Texas Tech University

Good Architecture for Hard Times

Arch 4601 · 2 Hybrid, 1 Online

Instructor: Julie Zook

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This studio takes the assumption that design ingenuity is important in a special way during hard times. Health is a central topic of this studio, and main purposes of your project will be designing to remediate existing problems in public health as well as designing for equitable access to spaces that act as community focal points.

Design for health in a context of architectural excellence

This studio is set in Columbus, Indiana, which is home to over a dozen remarkable works of Modernist architecture. Your building proposal will take form as a response to one of several of the notable buildings in Columbus. Columbus has many of the same public health problems as much of America, which result partly from lack of physical activity opportunities, lack of supportive social networks, and undermanagement of chronic health conditions, and now, as everywhere, COVID-19. Your building proposal will reflect understanding of first principles in the relation of architecture to society to promote health and well being at the building and urban scale.

Building on a building

You will comprehensively design a building that will respond an existing canonical building, and you will integrate site, program, visual form, material assembly, ventilation system, and structure. You will proceed from a thorough analysis of the existing building that investigates systems, elements, and context. In this way, the first weeks of the semester will focus on getting to know the problems at their root, then developing a strong conceptual scheme. The remainder of the semester will develop layers of specificity, including in site design, structure, materials, and ventilation.

The story that makes the best case for your proposal

The final deliverable for this studio is a competition book that describes and presents your response to the brief. Your book should be analytically precise and extremely well-illustrated and well-written. The book is a design project that will be the basis of the studio final, which will include a best-of-section award.

Class modality

2 hybrid sections with projects in pairs (Zook, Wahlberg)

1 fully online section with individual projects (Shacklette)

Architecture in Nonwestern Societies

Arch 4311 · Online

Instructor: Joseph Aranha

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The course provides an understanding of the relationships of culture and architecture in nonwestern (non European influenced) societies and is open to anyone with an interest in architecture. In many nonwestern cultures, traditional architecture is a visual language that gives formal expression to complex ideas about universal order, religious beliefs, cultural values and social organization. To the casual observer, these environments may appear to be haphazard and disorderly collections of buildings and spaces.

However, to the initiated user, these environments are meaningful and symbolic manifestations of belief systems and values. The course also examines how traditional architecture makes use of available resources, responds to climate and geographical regions and the use of available or indigenous technologies. Colonization, modernization and more recently, globalization and rapid urbanization have transformed, altered, and even obliterated many of these meaningful traditional environments and building traditions. At the same time many architects around the world have drawn inspiration from traditional architecture to create buildings that respond meaningfully to local culture, resources, environments. These contemporary projects that draw from tradition also address issues of sustainability and regional identity.

Introduction to Historic Preservation: History and Theory of Historic Preservation (El Paso)

Arch 4324 · Online

Instructor: Providencia Velázquez

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This course in historic preservation provides an overview of an interdisciplinary field. Historic preservation brings together a broad spectrum of disciplines – historical research, interpretation, and writing; architecture and architectural history; conservation – the study of building materials; design; urban planning; real estate and business development; and public policy – to document, protect, and interpret historic buildings, districts and sites. Over the course of this semester we will cover four tracks in the field: history, conservation, design, and planning. Additionally, we will discuss some of the ethical and philosophical considerations involved with preservation, public history and policy.

Architectural Projections

Arch 4341 · Hybrid

Instructor: Bryan Buie

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The design of architecture and its translation to building has historically relied on systems of projection geometry, which until very recently have been considered “tools of the trade”. With the sudden ascendency of digital representation in architectural practice and in our everyday visual culture, these earlier systems suddenly find themselves displaced from the center of architectural production. However, what is “manual,” tactile or involving the hand in the design process is a cogent agent of creativity and thought. Hand drawings and their attendant structures, rules, relationships, logics and processes can provide tangible analytical knowledge, spatial comprehension and creative insight. If it is recognized that these qualities are inherently computational, then the engagement with the computer can be synergetic.

However, such a mutually beneficial and cyclically informative relationship between computer, hand, and drawing is not automatic. Although systems of projection are latent in any software that mediates between three-dimensional content and a two-dimensional screen, their presence are usually automatic and their structure invisible. Architectural projections can beeasily generated with aid from software, but the value of constructing projections – and constructing with projections – is easily lost. Drawing from and with computers requires a mastery of the structures that make up the foundation of software: geometry, abstraction, and logic.

Poetic Interoperability

Arch 4341 · Online

Instructor: Bennett Neiman

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Digital media is transforming the teaching and practice of design, offering new ways to see, think, study, and understand architecture.

