July 26, 2016

ARCH/CM Studio

Contributed by Associate Professor Ann Marie Borys

ARCH/CM 404 is an integrated design studio that has been offered annually for over five years.  Professors Kate Simonen (Architecture) and Carrie Dossick (Construction Management) designed this studio to link with seminars on topics relevant to the studio project, which changes year to year.  I joined in this year to take the lead on the studio component while they teach structures, cost estimating, sustainability, and construction logistics, and we also have additional support from CBE Ph.D. candidate Chris Monson.  The studio process is based on teamwork among 4 design students, and an average of 2 student “consultants” from each of the four seminars, for an average total of 12.  I have completely enjoyed the unique studio structure, from working collaboratively with colleagues, to helping large teams establish goals and procedures, to working with between 1 and 4 students at a time on the usual process of desk crits.

This year, our three teams were given a design challenge based on an existing new building: a mixed-use mid-rise commercial building that was designed to meet performance guidelines in the City of Seattle’s Deep Green Pilot Program.  The building is known as Stone34 from its Wallingford location on the corner of Stone Way and 34th.  It was designed by LMNArchitects and built by Skanska, and they provided us with construction documents and cost and scheduling information.  After analysis of the LMN concrete frame design and performance, the students were essentially asked to do a feasibility study for the same program and scope with a mass timber structure.

A major theme of the studio, aside from the particulars of the design problem, is collaborative design and the continuous integration of analytical research on materials, systems, cost, performance, and constructability.  Here are some of the students’ views on what this studio has been like for them:

This studio experience has been unique because:

  • “it has given me the chance to think like an architect, cost consultant, sustainability consultant, structural engineer, and logistics manager.” (RC)
  • “if you don’t get something done that you were supposed to, it doesn’t just affect you, it affects 12 other people.” (SS)

The thing I like most about the integrated studio is:

  • “getting feedback and opinions from other disciplines, allowing me to reflect on buildability and sustainability aspects of design as well.” (TSB)
  • “working with a team and other disciplines provides more opportunities to learn from peers and develop a stronger project that is more realistic than the level of a typical design studio project.” (JL)

The thing that surprised me most about the studio is:

  • “the ability to communicate with people that don’t fully perceive design concepts like the architect does.” (BY)
  • “how differently everyone works—not just designing, but presenting and explaining ideas as well.” (KK)

Teamwork in the integrated studio is different from other group projects because:

  • “collaboration is much different than cooperation. Instead of partitioning the work, we found that true collaboration required face-to-face time to get it done.” (CA)
  • “it’s a true collaboration, instead of egos competing with one another.”(MW)

Sharing information gathered in analysis phase


Connecting issues across disciplines



Task planning