Spring 2018 Electives

Elective Courses available:


ARCH4020.01 / Bedford Seminar: Advanced Building Structures (Civil)

This interdisciplinary seminar consists of students from both the School of Architecture and Civil Engineering department. Presentation of a variety of structural typologies bears direct relation to practical experience and the necessity for constructive interdisciplinary discourse. Specific structural typologies are examined through historic and contemporary project examples that are critically deconstructed and critically analyzed with respect to their basic engineering principles and architectural concepts. Students will be exposed to the collaborative methods inherent within the architect/engineer relationship. The course consists of lectures concerning each topic, case studies and presentations of relevant projects, an interdisciplinary design project and discussion of the projects and presentations with respect to interdisciplinary discourse. Content and delivery may vary by instructor. W 12-1:50. Cr. 3. Taught with CIVL4020. Prerequisite: Arch2230 Structures 1.

ARCH4170.80 / Environmental Parametrics taught w/6380

The work of this course sets out to describe the meaning, values, and methods of using parametric techniques as both an analytical tool and a generative device in comprehensive performance-based building design.  The students learn techniques to set-up feedback between analysis and tactical response in performance-based design while also situating these techniques within the broader discourse and methodology of fostering design ecologies and creating ecologies of design as they relate to the construction of the built environment and contemporary issues of sustainability. Demetrios Comodromos. Cr 2. CASE in NYC.

ARCH4850.01 / Architectural Acoustics 2

In the spring semester, students will have the opportunity to design their own performance hall. This process will include continued studies of acoustics measurements, simulated sound fields, community noise issues, and professional practice in acoustics consulting. The course will also have detailed lectures on concert hall acoustics, sound quality, and synthesized sound fields. Students will be introduced to a variety of simulation software and measurement equipment in the Acoustics Research Laboratory. After both Architectural Acoustics 1 and 2, the student should be prepared for a basic entry-level position in either acoustics in architecture or in acoustical consulting. Prerequisite: ARCH4840 or instructor approval. Todd Brooks. F 10–1:50 pm.  Cr 4.

ARCH4880.01 / Aural Architecture w/6890

In this course, design processes in architectural acoustics will be studied from a psychoacoustical perspective. Different concepts to create physical and virtual acoustic spaces will be discussed based on perceptual design goals. Topics include ecological psychoacoustics, sound quality, auditory virtual environments, and auditory computational modeling. Jonas Braasch. T 1- 3:50 pm.  Cr 3.

ARCH4956.01 / Contemporary Furniture Design

This course provides a platform, in the form of furniture, to execute and deploy digital design, material and engineering principles at full scale. It will be conducted as a seminar and workshop and will introduce design methodologies that are unique to product design through the process of designing a chair. The course will engage in many of the considerations that are affiliated with CAD/CAM production; material optimization and human factors. Students will conduct research into industrial design processes, found especially in the automotive, aviation and maritime industries, and will adapt these processes into techniques to design a prototype for limited production. Instruction will include: the full scale production of a prototype, its detailing; Color/Material/Finishes (CMF), design for Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), and the possibility of mass customization. This course also includes a field-trip to Knoll manufacturing in Pennsylvania. Rhett Russo. R 10:00 – 11:50. Cr. 2.

ARCH4957.01 / Structural Anatomy of Buildings (through case studies)

This course will offer students a foundation and familiarity with the use of structural systems through various case studies and examples. Each case study will be presented holistically and then deconstructed and analyzed to determine structural systems used and the reasoning behind the selection. Through structural investigation, students will peel away the design and actively calculate loads and forces while discussing the possibility of modifying existing structures. Dominick Pilla. T 4-5:50 pm. Cr. 2.

ARCH4958.01 / Projecting Light

The relationship between light, projective geometry and drawing existed since antiquity. Different aspects of light are examined in mini-labs through their literary origins parallel to physical and optical explorations with light. The concluding project is a light construction that explores a thesis about projection in physical form. Yael Erel. W 10 – 11:50. Cr. 2.

ARCH4959.01 / PIP Performance Planning Seminar

The Production Installation Performance (PIP) Studio is an interdisciplinary studio linking Architecture and Arts with an invited artist to produce a public performance. This seminar will do the initial groundwork and conceptualization in collaboration with faculty and the invited artist Andrea Polli, Professor of Art and Ecology at the University of New Mexico. Ted Krueger. W 10 – 11:50 am. Cr. 2.

