Hunting Both Shadow and Substance: A Review of the 2004 NCARB Prize Winners

. . [A]rchitects who have aimed at acquiring manual skill without scholarship
have never been able to reach a position of authority to correspond to their pains,
while those who relied only upon theories and scholarship
were obviously hunting the shadow, not the substance.
But those who have a thorough knowledge of both . . .
have sooner attained their object and carried authority with them."
— Vitruvius

Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards recently honored Oklahoma State University as the grand prize winner in the 2004 NCARB Prize competition. Oklahoma State, along with five other architectural programs, was recognized during NCARB's Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, in late June. Now in its third year, the NCARB Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy continues to draw submissions from dozens of NAAB-accredited schools of architecture. In fact, since its inception in 2002, more than half of the NAAB programs have taken part in the competition.

Oklahoma State's 2004 NCARB Prize grand prize-winning entry, "Integrated/ Interactive/ Innovative: The Comprehensive Semester," showcases a long-term effort to unite the design studio with structural design issues, issues of environmental performance and controls, and project management.

Before an enthusiastic audience, former NCARB president Peter Steffian, FAIA, and Janet R. White, FAIA, chair of the 2004 Prize jury, presented Oklahoma State representatives Suzanne Bilbeisi, RA, associate professor, and Randy Seitsinger, AIA, head of the School of Architecture, with a $25,000 check. Bilbeisi is the program coordinator for OSU's Comprehensive Semester.

Five additional programs were honored as 2004 NCARB Prize winners, with each receiving $7,500. They are the California College of the Arts' Department of Architecture; Rice University's School of Architecture; the University of Kentucky's School of Architecture; the University of Miami's School of Architecture; and the University of Washington's Department of Architecture. The jury also awarded honorable mentions to the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston (a 2003 NCARB Prize winner) and an additional entry from the University of Kentucky.

A Brief History of the NCARB Prize
The NCARB Prize can be traced back to the groundbreaking and highly influential report, Building Community, written by Lee Mitgang and the late Ernest Boyer and published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1996. Building Community, also known as the Boyer report, was a call-to-action for all stakeholders in the architectural profession, with significant emphasis on educators and practitioners.

During the presidency of Peter Steffian (2000-2001), NCARB chose to respond to the Boyer report by creating an awards competition that would seek out and honor educational initiatives that, simply speaking, united classroom and office dynamics in unique and creative ways. In response, more than half of the accredited programs in architecture have taken part in the NCARB Prize, offering a wide-range of amazingly complex projects.

The 2004 NCARB Prize Winners

Each iteration of the Prize has brought another round of influential entries. What is perhaps most notable about the 2004 winners is their willingness to rethink the design studio model. Always malleable due to its dynamic nature, the design studio has become a vehicle for change, whether it is reaching out to a distressed neighborhood, establishing the multifaceted responsibilities of the professional office, pushing students toward higher expectations, or some combination thereof.

2004 NCARB Prize Grand Prize Winner: Oklahoma State University
"Integrated/ Interactive/ Innovative: The Comprehensive Semester"

Through its grand prize-winning Comprehensive Semester, Oklahoma State fully re-envisions the design studio. Built on the concepts of integration, interaction, and innovation, the Comprehensive Semester links structural design, environmental performance and controls, and project management in an intense, multi-faceted timeline. The OSU School of Architecture invests a significant amount of faculty resources in this program; five faculty members, representing diverse areas of expertise, commit their time and professional knowledge. Working with a senior coordinating faculty member, they must develop a design project where design, technology, and management issues can be addressed in a relatively short amount of time.

The fifth-year students who take part in this semester-long studio enroll in three highly integrated courses-studio, technology, and project management. They move through four phases: pre-schematic and schematic design; design development; design documentation/construction documents; and design documentation/ project portfolio.

At three points during the semester, a group of 50 practicing architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and code officials review student work and provide extensive oral and written feedback. Students then incorporate this feedback into their projects as they continue to perfect their work.

In its comments, the NCARB Prize jury explained that the Comprehensive Semester provides students with "a meaningful introduction to the culture of practice through both the project and the design process." Jurors also were pleased to note that the Semester emphasizes process over product. They praised the significant inclusion of a diverse group of design and allied professionals as well.

2004 NCARB Prize Winner: California College of the Arts
"Collaborative Teaching with Professional Mentorship"

A required course on integrated building systems is at the heart of the California College of the Arts' NCARB Prize-winning submission. Part of a building technology sequence for second-year architecture and interior design students, the course is built around a collaborative teaching partnership with a consulting engineering firm and professional mentors.

