Final Project

ARCH 4980

Final Project: Directed Research Sequence

2013-14 Final Project Sections:

Awards Review Guest Critics: Lydya Kallipoliti (Syracuse University, ANAcycle) – Ed Keller (Parsons The New School of Design, AUM Studio) – David Ruy (Pratt Institute, Ruy Klein) – Lars Spuybroek (Georgia Institute of Technolgy, NOX).
Assessment Committee: Lonn CombsRalph GhocheZbigniew OksiutaAndrew Saunders
(*) Final Project Coordinator


The education of an architect is comprised of an ecology of interests acquired over many years to adequately prepare the students to move forward as leaders in the profession. Once they arrive in their final year (referred to as ‘Final Project’ here at Rensselaer) students are confronted with the unique opportunity to assert their unique vision of architecture more forcefully into the world. It’s an extraordinary moment for the students where years of exploration and discovery are finally channeled in the most creative and rigorous way to respond to a series of larger societal, cultural, environmental, technological and design challenges specific to our time.

The selection of Final Project work presented in the Awards Review represents as a collective body of work: the power of an inquisitive mind, the profound value of research, the importance of innovative design and timeless role of architecture as an agent for change.

I want to congratulate all of our Final Project students for their tremendous effort throughout this past year. The students selected for the Awards review deserve special recognition for their exemplary work. I also want to recognize the invaluable contribution of our FP faculty: Chris Perry (FP Coordinator), Gustavo Crembil, Carla Leitao, and Ted Ngai. Their pedagogical vision, hard work, and mentorship was critical for the success of the program.

Evan Douglis
Dean, Rensselaer School of Architecture


The Final Project course sequence enables fifth-year undergraduate students to design and develop an independent studio project over the course of two consecutive semesters. Designed to support directed research, the curriculum provides both conceptual and creative guidance while allowing students more autonomy than is typical of an advanced design studio.

Led by individual design critics, each studio section in Final Project provides students with a specific thematic framework through which to develop a semi-independent research and design proposal. While each studio section is markedly different from one another in terms of their designated thematic framework, they share a common interest in and reliance upon external disciplinary, technological, and cultural influences to inform the creative process of design and by extension, advance the discipline of architecture into new territories of exploration and discovery.

To this extent, the Final Project course sequence engages what might be thought of as an expanded field of design research, an interdisciplinary approach to architecture that seeks to situate the discipline within broader technological as well as cultural phenomena. Unlike fields of study that are specific in terms of disciplinary identity, architecture is unique in its ambiguous positioning between the arts and the sciences and it is this disciplinary blind spot that provides the discipline opportunities to engage other fields of knowledge and influence as a way of advancing itself in the world.

In the fall semester of Final Project students concentrate principally on research, site selection, and schematic design.  In the spring semester, the focus shifts to design development, with the expectation that the fall semester’s research and preliminary design work will be utilized as a platform for the production of fully resolved architectural proposals. In this way, the two-semester curriculum provides students and faculty a unique opportunity to engage in advanced research and design in a way not possible given the time constraints of a typical semester-long studio. 

Chris Perry
Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Final Project

2012-13 Final Project Sections:

2011-12 Final Project Sections:


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Evan Douglis, Professor


School of Architecture
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