This media elective investigates the tactics and techniques of how digital media and physical material are used interchangeably as instruments in a design environment.

A series of weekly exercises inspired by Bauhaus principles of craftsmanship and visual perception stimulates intuition and analytic observation.

The methodology explores the making of space with a particular emphasis on sensorial experience through light, shade, shadow, texture, color, reflectivity, transparency, semi-transparency, and motion.

Tectonic Translations: Drawing and Building Performative Facades for a New Climate Age (El Paso)

Arch 4341 · Online

Instructors: Catherine Soderberg Esper + Raquel Bitar

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In this course, students will draw and build performative facade components for the built environment of Downtown El Paso using both digital and analog tools.

Today, the architect is charged with the design and the builder is responsible for the means and methods of construction. This significantly disempowers the architect and problematizes the relationship between design intent and material construction. It's important for architects to be authors of not only the 2D image, but the 3D constructive logic. This course will encourage students to innovate and design a series of novel tectonic building materials while promoting environmental stewardship and addressing critical climate issues of the region.


Arch 4341 · Hybrid

Instructor: Jeremy Wahlberg

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Lubbock, West Texas, is a location where the existence of Modernism, specifically Mid-century modern (MCM), is less obvious, less noticeable and assumed ‘confidential'. In this region, we face daily the brutal physical conditions, the hard environment of the dust coast as well as a hard cultural climate. Hardly a bastion for expressive and progressive ideals. Yet, peppered throughout this isolated agricultural phenom of cotton, cattle, wind and oil industries, exists ‘cool'. Where did this ‘cool' come from, what does it signify now, and how has it aged over the decades, is it still timeless?


Arch 4341 · Hybrid

Instructor: Neal Lucas Hitch

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Over the last 60 years, popular architectural practice and theory have been on a path arcing toward the continued deconstruction of form and rethinking of function, realigning ‘design order' with those natural, complex orders that dictate the creation of nature. Today this has accumulated in a radical New Metabolic movement in Japan and abroad distinguished by its understanding of architecture as a part of nature—often utilizing systematic strategies inspired by children's toys, ready-made objects, and natural systems to create semi-modular buildings.

Toys V Metabolism looks at contemporary Japanese and Chinese architecture and its connection to the Metabolist movement of the 1960s. Students will read, discuss, and analyze key works from select architects, theorists, and philosophers to develop a critical framework that will then be used as a jumping-off point to create semi-modular designs based on toys and other ready-made objects students collect in their individual, social-distanced environments. In turn, these designs will be used as the bases to explore hybrid digital/analog forms of representation, including renderings, animations, and diagrams.

Digital tools and ideas behind the scene

Arch 4341 · Online

Instructor: Sora Key

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Digital technologies situated within the context of human knowledge representation, this lecture course aims to prepare students to understand the fundamentals of general computer technologies by introducing how computational design tools work as instruments in shaping our ideas and the design processes. The course will cover 1) general history and theories of digitalized design tools, and 2) how the new tools have changed (or not changed at all) to effectively support and shape the way designers work, think, and make. The course will include the conceptual representation schemes that enabled contemporary design tools such as Rhinoceros (3D modeling tool) or Photoshop (pixel-based image editing tool), as well as algorithm-based generative tools and analytical simulation engines.

Plastic Play Plant: Plastic Playspace + Waste Facility (El Paso)

Arch 4601 · Hybrid

Instructor: Catherine Söderberg Esper

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Students will design a plastic processing facility in Downtown El Paso that also functions as an immersive and ‘highly instagrammable' sensorial playscape made entirely of plastic waste. The aim of this project is to seize a waste stream of large volume problematic material and transform it into a new raw building material.

After handling nearly half of the world's recyclable waste for the past quarter century, in January 2018, China enacted the “National Sword” policy which banned the import of most plastics from the United States. Municipalities are now forced to deal with their own trash instead of exporting it, and have discovered that there are virtually no domestic manufacturers that want to buy this waste in order to turn it into something else. El Paso emerges as one of the most affected cities in Texas. As concerns over plastic pollution increase, the proposed architecture will provide a solution for managing El Paso's municipal plastic waste while simultaneously providing an amusing experience that exemplifies the tangible possibilities of upcycling and giving new life to used plastic for architectural applications. The facility will collect, sort, clean, shred, and mold plastic into new architectural products. The playspace will be assembled from those newly fabricated products and users will actively participate in promoting the circular economy philosophy by posing for selfies with captivating and whimsical backdrops.