ARCH4960.01 / Contemporary Enclosure Design

This course introduces students to the technical design of building enclosures. Students undertake an enclosure design project that evolves as the design intent is inflected by considerations of materiality, system typology, structural and environmental performance, and constructability. Through lectures, seminars, and workshops, students are introduced to the tools and methods of performance-based design, along with the technical documents and standards that define performance criteria. The execution of custom facades will be considered, along with the role of contract documents in ensuring a positive outcome that meets the design intent. Gabrielle Brainard. R 10 – 11:50. Cr. 2. Note Architecture students 4th and 5th year.

ARCH4961.01 / Interfaces and Virtual Worlds

The seminar looks into theories of architecture and representation that relate to the creation of immersive spaces, interfaces, interactive spaces and virtual structures. Classes and final projects will take place at the CRAIVE lab. Students will produce final projects to experience in the space. CRAIVE lab is a 360 digital projection room located in the RPI Tech Park. The room consists of of a surface of projection for 8  projectors, and a surrounding array of speakers. Carla Leitao. F 12-1:50. Cr. 2.

ARCH4963.01 / Influence of Islam

Architecture mediates our body with the environment. It describes the way we understand our position in the world and how we perform within it. Light –and materiality- intrinsically attached to the spatial experience, is able to affect, transform and stimulate not only our visual, but our mental and bodily perception of things. As designers, we must understand the specificities of a given ambience, its affects and mechanisms to cultivate a formal precision necessary to reproduce concrete experiences that we might be looking for.How can we use light, an intangible matter, as building material? How color, form and texture affect the ways light is diffused, reflected or aggregated? In other words, how they condition its different manifestations in relation to space? This seminar intends to refine our ways of seeing. It engages with the phenomenological and will compare different artifacts, buildings, and expressions that gravitate through these questions with independence of the time and location they were created.

Elena Perez-Guembe. R 10 – 11:50 am. Cr. 2.

ARCH4964.01 / Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures’ seminar explores the back and forth process where detailed three-dimensional form is used to generate figural two-dimensional geometry. We will look at objects with delineated volumes and transform these into flattened instruments through digital manipulation and techniques of image capturing. Through the course of the class we will investigate representation and fabrication techniques, a cross-over between art and architecture, through the configuration of a classical bust. William Virgil. F 12-1:50. Cr. 2

ARCH4965.01 / Veiled Assemblages

“Veiled Assemblages” will focus on machined parts, joinery and projective geometry. Studying and examining a series of projections of image/graphic in conjunction with wrapping/draping, this seminar will explore the ability to visually augment objects to produce visual misconceptions. Compositing discrete objects with projection with draping, our intention will be to redefine corners, seams and other geometric transition creating both unity and/or schisms in a final assemblage of multiple objects. It will include readings and historic precedents that will relate to the contemporary discipline and discourse.  We will study in depth the fold, extrusion, projection, wrapping and draping to composite a series of parts that will combine the 2d image with the 3d object. Brian DeLuna. F 12-1:50 pm. Cr. 2.

ARCH4966.01 / The Man Next Door: Alfred Hitchcock  and the Architecture of Fear

This seminar explores the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock via the urban condition. The narrative structures of Hitchcock’s films often move the characters from pastoral settings to urban contexts, and vice versa. These allegories track naive or innocent characters as they move into self awareness, a transition always reflected in the costumes, music, lighting, editing and direction. Famously averse to shooting on location, Hitchcock invented and refined techniques for controlling shifts in scale, perspective and space – all part of his reliance on the studio for a kind of ‘world building’. For example, as a way to save on location costs, Hitchcock developed back-lit film transparencies at the scale of architecture. His techniques of sonic and visual abstraction, defamiliarization, continuous takes, color saturation and disorienting perspectives all have analogs in the operations of the modern city. His themes of voyeurism, doubling, mistaken identity and paranoia are hallmarks of the modern human condition. He made the first film to address psychoanalysis as a subject (Spellbound, 1945), shot an entire film on one set (Lifeboat, 1944), and his dark comedy Frenzy (1972) looked at the urban phenomenon of serial murder. From the 39 Steps to Rear Window to Psycho, Hitchcock torqued the city grid as a symbol for both freedom (anonymity), oppression and chaos. The Master of Suspense has also been seen as a misogynist, sadist, humorist and cultural critic. We will critically engage his works via screenings, writing and our own attempts at storyboarding and set design. Michael Oatman. M 7 – 9:50 pm. Cr. 2.

