The guidelines below offer the thesis candidate departmental expectations about the nature and scope of Master of Architecture Design theses. The graduate committee acknowledges that students may pursue a design thesis grounded in personal inquiry with emphases in areas such as theory, landscape, urbanism, digital media, technology, artistic production, history, etc. Regardless of subject, there is an implicit assumption that most theses will be tested in an architectural building project with full technical documentation, and procedures and standards set below are intended to help guide such projects. These guidelines may be subject to change as a result of shifts within the broader context of architecture and the profession.
If a thesis project will not follow the norm of a standard building project, the thesis candidate must develop parallel guidelines at least as rigorous as those set forth below. The student’s thesis committee and the graduate committee before the midterm of the ARC 701 studio must approve any alternative guidelines.
1. Semester Critique Sessions
In order to support the development of the design thesis, the time period from 4:00 to 5:00 PM every other Wednesday, will be dedicated to contact between the thesis committees and their respective students. No other activities should be scheduled during this time that would interfere with these meetings.
2. Thesis Student Progress Assessment
The thesis candidate will be assessed formally in writing twice during the thesis design period as follows:
a. ARC 701
The ARC 701 instructor in consultation with the thesis committee will assess the progress of each thesis student in terms of the guidelines after the December schematic design review. The faculty group will make one the following recommendations:
i. Proceed to ARC 702: Site Analysis, Conceptual and pre-schematic design, and pre-programming complete and guidelines to date have been met.
ii. Proceed to ARC 702 Subject to Modification: Advancement to ARC 702 subject to modification and completion of all items noted as deficient by the ARC 701 instructor and thesis committee. All revisions to the thesis must be completed and reviewed by the ARC 701 instructor and the thesis committee prior to the first day of classes in the spring semester.
iii. Do not proceed to ARC 702: Thesis program, site analysis and development, and architectural schematic design do not meet accepted standards as outlined in the guidelines.
b. ARC 702
The ARC 702 instructor, in consultation with the thesis committee where necessary, will assess the progress of each thesis student at the mid term of the spring semester in terms of the thesis guidelines. The faculty group will make one the following recommendations:
i. Proceed to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion: Evidence of a well-developed design process in place. Schematic level design complete and project exhibits mature design development, inclusive of tectonic detail. Design Process, Drawings and Model guidelines to date have been met. A plan for final presentation is in place. Student is ready to commence final drawings and presentation.
ii. Proceed to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion Subject to Modification: Advancement to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion subject to modification and completion of all items noted as deficient by the ARC 702 instructor and thesis committee. All revisions and additions to the thesis design must be completed, reviewed and approved by the ARC 702 instructor and the thesis committee by the end of the first day of classes after the spring mid semester break for the student to continue.
iii. Do not proceed to ARC 702 Design Thesis Completion: Thesis design program, site analysis and design, architectural design process record, schematic design and design development do not meet accepted standards as outlined in the thesis design guidelines.
3. Thesis Committee Chair and Reader Assessment
All Thesis Committee Chairs and Readers will have formal, written course evaluations conducted by the Department using the standard CCA form and any other form of the faculty member’s choosing upon the completion of the written and design thesis during the spring term under the course number ARC 700.
III. Architectural Design Thesis Guidelines
All Architectural Design thesis projects must respond creatively and imaginatively to the thesis questions, challenges, and problems presented in the written thesis. Thesis candidates executing a building project to fulfill the Architectural Design requirement must develop their projects to function and be expressive at multiple scales, ranging from a large site context to smaller articulate details. The presentation of the Design Thesis must account for a sufficiently rich conception of the building at all such scales. The final design presentation should document fully the design investigation, incorporating at least three major areas: site documentation and analysis, and design process and development. The following standards are to serve as guidelines, but are negotiable by the candidate in conjunction with the studio instructor and committee, and as appropriate to the specific project, with the approval of the graduate committee.
A substantial deviation from these standards presumes the development of parallel standards of equal rigor, pre-approved by the thesis committee and the graduate committee.
1. Site Documentation and Analysis:
a. Site Documentation at the appropriate scale should include most or all of the following:
Figure Ground Drawing. Topographic Drawing. Land Use Plan. Area Plan of Environs. Site Plan of Design Intervention Area. Aerial Photographs. Documentary Photographs. Historic Documentation/Photos. Video and Audio Documentation. Site Demography to consider: Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Education, Income.
b. Tangible Site Analysis may include most or all of the following:
Circulation: Pedestrian, Vehicular, Other. Entry/Access: Pedestrian, Vehicular, Other. Climate: Wind, Solar, Precipitation, Temperature, Vegetation. View. Massing. Major and Minor Spaces. Materiality and Detail. Existing Building Analysis (if applicable). Architectural Precedent + Typology.
c. Intangible Site Analysis may include most or all of the following: Light + Shadow. Tactility. Color. Olfactory. Sound. Mood/Attitude.
2. Design Process (Organized, Dated and Selectively Edited):
Sketch and Drawing Record. Journals, Models/Constructions. Digital Mediation + Animation. Artistic Interpretive Activity: Photography, Painting, Sculpture, Video/Audio, Performance Lithography, Weaving, Metals, Assemblage, Collage.
3. Architectural Building Design Presentation Requirements at Descending Appropriate Scales:
Area Plan (1”= 80’), Site Plan (1”= 40’), Site Sections (1’= 40’), Building Floor and Roof Plans (1’= . ”), Building Elevations Major and Minor (1’ = . ”), Building Sections Major and Minor (1’= . ”), Interior Perspectives/Sequences/Animations, Exterior Perspectives /Sequences /Animations, Aerial Perspective/Animations, Site Model (1”= 40’), Building Model (1”= . ”), Axonometric/ Massing Study, Wall Sections (1’ = . ”), Details of Key Elements and Material Connections (Half or Full Scale), Diagrams Explaining Design Issues: Site, Spatial Relationships, Structure, Systems, Envelope, Program Disposition in appropriate scales. Explicatory Text of not more than 250 Words. Written Program expressed in gross and net square feet keyed to plan drawings with numerical legend.