From Endings Come Beginnings: Facilitating the Transition from Ending Student to Beginning Practitioner
Fox, Andrew A.
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The receipt of a degree is momentous; it is at once the end of an academic career and the beginning of practice life. Terminal coursework thus becomes a critical component in successfully preparing students for the classroom-to-office transition. Essential to student preparedness is the ability to critically analyze, synthesize and apply myriad skills and knowledge. Critical thinking and problem solving require an understanding of the intimate relationship between various aspects of theory, research, applied design, and construction methods, materials, and documentation technologies. Equally as important is the development of student confidence and ownership. The lessons offered within a final studio should therefore integrate these elements into a comprehensive process promoting independent exploration, discovery, and application. This approach allows students to make their own connections between design skills and, in turn, transform abstract knowledge into applied understanding. Armed with a holistic comprehension of core fundamentals, emerging practitioners can effectively, efficiently and creatively address the innumerable challenges of professional practice. This paper discusses the application of these ideals into a graduate level, terminal design studio. The exploration of meaning is used to organize the studio around a variety of in-depth urban design projects. Student work is augmented with a reading and discussion seminar that highlights the need for reading, writing and verbal skills in the design process, as well as promotes the continued use of theory and research within professional practice. In total, student design explorations represent successful theory-to-practice applications related to urban landscapes at scales ranging from 1"=40'-0" to 1/8"=1'-0".