Course Exam—ADST 200

Architectural Design Studio, otherwise known as ADST 200 (Foundations of Design 1), is a three-credit introductory architecture course that explores the creative design process through a series of composition, abstraction, and design projects.  The overall aim for this course is to familiarize students with the creative application of sound analytical skills, imaginative conceptual thinking, and form making abilities.  ADST 200 has no prerequisites and it is intended for students enrolled in the BSc Architecture program at the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University, though any student that is interested in this course is welcome to enroll.

The delivery mode for this course is different than most courses that are offered at AU.  ADST 200 is offered as a group study (five to ten students and a studio coordinator) that takes place over a thirteen-week period.  Students enrolled are required to attend one three-hour evening video teleconference session per week and participation in discussions and sharing of resources will contribute to your overall grade (five marks per project)! The people who are in your group study at the beginning will be the same people you meet with throughout the entire thirteen weeks.

Students should note that this course is currently only offered in February and in September, so if you are interested in this course, then you may want to consider enrolling in it for this September! Though, speaking with Dr.  Douglas MacLeod, he stated that they are trying to change the February start date to January and they are hoping to add a summer studio as well if there is enough interest!

Foundations of Design 1 is comprised of four primary learning objectives (comprehend, analyze, apply basic design, and apply group practice strategies) and five projects.  There is a midterm presentation, though it is not weighted, and there is no final exam for this course.  The midterm will require you to present the work that you did in projects one and two.  The five projects have students designing in two dimension (2D) and then translating their 2D work into the third dimension (3D) and they do have due dates.  Project one is due week two and weighs fifteen percent, project two is due in week four and weighs fifteen percent, project three is due in week seven and weighs thirty percent, project four is due in week ten and weighs thirty percent, and project five is due in week thirteen and weighs ten percent.  To submit your projects, you will be required to scan your work and submit them to your academic experts, so make sure you have access to a scanner prior to enrolling!

Students should also note that all the tools and equipment that you will need to complete the projects must be supplied by you.  Most of them are common household objects, though there may be a few items that you will need to purchase.  Regardless, all of the items are commonly required for more advanced architecture courses, so they will get used! The list includes a camera (your camera on your smartphone is sufficient), specific drawing paper, a specific sketchbook, card stock, trace paper, pens, pencils, colored markers and/or pencil crayons, a compass, protractor, ruler, drawing board, clear plastic sheeting, a self-healing cutting mat, a metal-edge cork-back ruler, a stainless-steel knife, masking tape or painter’s tape, white glue, and a modeling set square.  It is asked that you do not use a computer when preparing your projects as hand drawing and modeling skills are essential skills for the development of an architect.

Dr. Douglas MacLeod has been working at Athabasca University since October 1st, 2012.  He has been the Chair of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada for Architecture at Athabasca University for six years and he is currently coordinating twenty courses.  The twenty courses that he coordinates includes the Architecture history, theory, and design studios courses and he has been coordinating ADST 200 for about three years.  He is a registered architect in the state of California and holds four degrees, which include a Bachelor of Architecture, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Masters in Environmental Design, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Design.

He states, “The ADST stream are all design studios.  They start out with the fundamentals of design and they work the students through with progressively more complex projects, so students are designing very large-scale buildings, such as recreational or cultural institutions.  Then in the final studio, students will be able to define their own project.”

Dr. MacLeod, continues “For somebody wanting to explore design, say just at the start of their studies, I highly recommend ADST 200.  There are no prerequisites required, so you can come in, get your hands dirty and your feet wet and really understand if a career in design might be of interest to you! We deliberately made it so that students do not have to be enrolled into the Bachelor of Architecture to take this course.  We wanted to give students the opportunity to explore careers in design.”

When asked to describe the structure of the projects, he states “I want to caution everybody, you will be working a lot with your hands! You will be drawing and building your models all by hand, so if you have not done that before, you will not be thrilled by the results; nonetheless, it is an incredibly valuable set of skills to start developing.  Students will be creating 2D drawings on paper and then you are going to be building your drawings in 3D with cardboard.  Also, students should note that they do not have to be great at drawing to enroll into this course.  The only way to be able to do great drawings is to do hundreds of bad drawings.  Your models are going to be modest in the first instance if you have never done this before, and that is good! There is no other way to learn, but we understand that and that is important.  Not only do we understand that but people like Cynthia Dovell, Shane Laptiste, and Veronica Madonna (Academic Experts for ADST 200) work with the students in a very empathetic way.  Nobody is going to make you feel bad if your model looks crappy! Also, the projects are structured, though the coordinators encourage students in every instance to explore creative ideas.  Students will not be penalized if they do not follow the rules exactly.”

He continues, “Basically every project builds on the other ones.  You start off in ADST 200 really just manipulating basic shapes and exploring the ideas of hierarchy, rhythm, adjacency, and all the other kinds of ideas that are so important in design.  You start out in a two-dimensional plane and then as you move forward you are asked to work into the third dimension as well.  This project will continue on in ADST 205 where you will start to build other things.”

When asked about the structure of the group study, he states “Something important that I would like to mention is because we are still very small, usually each semester we run two design studio classes, but in those studios, you may have a mix of different people.  This semester we happened to have enough ADST 200 students to have their own group study together, though sometimes we have studios from a range of different ADST courses.  We mix and match them and that is really important, because you get to see what your peers are doing in upper level courses and to see the expectations and the quality of work.  I have noticed the quality of work from students go up once they see what the upper level students are doing and then they try to raise the bar for themselves.”

If you would like to see some of the work from past ADST 200 students, take a look at the RAIC Centre for Architecture Studio Gallery! This definitely will give you an idea of what would be expected of you if you enrolled!

Whether ADST 200 is a program requirement of yours or the structure of the course interests you, this course will have you immersed in a faster-paced, unique, hands-on, and interactive experience that will definitely make this course stand out compared to other courses offered at Athabasca University.