Practice + Leadership - Elizabeth Martin-Malikian

Is Doing Architecture Doing Research?

Elizabeth Martin-Malikian, Kennesaw State University


The Thesis is the last major step toward graduation with a first professional degree. It provides an opportunity for the student to systematically explore a coherent line of investigation. The Thesis demands that a student take a position and have something to say that is relevant to the discursive field that it inhabits and/or its wider cultural context. The learning objective for ARCH-5016: Thesis Investigation is for student’s research to culminate in a Theorem that serves as the intellectual grounding of the work to be undertaken in Thesis Studio.

Within this framework, students are exposed to a holistic view of architectural practice including not only critical thinking skills, but also entrepreneurial, presentation, and marketing strategies. The course has been reformatted to actively engage with practitioners and creative thinkers by including a research workshop with invited critics; 3-minute thesis exercise to learn to verbally present an idea; roundtable discussion bringing open debate into the fold; and a culminating miniatures exhibition that together serve as a series of events for
students to be exposed to a variety of investigative methods and to understand that their thesis position needs to be aligned with the built environment, and therefore, it is not an isolated act.

The learning outcome is twofold where: 1.) students interface with scholars and practitioners to actively engage with the question: Is Doing Architecture Doing Research? and, 2.) faculty actively engage with the question: Is Doing Research Doing Architecture? to create a vehicle for the re-evaluation of pedagogy. Together the fall research roundtable, workshop,
exhibition and oral presentations become a way for students to engage in the question what is architectural research; as well as, a way to continually advanced the discussion of what architecture is and what architecture can be.