ARCH4967.01 / Digital Materialism: Robotic Fabrication with Wood

This research seminar will examine the intersection of next generation digital tooling and the use of robotic workflows in fabrication in cutting, shaping with the goal of establishing architectural processes and new applications in the use of the traditional material, wood.  Students will work in groups to develop customized tool path designs using the Autodesk Powermill software suite. The seminar will include analysis of traditional wood construction techniques as a basis for establishing new methods. The final requirements of the seminar will include the production of multiple prototypes, establish tool patching protocols and representations new methodologies. Lonn Combs. R 10 – 11:50. Cr. 2.

ARCH4968.01 / Creativity versus Responsibility Discussions about Now and Future

Based on the theory of Universal Darwinism we will analyze competition of main forces of our universe: biological, cultural and technological. We will study possible scenarios: Optimistic: “Evolution moves toward greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love” (Ray Kurzweil in “The Singularity is Near”). And scenarios full of anxiety and fear: “Horrors that recently seemed like science fiction are routinely exceeded. Even in the face of such disasters, no agreement is being reached to slow down or stop the spread of these technologies. Humans seem helpless before the onslaught” (Bill Joy in “Radical Evolution” by Joel Garreau). In this context we will discuss changes that take place in architecture: shifting from forms to processes and increasing interest in biological controlled systems that open many ethical questions. Zbigniew Oksiuta. R 12 – 1:50. Cr. 2

ARCH4969.01 / The Arch of the Screen: Relationships Between Film and Architecture

While architecture is one of the oldest forms of cultural expression, film, by comparison is one of the youngest. Although seemingly at odds with one another, due to the physicality of architecture, and the image based condition of film, architecture has learned a great deal from the expressive capacities of film. In this seminar we will study the manner in which certain filmmakers have captured the physical environment in dynamic and provocative ways. Anthony Titus. R 10 – 11:50 am. Cr. 2.


CIVL4450.01 / Conceptual Structures Systems

This course covers concept of structural systems. The course is aimed to understanding of behavior of different structural systems and how they respond to various loading conditions. The concept of load transfer, shaping and form finding is of particular interest. This concept is reinforced through analytical, digital, and physical modeling intended to foster intuitive thinking. The course includes the following: approximate analyses of statically indeterminate beams, rigid frames, and vierendeel frames; cable suspended structures, arch supported structures; masonry structures, space frame and folded plate structures; spherical, cylindrical, and hyperbolic shells; net and tent structures; air-supported and air-inflated structures, and hybrid structural systems. The course includes guest lectures, project, and testing of physical models.  Dominick Pilla.  T 6-9. Cr. 3. Prerequisites:  CIVL 2670 Introduction to Structural Engineering or ARCH equivalent.

LGHT.6760 / 4760.01 (4xxx w/be added to CHS soon) Lighting Workshop

The Lighting Workshop is a research and design studio integrating scholarship, technology, design, policy, and communication in an intensive, project specific context. The course includes a number of topics, selected each year by faculty. These topics are selected to emphasize scholarship; require a variety of written and verbal presentation techniques; increase synthesizing skills in design, applications, and visualization software; and require teamwork and individual efforts. The Lighting Workshop emphasizes studio and seminar work supplemented with lecture, class discussions, and individual and group research, design, writing, and reading assignments. Nadarajah Narendran. TF 12:30 – 3:20. Cr. 4.

LGHT6770/4870 (4xx w/be added to CHS soon) Light and Health

This course will explore the effects of light and lighting on people’s physical and psychological health and well-being. Lectures will focus on the physiology of the visual and circadian systems, the relationship between lighting and visual performance and circadian photobiology, including the relationship between lighting and Alzheimer’s disease, sleep disorder, alertness, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and breast cancer. The course will conclude with a research project studying the interaction of light and human health in the built environment. Students will learn to apply their newly acquired knowledge of the health effects of light to lighting design and application. Mariana Figueiro. MR 10 – 11:50. Cr. 4.



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Evan Douglis, Professor


School of Architecture
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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