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On Education

From The AIA Center for Integrated Practice

Throughout 2011 CIP features resources from a range of topics that address how architects and members of the AEC industry tackle the issues and opportunities facing practice today. "On Education" was the featured subject in August 2011.

On Education: Introductory Article and Podcast

Integration and Education
By Ryan E. Smith, Director Integrated Technology in Architecture Center (ITAC)
University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Shift Happens.  Necessarily, the 21st century architect is being introduced to a paradigm shift in the way buildings are designed, built and maintained that differs from early Renaissance master builders and the more recent 20th century singular architect hero (i.e. Howard Roark) Emergent digital technologies, such as BIM, and delivery techniques, such as IPD, are suggesting a much more integrated collaborative delivery that builds upon the individual expertise of key players in a building project.  By integrating the process of building design, delivery and management, the AEC industry has the opportunity to redefine the relationships between conception and production with the architect as a key collaborator or facilitator of a building process that oscillates between stakeholders. [i]

The industry is rapidly advancing and it is clear that if architects do not integrate stakeholders well in the process of building, the industry will continue on without them.  Hence the development and existence of the AIA Center for Integrated Practice, a nexus of the TAP, PD, and PM Knowledge Communities, whose mission is to be advocates and advance the role of the architect in integrated practice.  Beyond the need to stay relevant in light of emerging technology, there is another reason why architects are critical to the integration paradigm.  As a discipline, architects are fundamentally concerned with the critical historical and theoretical ethics of aesthetics, quality, and environmental stewardship – making architects the primary cultural harbinger of the building industry.  Finding architectural solutions to the issues of today: social inequality, economic disaster, and environmental causality require an integrated process of collaboration.  Therefore, in the end, architecture as a discipline and architects as professionals should and can be leaders in the process of integrated practice.

Today marks one of the first times in the contemporary history of architecture that the profession, rather than education, has led the ideological manifest of architectural discourse.  The innovation of today is one of physicality, pragmatism, productivity and performance.  So what is the role of academia, historically heavy on theory and light on application, in the emergence of BIM, IPD and integrated practice? 

The fundamental values and operations of the profession and education are more often than not divergent.  For example, BIM is rapidly affecting the day-to-day operation of the profession in a revolutionary fashion.  IPD contracts have been developed to accommodate what this technology is suggesting – a flattening of process of delivery.  In education, BIM is having very little impact on what and how educators teach architecture.  In order for us to move the architectural profession toward becoming leaders in this new model of integrated practice, education needs to undergo a radical revolutionary change in how it teaches and researches toward and through integration.  This is less about software, rather concerned with the process of collaboration between project stakeholders, the industry in general, community partners, and linkages from education to the profession of architecture.[ii]

This revolution in education may be manifest by intertwining education, industry and practice in order to provide for collaborative learning, and feed innovation in the building sector.  In order to prepare students and service the profession in the new integrated paradigm educators and administrators in schools and colleges of design need to revamp the traditional studio model that focuses on one-on-one formal manipulation in favor of a holistic systemic revolutionary change that:

  • Rewards students and schools for interdisciplinary collaboration within the university between engineering, construction management and business; and the less suspecting departments of material science, biology, medicine, law, etc.


  • Integrates areas of the curriculum within architecture schools proper so that studio courses are indistinguishable from support courses of history, theory, technology and of course professional practice.


  • Integrates the profession, community partners and the construction industry in a holistic learning experience that includes research and outreach opportunities.[iii]


It is therefore beneficial that students learn integration as a concept early in their education in tandem with these social and environmental ethics and begin to apply the principles of integration as they mature through an architectural professional education, fostering a tactical ability in integrated thinking and doing.  This month’s AIA Center for Integrated Practice focuses on how integrated practice, BIM and IPD are affecting education in architecture schools and conversely how educational teaching, research and outreach may impact the future of the profession.  The resources posted herein point to articles, presentations, discussions, surveys, and interviews that represent the most current thinking, teaching and research on integrated practice and architectural education.

[i] Architecture in the Digital Age – Design and Manufacturing.  Branko Kolarevic (Ed.)
Spon Press 2003.

[ii] Cheng, Renee.  “Questioning the Role of BIM in Architectural Education”,  AEC Bytes Viewpoint #26, July 6, 2006.

[iii] Smith, Ryan.  “Integrated Process and Products”, Assembling Architecture - Building Technology Educators’ Society Proceedings, 2009.  p.67


The Voice of CIP

Listen to the From CIP: On Education Podcast on the AIA Pod Net and hear Ryan Smith from the University of Utah and Markku Allison discuss IPD from an educators perspecitve.

Center for Integrated Practice Resources

IPD Case Studies
This study from AIA, AIA  Minnesota, and University of Minnesota, School of Architecture, is the latest in a series of AIA reports on Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). 

University & Inudstry Research in Support of BIM 

Additional Resources on Education

2010-2011 BIM/IPD Survey Results - Summary

In November and December 2010 ACSA and Autodesk® partnered to survey administrators about the use of building information modeling (BIM) and integrated project delivery (IPD) content in architecture curricula. Administrators at more than 50 schools responded (37% of accredited or candidate programs), giving an initial picture of the inclusion of this emerging content in schools. Following is a summary of the results.

Socio-Technical Practices
Evaluating the socio-technical dialectic reveals much about our values as a society, as a construction industry and as individual disciplines. Ryan Smith's paper will share an interpretive cultural history of building in order to establish a context for the emergence of integrated practice technologies such as BIM, IPD and LEED. This will provide the foundation for determining whether these technologies are serving us well in contemporary practice given our most pressing challenges and opportunities. In short the purpose of this paper is to explain the context of building as a means for making our current practices more performative, that is less abstract and autonomous, and instead more connected, meaningful and valuable to the future of both society and the building industry.  Reproduced with permission of ACSA.