101st ACSA National Meeting
San Francisco, CA
At its most basic level, structural design is about creating strategies for elegantly and efficiently combining a range of materials and shapes to graceful resist the different stresses created by “spanning and stacking” elements. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on the potential richness of design that can emerge from this complex array of qualitative and quantitative choices, many structural design courses rely on the traditional engineering-‐based teaching methods that favor abstract representations of physical behavior, calculation-‐based analysis, and assessments of student performance based on the accuracy of those calculations. In these courses, because learning assessment is based on a student’s understanding of quantitative information, it follows that the course content itself must be filled primarily with mathematical analysis and sizing exercises. Instead of teaching a diversity of problem-‐solving methods aimed at developing the ability to assess and improve a structure’s design and performance, right and wrong answers become the ultimate measure of understanding and “failures” are to be avoided.
Whitehead, Rob, "Breaking (A)way: The Role of Productive Failures in a New Structural Design Pedagogy" (2013). Architecture Conference Proceedings and Presentations. 14.