intended as the basis for subsequent research efforts. It will investigate the design, technology, and ecology of the urban facade, with special emphasis on contemporary architectural and urban issues. The workshop will consist of research, analysis, design, and representation.

Much of modern architecture has been typologically ill-suited for urban conditions, and recent building envelop research has tended to produce continuous architectural skins wrapped around oddly shaped anti-urban buildings. The facade — a key issue for urban buildings — has too often been abandoned. On the other hand, much traditional urban building has relied on a highly flexible system of shutters, windows, panels, and walls to provide both climatic adjustment and urban adaptability. The question for the workshop is whether similar components can be developed to produce competitive, or superior, contemporary urban facades?

To address this question the workshop will consist of the following sequence:

1. Overview of historic and contemporary examples
2. Survey of the evolution of urban facades
3. Analysis and presentation of one traditional and one modern urban façade
4. Design and analysis of a contemporary façade
5. Comparison and presentation

Classes will consist of lectures, pin-ups, and discussion. Work will be both individual and collaborative, and evaluation will be based on attendance, participation, and project(s).