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Roto & Max Underwood, Spring 2019

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Learning Futures

“Don’t limit students to your own learning, they were born in another time. Enter their world.”

     Rabindranath Tagore



Our evolutionary purpose, and the reason I think we are currently present in the Universe, is to Create, as an evolutionary imperative and to resist entropy. We have lived creation itself, from the moment of conception to the moment of birth and the entire memory of this process is stored in our deep cellular memory. It is expressed in two ways: in less than visible ways through our genetic code, and in visible ways though creative work we do as Architects and Designers, in the world at large.


How do we tap into this great store of knowledge? I believe the depth of our access is in proportion to the degree of silence and stillness we are able to reach in our mind-body complex. This is when our most private, most reflective, non-self-conscious, selfless creative moments emerge. We reach this in a context of being among other people on similar paths. In silence, we tune in with our personal wi-fi.  We also tap into this store of knowledge working collectively with others whom we search for common ground. The complexity of our thoughts increases when we are working with others from other fields of knowledge, who have their own unique types of intelligence and work flows but with the same intensity of work ethic. This is what I call Cross Sector work.  This is a level up from trans-disciplinary collaborations. Cross sector working relationships are now common in the sciences and between the sciences and the arts. The scientists do the math and the artists convert these into visuals.


At ASU, the New American University over the last decade has created a growing number of programs, degrees, and research institutes exploring the big existential questions in various and particular ways, at all scales.  Their agendas are broad in scope yet focused on the most pressing problems of Humanity. This work requires cross sector collaborations and a high degree of open mindedness in order to find unconventional and perhaps seemingly impossible connections between radically different ways of perceiving, thinking and making.


The one area still to be reconsidered is the nature and performance of the Architecture that houses these programs and institutes, their proximity to one another and their spatial connectivity. ASU campus is no longer appropriate or workable to leverage the potential of this new conception of teaching and learning. The old 20th century model of Campus planning and Architecture driven by expediency is outmoded.  We will explore new alternatives. 


We will explore and develop new organizational models that may be more conducive to these new research, teaching and learning models.  We will program and design a flexible prototype for cross sector work – the forth coming Herberger Studios for Learning Futures on the ASU West Campus.  Imagine a place on campus where advanced thinking and research is underway and imaging how these discreet physical silos are virtually and physically connected and then imagine the basis for Connecting the Dots for Cross Sector Work to begin, based on the principles of the New American University.


This is education at its best. We must work through an unconventional creative process that will push our imagination beyond its’ current limits if we are to create an architectural equivalent. The old model of an architecture driven by expediency and convenience leads to outdated preconceived models of architecture and urbanism. In this studio we will challenge existing conventions and explore new alternatives creating new visions for Architecture, that build upon the lessons of rain forests, termite mounds, beehives, virtual and physical networks, and their evolving intersections.


“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.  Willing is not enough; we must do”

     Leonardo da Vinci


The twenty first century is a time of faith and fear. The world you are about to inherit is different than the one you might have expected. Global scaled events, almost beyond comprehension, are triggering significant conceptual shifts in most aspects of the Human Enterprise. The good news, you can invent the life practice you choose, perhaps one that is more integrated, inclusive and speculative. To negotiate the fluidity of these changes successfully, models and practice protocols for teaching and learning will need to follow suit. They must be re-conceptualized and tested in real time to find new approaches that address a world where the unexpected is commonplace. A more open, and expansive mind will allow us to think in new ways. A synthetic mind will give us the confidence to make things that are surprisingly new. An effective pathway to achieve this is losing our fear of failure and making mistakes, similar to when we were children thinking of and making things for the first time. In a beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. We will also research and discuss the principles of cross-sector collaborations and how fast intelligence grows when in proximity to others. When true creative dialogue occurs, you may experience something quite wonderful, multiple bodies behaving as one mind.



1.  Relationship       –  the teacher enters the world of the student to learn and mentor.

2.  Speculation        –  it is possible to have a long term vision in a short cycle world.

3.  Approach           –  to mine game theory, design, and play as a model and metaphor.

4.  Objective           –  architectural redefined as a platform.

5.  Play                  –  this studio will be a safe zone for anyone willing to risk failure.

6.  Hybridity            –  a place for cross-sector imagination and integrated intelligences

7.  Architecture       –  stories from life can give form to Architecture


catalogue description

Advanced Architectural Studio IV (5 credit hours)

Topical design problems of advanced complexity, including interdisciplinary problems, reflecting a culminating synthesis of architectural ideas.   Pre-requisites: Master of Architecture student; ADE 621 with a C or better.



"All quality work is simply a continuous project altered daily."

     Robert Morris, The Writings of Robert Morris (1993).


Learning is defined as a process that brings together personal and environmental experiences and influences for acquiring, enriching or modifying one’s knowledge, skills, values, and world views. The twenty-first century is a world in constant change. We will pursue an understanding of how the forces of change, and emerging waves of interest associated with these forces, inspire and invite us to imagine a future of learning that is as powerful as it is optimistic.


Similar to exemplary architectural practice, this course is organized as a hands-on design studio, requiring collaborative participation by everyone daily in joint observation, analysis, and critical dialogue.  It is about raising probing questions and rigorously investigating them every day, thru deep thinking, envisioning, mapping and iterative making, rather than doing fragmentary last minute-work, or worse creating an un-synthesized “product” for a particular studio/client meeting.



“The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write,

but those who cannot learn, un-learn, and re-learn.”              

     Alvin Toffler, Future Shock 1970.


Burnett, Bill  Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life (New York: Knopf, 2017).



“You don’t create architecture, you discover it, through hard work”

     Glenn Murcutt


It is assumed that every student in this studio will take an active role in ensuring its quality. 


