Episode 11: The State of Architectural Education
radioIA Episode 11 features Thomas Leslie, AIA, Pickard Chilton professor of architecture at Iowa State University, and his views on architectural education, professional practice, technology, and what the future holds.
What is different now from when you started your architectural career?
It’s been a time of interesting change for architecture education. When I started, classrooms only had a few computers. Today, students often have both a desktop and a laptop to use concurrently.
- What the architectural accreditation board requires has changed significantly in last few years: We are a broad profession and increasingly, as educators, we need to prepare designers with a broad understanding that they will be facilitators, in addition to specialists.
How is technology factoring in?
Technology has been a game changer every three or four years. When Revit first came into studios—just like in professional practice—we weren’t sure what to make of it. But students start to figure it out on their own. We, as educators, are typically not going into class with Google Cardboard, or Grasshopper routines. Digital advances usually bubble up.
How is architectural education changing?
One fun thing is to work with faculty and students from another discipline, like engineers, urban designers, interior designers, landscape architects. We want to expose students to different value systems; that understanding of how big design can be as a practice so enriching. We realize we share a lot of the same values and processes but have subtly different ways of thinking about things. It’s a great education approach.
What are firms looking for in a new graduate?
They don’t care how well a student knows Rhino or Revit, because the tools will change inevitably. We want to educate students with a curious mind, who have a disciplined approach looking at problems from various perspectives.
Connect with Tom on his blog Architecture Farm to stay up-to-date on his latest building technologies research, and his list of published books. Most recently he published Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871 to 1934.