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Structures Congress 2015

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Structures Congress 2015

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Structures Congress 2015

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April 23–25, 2015


Portland, OR, United States


Architectural design relies upon structural design principles to help gracefully resist the stresses of building elements that enclose spaces. This discipline and expertise of integration typically takes years to develop but unfortunately, instead of teaching these skills side-by-side with coordinated expectations for escalating levels of expertise, representation, and analysis, these courses have frequently been separated from each other in architectural curricula. The oppositional pedagogical methodologies and differential expectations for development that occur as a result of this have adverse consequences for student learning and practical preparedness. This paper, intended for a national target audience of university faculty and practitioners, will outline a series of major curricular changes made to Iowa State University’s structural design course for architecture students which was explicitly reconfigured to address these concerns. Three specific lab assignments will be presented—one from the beginning, middle, and end of the new structural modules—to show how this new sequence has expanded and coordinated the range of curricular considerations within the structural coursework through the use of interactive, design-based learning activities and elevated expectations for course content. The paper will describe the critical aspects of the new curricular format and the corresponding innovations in learning activities in order to demonstrate how these three labs serve as benchmarks of demonstrated learning objectives in the sequence. Examples of student work will be shown, and an assessment of the efficacy of the assignments will be presented including reflections upon lessons learned and suggestions for future improvements.


This is the accepted manuscript of a proceeding from Structures Congress 2015, edited by Nathan Ingraffea and Mark Libby (ASCE, 2015), doi:10.1061/9780784479117.225. Posted with permission.

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