1. Professional practice

This studio will be run as a “professional office” simulating the intensity and environment of today’s premier architectural practices. This studio requires a minimum of 30 hours of homework per week (5 credits x 6 hours per credit/week), in addition to our scheduled class time two days a week. Please log in your daily hours for discussion. You are required to be in the studio every scheduled class meeting time and working for the entire class period. Following the policies of these exemplary offices, no tardiness, leaving early, errand running and/or scheduling other appointments will be allowed in this studio. Additionally a professional office atmosphere shall exist at all times with no cell phones, listening to music on iPods, loud conversation, and/or eating during class. So come prepared and fully equipped with the appropriate tools and materials each day for four hours of intense work.


2. Design projects

The common intention behind all the assignments in this studio is to explore ways of giving physical form to ideas. The assignments will focus on general topics presented through required readings and dialogues to provide a catalyst for the development and investigation of specific ideas in greater depth through the act of iterative envisioning, mapping and making. On a personal level, each assignment will require you to adopt a critical position toward the general topics presented, and construct a reflective self-generative method of envisioning, mapping, and critical making that will enable you to develop your insights and ideas into physical form appropriate to your design intentions. You should come to studio with all necessary investigations complete (including all digital models and drawings printed out prior to the start of any day’s class), and fully prepared to engage in a critical dialogue about your work, and its contribution to the larger studio investigations. In preparation for professional practice, all project deadlines will be un-announced, they will just happen, and the project can stop on any day. So stay prepared.


3. Directed research and readings

Directed research and readings are assigned to support and expand the ideas and issues evoked by your work.You should complete them in a timely manner, write a précis, and be fully prepared to have a dialogue about their implications on your newly revised project.


4. Critical dialogue and reviews

Our studio dialogues and reviews are directed towards establishing a critical discourse of the emerging issues, methods and investigations, enabling you to develop your own personal design ideology, theoretical framework, design process and architectural, landscape and urban design language.  Remember this is a collaborative dialogue, not a discussion, “it is essential that we think together and engage in dialogue.” As William Isaacs observes in his book Dialogue, “Discussion is about making a decision.  Unlike dialogue, which seeks to open possibilities and see new options, discussion seeks closure and completion. The word, “decide” means to “resolve difficulties by cutting through them.” Its roots literally mean to “murder the alternative.” Dialogue is about exploring the nature of choice. To choose is to select among alternatives. Dialogue is about provoking insight, which is a way of reordering our knowledge – particularly the taken for granted assumptions that people bring to the table.” Remember, dialogue and criticism are reflective, not personal. The word review comes from the Latin revidere “to see again" and is defined as a careful retrospective view or reflective survey of past events, experiences and work that examines their significance and implications for further extension.  


"To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often."

     Sir Winston Churchill


1. Sketchbook with daily entries for each day of this semester (105 days = minimum 105 entries)

You will be required to keep a hardbound sketchbook this semester (i.e. Moleskine Folio Sketchbook, A4, Plain, Black, 8.25 x 11.75; or approved equal). Every preeminent architect internationally carries a sketchbook everyday, everywhere, ensuring that no spontaneous idea, observation, thought or reference will be lost. Your sketchbook will clearly document each day’s major design developments in both hand drawn sketches and reflective analytical text notes for all 105 days of studio, without exception. Your sketchbook will be discussed at every desk crit and pinup, and is due at your exit interview and will be returned to you.


2. Summary documentation: Flash drive with all your projects, their daily evolution and final work produced

You are also required to submit on a flash drive all of your projects, their daily evolution and the final representational media (all drawings, models, power point presentations, video clips, text, etc.). On the drive, each individual project file must be labeled with your name, the name of the project and the date completed. The flash drive is due at your exit interview and it will become the property of the professor for use at the next NAAB accreditation review.


3. Design Excellence and the Faculty Review of the Studio’s Work

Each semester the entire faculty of The Design School meet to review all the studio work produced in the School, to insure its content and quality are commiserate with our high academic and professional standards. Our studio will select 3 projects for the Design Excellence display in the Gallery. Each selected student will then prepare one 24” x 72” full color print (vertical format) that re-presents the essential parts of your final review presentation graphics (please follow the Design School exhibit poster requirements). Please include on the panel a 50 word description of your project, and be sure to include your name and studio professor. You may also bring selected models/mock ups of your work that fit in your allotted 24” wide band. If your work is selected, please submit by the required deadline/s.


4. Summary consultation: Exit Interview

You are required to meet individually with your professor at the end of the semester to review the overall trajectory of your work and identify areas of personal enrichment and/or refinement in the near future.Please bring the following FOUR items to your meeting:

1) a one page printed summary of the strengths and weakness of your semester's work, and proposed final studio grade. 2) your sketchbook, and 3) your flash drive of all your projects their evolution and final work produced. All exit interviews will occur following our final review.


5. Outside Employment during the Semester

History has proven that individuals, who dedicate themselves 100% to their graduate study during their short time at the University, not only achieve academic excellence, but also excel later on with professional excellence and higher salaried positions. Therefore, The Design School’s Faculty UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS THAT EACH STUDENT REFRAIN FROM OUTSIDE EMPLOYMENT DURING THE SEMESTER. In the event of financial hardship, and the need arises that you must work outside, please contact your professor immediately, and fill out the authorization form for outside employment. Always only seek employment with a licensed professional and limit your hours to a MAXIMUM OF TEN hours per week.


6. End of Semester Studio Clean up

At the end of the semester, each student is expected to leave their studio workspace as they found it on the first day of class.  Please remove all your belongings and dispose of all trash in the appropriate recycling bins or the large dumpster in the west parking area.  If this is not done, you will be charged a fee for hiring someone to clean up your workspace, and/or to replace any missing or damaged furniture.

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