By introducing younger students to the complexities of building systems, the course helps them establish a firm base onto which future knowledge can be added. The collaborating teaching model comprises professional architects and engineers who demonstrate why technical requirements are integral to architectural design. Students study actual buildings and their respective systems, learning to dissect components and functions, analyze their behavior, and represent performance through diagrams. As an added twist, the professional mentors are original designers of the chosen buildings.

Among their comments, the NCARB Prize jury was pleased to see that younger students were introduced to concepts that will be useful in their later academic years. The jurors also noted that the integrated building systems course maximizes interaction between educators and practitioners. The CCA entry was recognized for its sustained level of accomplishment and its well-executed collaboration.

2004 NCARB Prize Winner: Rice University
"BW + RH (Rice Building Workshop + Project Row Houses)"

For nearly eight years, students taking part in the Rice Building Workshop, an elective course, have contributed to local revitalization projects. The Workshop is partnered with a local nonprofit, Project Row Houses (PRH), which is dedicated to revitalization efforts, historic preservation, community services, public art, and art education. PRH primarily works in an inner-city neighborhood rich in African-American traditions and cultures.

Spread over a sequence of semesters, the Workshop offers students great flexibility. They may enroll during consecutive semesters-seeing a project from beginning to end. Or they may choose certain semesters in which to participate. The Workshop is open to all students beyond their first year of education, as well. NCARB Prize jurors were pleased to highlight these characteristics of the Workshop.

The Workshop operates much like an office during the design and planning stages. Students meet with community clients in order to identify design concepts. In small groups, they then create solutions for the defined objectives. Next, practitioners, representing the allied design professions, tradespeople, and material suppliers provide feedback about the student-derived design solutions. Community representatives are able to respond to these revised solutions, after which their input is integrated into the final selection. Students must then prepare a budget for the project and begin fund-raising efforts. The process continues as students draw up construction documents, collect building materials data, and apply for city approvals and permits. Construction follows, with Saturdays designated as on-site workdays.

Given the scope and comprehensiveness of Workshop, it's not surprising to hear Associate Director Nonya Grenader, FAIA, explain, "The Workshop takes a broad view: a project is seen less as an object and more as a dynamic system that evolves and adapts over time to a changing environment."

In its comments, the NCARB Prize jury noted that the Workshop "has longevity, is evolved, and is institutionalized," characteristics the jurors like to see. The jury also noted that the comprehensiveness of this enterprise could inspire other programs to follow its lead. Finally, the jurors also made note of the Workshop's elegant graphic presentation for the competition.

2004 NCARB Winner: University of Kentucky
"The Comprehensive Project: A Practice Based Studio"

The Comprehensive Project is a continuously evolving capstone course that was first organized in 1999. By reconfiguring the traditional studio model, the Comprehensive Project creates an accelerated learning environment for students who are engaged in community-based projects. They are fully involved in the project-from the programming stage to schematic design and design development, with full documentation provided throughout the process.

Practicing architects lead the studio and its co-requisite, Building System Integration, with assistance from allied design professionals who share specific areas of expertise. This "team teaching-team learning" approach is purposely emphasized, for it imitates the professional office. The re-envisioned studio also offers many benefits to community, city, and state organizations that wish to investigate design ideas and their related issues (from cost, impact, and preservation to sustainability) in a risk-free environment.

In their efforts to demystify the studio experience for students, UK faculty explains, "Our job is to assist them to overcome these doubts [concerning technical ignorance]: to suggest lines of inquiry that will enable them to identify the numerous but finite constituent elements of space and structure appropriate to the project, and to lead them through steadily more self-confident explorations of their logical integration to jubilation in discovering the magical tectonic possibilities inherent in the detail design development."

The NCARB Prize jury was pleased to discover the distinctive characteristics of the Comprehensive Project. From its successful efforts to establish a comprehensive studio experience (as required by the National Architectural Accrediting Board) to blurring the lines between practitioner and educator to creating a lab-like design research center, the UK entry is a great model. The jurors also admired the program's emphasis on helping students understand materiality.

2004 NCARB Prize Winner: University of Miami
"Interdisciplinary Community Building: Strengthening a Neighborhood"

The University of Miami takes the concept of interdisciplinary work to a new level in its NCARB Prize-winning community outreach program. For more than five years, a diverse group of students, professors, and practitioners has pooled its resources in order to help a distressed neighborhood in the greater-Miami area. By concentrating on a community that faces both infrastructure challenges and cultural disinvestment, the program applies a holistic approach, addressing-and ultimately improving-both the built environment and the sociological environment.

Six UM schools and departments take part in this initiative: the schools of architecture, law, and medicine, and the departments of history, communications, and art and art history. Since the program's inception in 1999, more 270 students and 40 faculty members have contributed their time, vision, and expertise to this ongoing endeavor. Among the program's accomplishments, four-student designed homes have been built and a Neighborhood Conservation District Zoning Overlay for Main Street has been approved. This latter achievement is especially meaningful, as previously existing zoning and planning discrepancies have discouraged investment within the community.

