Working Out: Thinking While Building: Paper Proceedings

Design-Build as Extension: Looking In and Out to Determine the “Why, How and What” of University of Miami’s Design-Build Program

Fall Conference Proceedings

Author(s): Rocco Ceo

Building in the visitor camp of Flamingo is rough. Mosquitos, “no-see-ums,” pythons (reality not myth) and the heat and humidity, are all cause for reflection if not resignation. On the southern tip of Everglades National Park our latest Design/Build project tested our resolve and principals. We needed to erect in two days what we spent many weeks building on campus. The long commute (45 minute drive from the park entrance alone) and the extreme conditions tested our notion of modularity in constructing an off-the-grid Eco-tent for four people. The view from the site was inspirational but we soon also looked inward, reflecting upon what we were doing and whether our mission justified this trip to the extreme south. A new Design/Build Program, now in its fifth year, has focused on modular, prototypical projects mostly for not-for-profits. Our mission has been well received, and our projects continue to be supported by generous contributions from the community. Success of the program has even meant we now have funds to build our own Design/Build studio making permanent what was initially just about expanding our student’s curricular experience. The possibility of now having a permanent place for our efforts is cause for reflection into our mission (looking in) and how we might accomplish it (looking out). This paper reviews the work to date of a new Design/Build program on the threshold of being a permanent part of a school’s curriculum. Riding the winds of student interest in building and digital fabrication it is time to ask a few questions about how, and what we are doing. Individual gratification by both faculty and student was initially enough to forge ahead with design/build, but we are increasingly facing a number of issues that test this trajectory. Inspired by our own Design/Build work and now the impending construction of our own Design/Build Studio building, this paper seeks to bring to the conference a series of questions that may assist in building a dialogue about what might be the central questions guiding Design/build as a growing factor in architectural education.1. Local, regional, national or global – what makes sense as a focus for a program?2. Is project size, duration, a question of funding, curriculum or ideology?3. What is Design/Build, community outreach, scholarly research or both, and how do you make a case for it as scholarship in a research institution.In addition to showing the work of the program the presentation hopes to build a case for design/Build work as scholarship not just service learning. The form of our new Design/Build studio building is setting our mission in the academy by showing how systematic investigations into modular, prototypical construction leads to learning and knowledge that feeds both the school and the discipline.

Volume Editors
Sergio Palleroni, Ted Cavanagh & Ursula Hartig