How Were the Participating Schools Selected?

The recent graduates from the six participating architecture schools, Cooper Union, Notre Dame, Penn State, Sci Arc, and Yale each approach the architectural design thesis using a wide range of ideologies and methods at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Each also provides a unique and rich culture in which to develop a design thesis.


At Cooper Union a small, international group of students complete a yearlong design thesis. Close ties with the art and engineering schools give added depth and meaning to their thesis work. A one-semester thesis group project is followed by individual investigation during the second semester. At Notre Dame undergraduate architecture students complete a semester long architectural thesis centered on a classical approach to design. A strong emphasis on urbanism is evident in the resulting thesis projects. Penn State is a rare example at the undergraduate level where students undergo a yearlong thesis project. The art of building through craft and making are highly valued attributes of the design thesis there. In their Los Angeles setting Sci Arc provides a diverse cultural laboratory in which to do thesis work. The resolution of ideas often is valued over the resolution of a building. After a fifteen year hiatus Yale recently re-introduced the design thesis for a select number of graduate students. Students are encouraged to seek multiple, outside voices within the university to bring richness and an added critical edge to their thesis work.


video Content and the Questions Posed

Recent graduates from the five participating architecture schools, Cooper Union, Notre Dame, Penn State, Sci Arc, and Yale, each approach the design thesis using a wide range of methods and ideologies at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Nine broad topic areas were used to probe these differences and to find commonalities. DEFINITION poses the question, what is the design thesis? RESEARCH concerns the methods used in architectural research. prep asks how to get ready for the design thesis. WORK is the day-to-day process of developing a design thesis. FANTASY+WHIMSY probes the origin of ideas and the role of originality in the design thesis. CULTURE is what makes each school unique in relation to their environment and values. ADVISORS considers the roles and expectations of design thesis faculty.VALUE concerns the educational benefits of doing a design thesis. REPRESENTATION looks at how thesis ideas are communicated through drawing and making.