The NCARB Prize jury noted that by approaching this community holistically, the program reiterates the "multifaceted context in which physical development may occur." Jurors were pleased to recognize the significant number of disciplines taking part in the initiative—an unusual characteristic that set it apart from other community outreach programs.

2004 NCARB Prize Winner: University of Washington
"Urban Acupuncture"

For nearly 16 years, Steve Badanes, a professor and the HSW Endowed Chair in the University of Washington's Department of Architecture, has been leading students through the Neighborhood Design/Build Studio. Along with fellow faculty member Damon Smith, Badanes and his students work with the City of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods (DON), which oversees a Matching Funds Program that emphasizes community redevelopment projects primarily based on community investment.

Both the UW studio and the DON were formed in 1988. Since then, the studio has contributed thousands of hours, mainly comprising design and construction efforts, on 15 Matching Funds projects. Students and faculty affiliated with the studio have also provided consulting on many others DON initiatives.

The Neighborhood Design/Build Studio rests on two primary principles: society as a whole is an architect's client and community outreach is a key component of education. By focusing on small-scale design projects, the studio emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration, teamwork, and community service in a hands-on, real-world environment. Badanes explains, "Architecture has always been a service profession, but it has traditionally served only those who can afford it. By working with clients who do not have access to architecture, students are exposed (often for the first time) to community outreach and the notion of all of society as our real clients."

Jurors were quick to note that the UW submission highlighted projects "rich in character and design quality." They also were pleased to recognize a program with longevity—that is, the studio is ongoing and does not end after an academic term. Students were consistently exposed to a variety of local neighborhoods and communities, another positive factor cited by the NCARB Prize jury.

2004 NCARB Prize Honorable Mentions
Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston ("The Borough Project")
University of Kentucky ("Breaking Ground: Partnership & Process as Design Strategy")

Members of the 2004 NCARB Prize Jury
The 2003-2004 Practice Education Task Force:
- Peter Steffian, FAIA, chair (Massachusetts)
- Janet R. White, FAIA, jury chair (Maryland)
- Alan W. T. Baldwin Jr., FAIA (North Carolina)
- C. Robert Campbell, FAIA (New Mexico)
- Barbara Sestak, AIA (Oregon)
- Michiel M. Bourdrez, AIA, NCARB staff liaison

Invited deans, chairs, and department heads:
- Dr. Daniel Doz, Head, Architecture and Art Department, Norwich University (Vermont)
- Bradford C. Grant, AIA, Chair, Department of Architecture, Hampton University (Virginia)
- Marleen Kay Davis, AIA, Dean, College of Architecture and Design, University of Tennessee
- Donna V. Robertson, AIA, Dean, College of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology
- Clark E. Llewellyn, AIA, Director, School of Architecture, Montana State University
- Roger Schluntz, FAIA, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico

PAST WINNERS OF THE NCARB PRIZE

(Grand Prize Winners are listed first.)

2003
University of Kansas: "Studio 804, Inc."
Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston: "Upper Concord Street Neighborhood"
Mississippi State University: "Dialogic reciprocity: Binding form making to practice in first-year design"
Pennsylvania State University/University of Washington: "American Indian Housing Initiative"
University of Maryland: "Building Connections . . . Building Practice"
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: "The Art of Integration/The Science of Building"

2002
University of Detroit Mercy: "Detroit Collaborative Design Center"
Arizona State University: "Stripscape: Pedestrian Amenities Along 7th Avenue"
Auburn University: "The Rural Studio"
Miami University: "Toward a More Mutual Partnership: Pushing the Boundaries of the Internet Studio"
North Carolina State University: "Case Studies"
University of Pennsylvania: "Master(s) Building 2010: Transfer Technologies in Architecture, Construction and Production"

An image of the 2004 NCARB Prize grand prize winners can be viewed [http://www.ncarb.org/newsclips/images/Oklahoma%20State%20University.jpg BROKEN LINK]. Pictured from left to right are OSU Professor Emeritus John H. Bryant, FAIA; former OSU students and Comprehensive Semester participants, Lauren McQuillen and Kyle Zerbey; Studio Coordinator and OSU Associate Professor, Suzanne Bilbeisi, RA; Peter Steffian, FAIA, former NCARB President (2001) and NCARB Prize Juror; Janet R. White, FAIA, NCARB Prize Jury Chair; and Michiel M. Bourdrez, AIA, NCARB staff liaison.

Look for the 2004 NCARB Prize Book in mid-September. To learn more about the upcoming 2005 NCARB Prize competition, contact NCARB's Education and International Services Directorate (202/879-0528).