Click on the thumbnail images to open the detailed project boards for the Arch542 case studies. In the viewer window, you can enlarge the boards as well as jump to the next or previous project.
This 3 credit Architecture seminar at Pennsylvania Stat University is available to graduate and upper level undergraduate students (so fifth year or fourth year students). The course is a regular offering in Fall semester you can plan ahead to work it into your academic plan. Fall is the perfect place for students who want to use the content and the forum of the course as a springboard to shape graduate or fifth year thesis thinking. Graduate students from across campus have typically enrolled.
The course builds on two underlying theories: Systems Theory and Game Theory. Systems Theory takes a trans-disciplinary approach (trans – meaning disciplines are changed or informed a bit as a result of interacting with one another). Systems Theory considers a system as a set of relational, interdependent or interacting functions. So systems theory is at the foundation of understanding any relational attributes involved in ecologies or communities, it explains the history of developments that are simultaneously economic and political, artificial, conjured, designed or naturally occurring. It investigates the principles of these complexities (or why and how things work the way they do – so why the shirt industry works better unregulated while the power grid needs regulation by state and national governments) and seeks to develop representative models that can be used to describe them.
Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that is typically associated with economics. However, game theory is used in virtually every other discipline today. Today, "game theory is a sort of umbrella or 'unified field' theory for the modeling of relational feedbacks, where 'social' is interpreted broadly as relational to an other, so includes human as well as non-human players (computers, social networks, conflicting irrational global entities, or rational biological occurrences – like disease spread).
Together these theories allow us to investigate the relational feedbacks between:
1) Environments we share in common and usually valued because that sharing induces possible shortage, scarcity or conflict – so could be jobs, affordable housing, monopolies, or social networks, men, women – consider post-war shortage of men and the impact on social structures such as marriage and family.
2) The institutions invested in those shared commons that develop social contracts and assign power, set the rules, laws, guidelines, and regulations for operating in community. This profoundly impacts:
3) Human individual or collective choice and consequence. As architects we often accept or develop a “program” based on inherited institutional settings and frameworks without understanding the power of their systems relations to design. Yet design can respond critically to these forces. Michael Pyatok, an architect in Oakland, California, for example, radicalized mixed-use development by designing housing with a second income producing leasable space to encourage young professionals to live in otherwise unaffordable neighborhoods in San Francisco. Students have used the seminar to investigate a range of topics such as the social security system and its core involvement in politicizing immigrant issues in the US, public housing regulations impacting land use development across the European Union, how the clean and green tax law contributes to developer mc-mansions, alternatives to tax increment financing and the economic cleansing of student housing in downtown State College. Students learn to innovate for design with relational systems thinking and feedback game theory in this seminar.
We use one text by Elinor Ostrom, a social scientist and game theorist, as well as an array of readings, media and selected documentaries. Students build case study research. It’s often possible to take large or small components of a thesis topic to build the case study.