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New Frontiers in Research and Pedagogy: Collaborative Approaches in Architectural Education

May 8, 2012
Barbara Opar, column editor

The Association of Architecture School Librarians held a second special focus session at the 2012 Boston meeting. This session examined ways in which faculty and librarians have collaborated to explore innovative approaches to the development of writing, research and design skills.

Gilda Santana from the University of Miami spoke to her work as a studio-embedded librarian. Gilda  works  directly with students in the design studio, instructing and assisting them in research at the point of use. Her presence in the design studio has helped to diminish the boundaries between the library and studio as well as to reinforce the concept of the library and librarian as design resources. Students see the relationship between research and design and have easy and direct access to an on-site librarian.

Research and design skills can also be impacted by new kind of tools being offered by certain libraries. To that end, Amy Trendler spoke to Ball State University’s Building Samples Collection. Amy noted the importance of collaboration in shaping the collection and tailoring its content and organization to meet the needs of patrons.

Heather McCann of MIT then described GIS Services at her institution. Architecture students  work with GIS tools and resources to find data, create base maps, explore demographics and terrain data and learn how to export this information into CAD and Adobe Illustrator. Faculty can request additional more targeted  training sessions to meet the needs of their specific classes.

Stacy Brinkman, the Art/Architecture Librarian at Miami University and Diane Fellows, Associate Professor presented an overview of their multi-year collaboration in terms of information literacy. Information literacy goals have been integrated into course learning objectives in the M. Arch pre-thesis  seminar. Concepts such as audience, authority, methodology, and different ways of evaluating information are embedded into writing assignments. Professor Fellows described how the use of methods already familiar to the architecture student- such as the sketch notebook, hand drawings, and even visual posters – have been  utilized  as concept generators to help explore the connection between visual thinking and the art of writing.

From reference and instruction to collection building, collaboration between faculty and librarians can take many shapes.  Each, however,  can help further the architectural education process.   

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