Report on integrated practice


Introduction and abstracts

Michael Broshar FAIA AIA

Norman Strong FAIA AIA

Daniel S. Friedman FAIA


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My aim in this introduction is to briefly sketch three related developments that suggest fundamental changes in the

ways we might soon teach and practice: first, the widening influence of contemporary theory on building composition; second, the proliferation of pedagogies that dissolve professional or disciplinary distinctions based on scale; and third, the shift from linear perspective to virtual modeling and its impact on the relation between the logic of representation and the logic of construction. A fourth development arguably might be the global economy, but for the moment let digital equalization of distance and geography stand as background.

The first development involves a shift in emphasis from static to dynamic form. Deeper, more precise understandings of time and movement suggest the radical transition from plane and solid geometry to morphogenesis. Complex systems have effectively displaced classical proportion and order as the basis of formal experimentation. In this new compositional vocabulary, ‘field’ supersedes ‘figure’,‘ event’ supersedes ‘object’, ‘vector’ supersedes ‘axis’. Such terms derive in part from the analysis of ecology and landscape, intricate systems that “escape definitive control or closure” and “address the complexity of loosely structured organizations that grow and change with time” (Allen and Corner 2003). Design pedagogies that use animation software to stimulate the exploration of dynamic form are increasingly commonplace. Most of these pedagogies stage formal exploration within a theoretical framework heavily influenced by the contemporary avant-garde, trailed closely by the popular press, which regularly showcases heterodox digital composition.

The second development results from the confluence of these new theories of form with the ever-widening discourse on sustainability. Energy conservation and sustainable technologies nowadays influence policy in both the marketplace and the university. ‘Green’ research extends sustainable principles through the transfer and adaptation of manufacturing technologies from the automotive and aerospace industries to building construction (Kieran and Timberlake 2004). One characteristic of the overlapping pedagogies that exercise these discourses is increasing sensitivity to the behavior and interdependency of dynamic networks across multiple scales of production. Distinctions between small, medium, and large are therefore increasingly difficult to maintain or enforce, both within and outside the academy.

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