Summer 2017

Course Description: This ten-week summer studio, which is supported by the school’s Center for Sustainable Development, will engage in field-based research through a public interest design process. Here you will work closely with our designated stakeholder for the semester. Using research, interviews, presentations and feedback the goal is to carefully listen, thoughtfully respond and sensitively develop a design where you develop a designbuild component that tests your overall design proposition. In addition to engaging the stakeholder, you will focus on complex living systems along the coastline of Texas where cultural and ecological systems often collide. Your research of this rich system will help you develop a critical place-based approach, one that regards the unique coastal landscape as a necessary driver.
This summer you will work the park rangers at Galveston Island State Park. The park is managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Because of its close proximity to Houston it’s is one of the most visited parks in Texas. Working through the environmental educator at the park you’re being asked to design and build a small environmental education shade pavilion on the bay side of the park, close to its kayak launch and bay side camping/RV area. The pavilion will be used as a starting point for eco-walks along the bay and its adjoining wetland areas. Many of those who will use your pavilion are youth groups from middle and high schools in the region who are there to experience the ecology of the park firsthand. Your design should accommodate thirty or so participants and situated toward the north to focus on the bay and wetlands. After your design has been reviewed and approved by your stakeholder you will build much of it on campus in modular sections. Once complete these will be shipped to the site and installed.
The work in your studio will be a balance of individually designed work with group development resulting in a design that each of you are invested in.. You’ll begin the semester by field-based investigations, stakeholder interviews and recordings intended to critically inform your design approach. As part of this, several field trips will take place during the semester—first to interact with the park rangers and staff to explore and then document the site. Once you’ve understood your stakeholder’s aspirations, you’ll develop your design ideas. As a means to nurture open dialogue throughout the design process you will be in frequent contact with your stakeholders (firsthand and through periodic Skype communication). After consensus has been reached on a design approach, you’ll your design (through construction drawings, mockups and details) culminating in the pavilion. In total, expect to spend 10-12 days on the coast toward the end of your ten-week semester to install your project. The stakeholder and school will help cover your travel and lodging expenses for the time you are away from campus.
Note: The PID studio is supported by a required five-week seminar during the first summer session that teaches skills in community engagement. The course is in conjunction with the work of the design studio. Students taking this PID advanced design studio are required to take the seminar.
Pedagogic Objectives: Through a public interest design approach nurture more diverse, vibrant and poetic ways to: 1) develop skills for engaging your stakeholder through field-based engagement; 2) recognize that each design is intrinsically part of and responsive to its larger social and environmental context; 3) explore and express the poetic found in materiality, the temporal, the project’s context and its larger environment; 4) implement that newfound understanding through an applied research approach of building what you designed.