It just occurred to me that I hadn't yet done a round-up of the four courses I am taking this semester in the USC School of Architecture, so I thought I might do that now...instead of actually doing work for them! Ah, what a great idea.
Urban Landscape Case Studies: I'm pursuing a certificate in "Urbanism and the Built Environment", which is a fancy way of saying that I need to take 4 or 5 architecture classes. This is fine by me since talking about architecture is one of my most favorite and nerdilicious things to do. This class is especially interesting because it talks about actual urban and landscape design projects around the world and tries to put them in a theoretical context. So far most of my assignments have included readings about landscape design strategies and infrastructure which allow me to explore my inner urban designer. The only downside is this class is huge for a graduate-level course - something like 35 people - so it's sometimes difficult to have a meaningful conversation without being a little intimidated. I won't be talking about this class too much longer as it's only a half-semester course and the second half of the semester I will be in something called "Architecture in the Urban Landscape: Comparative Theories".
History of American Architecture and Urbanism: The title of this course is pretty self-explanatory - it explores American architecture from the days of the Indians to just around the time when Modernism showed up. So far the class has been a good review of architectural history classes I've had in the past, and is engaging without being too demanding. An example of what we're studying can (coincidentally) be found in this video segment, produced by one of the editors of Archinect.com on his architectural odyssey across the American West.
Advanced Topics in Environmental Controls: This could turn out to be the most useful class I'll ever take. Basically we are learning how to use a variety of computer simulation programs to design more energy efficient homes. We've already explored a couple of programs, one user-friendly (HEED) and one not terribly (Energy-10), and we'll use several more by the time the course is over. Inherent in this learning process is the discussion that we have every week about green design strategies and when best to apply them. It's good stuff, and I'm thinking that most designers could benefit from taking a class like this.
Architectural Photography: While the other three classes I'm in are required for my degree, this one is just plain fun. I've been taking pictures of buildings for literally half of my life but I've always wanted to know how to do it properly, and that's the point of this class. It's only two credit hours, but it's probably more work than that....I'm not complaining because it means that I am getting world class instruction for less money (I'm not even going to tell you how much one credit hour costs at USC - suffice it to say it's extraordinary). We have already begun our midterm project, which consists of a slide show of pictures that we take of one building that we select. I picked the Caltrans building by Morphosis, partially because it's just up the street from me, and partially because it's a good looking building, but mainly because it's my favorite building in LA. You might have figured that out by looking at my Flickr page....I've already taken quite a few pictures of it on my digital camera (below). We'll see how I do on old-fashioned film!
I suppose I should get back to homework now....meh.