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Provost's Imagine Fund for Arts and Humanities

Research Practices: Understanding the Role of Research in Designing and Building Architecture

In the building industry almost every project is one-of-a-kind - having a unique site and client with configurations of materials or layouts that are specific and particular. Each building is a dead-end prototype having limited benefit from lessons learned in previous work and not intended to lead to improved outcomes for future projects. The industry needs a research culture that links knowledge gained to knowledge applied. As an educator, I can support the creation of this culture by demonstrating the role of research in design and building practices and teach my students how to implement research when they enter the industry.

Many architectural design and construction firms will claim to do research but few develop a research trajectory and culture of research. Ideally research in practice is interdisciplinary ヨ with expertise in a range of technical, aesthetic, material and social issues ヨ using a range of research methodologies. Documentation of research is too often marketing-oriented and not useful for students or others seeking to understand the methods, goals and testing used in actual practice. Through my previous work with the building industry, I have identified eight architectural and construction firms (four locally based and four on East Coast) that are known for having a strong research culture. I propose to interview key people in those firms to inform my teaching and advance my expertise on research in practice. Future work would include interviews with firms based in EU and Asia. Outcome of this work will be articles, presentations and possible book proposal.

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Twin Cities