Teaching Design with People in Mind:
Social Factors at the College of Environmental Design, 1960s-1990
Exhibit Curators: Raymond Lifchez, Caitlin DeClercq, Ayda Melika
The Social Factors program, an innovative curriculum developed in the College of Environmental Design in the 1960s, introduced social science methods to teach the design of buildings and environments more responsive to human needs. Previous curricula and teaching focused on the aesthetic and technical aspects of architecture and landscape architecture.
This exhibit highlights the innovative approaches to design education that allowed students to translate socio-cultural values into physical forms. Social Factors faculty and students articulated a series of techniques to understand and define user needs, coordinate the contributions of practitioners from various allied disciplines to create integrated designs, and finally, evaluate the fit between people and the places they inhabit. Four aspects of the social factors curriculum will be explored:
Curators: Raymond Lifchez, Caitlin DeClercq, Ayda Melika
Exhibit Team: Chris Marino, Cailin Trimble, Jason Miller, Miguel Nieto
Sponsor: Environmental Design Archives
March 1, 2016 to May 27, 2016
On April 9, 2016, the School of Architecture participated in Montana State University's Expanding Your Horizon's program which introduces Middle School girls around Montana to career opportunities in STEM fields. Students from the American Insatiate of Architecture Students (AIAS) led four groups of ten girls in designing buildings from blocks.
The students involved included: Elizabeth Seidel, Sarah Burke, Wes Ditmeyer, Haley Teske, Ashley Cope, Michaela Leibel, Katie O’Neill, Joseph Bryan and Thomas Femrite.
Graduate students Elizabeth Seidel and Sarah Burke gave introductory explanations of architectural drawing conventions like the floor plan, and design tools like the grid, with assistance from Architecture Faculty Members, Susanne Cowan and Chere LeClair.
With anticipation, we watched to see how the girls became completely absorbed, using the block modules to realize their visions for all sorts of buildings like riding stadiums, swimming pools, skyscrapers, and houses. Many creatively tweaked the grid to develop unique angles and irregular forms.
Many of the girls had driven more than four hours to come to the one day event, showing their enthusiasm for science fields. Several girls plan to study stem fields like medicine, and a few were considering studying architecture. The theme "design your future" was meant to empower girls to imagine and pursue opportunities in technical fields like architecture.
The School of Architecture has about 40% female students, and about 30% female faculty.
Photos by Ashley Cope. Courtesy of Montana State University School of Architecture. The images feature MSU School of Architecture faculty and students including Susanne Cowan, Chere LeClair, Elizabeth Seidel, Sarah Burke, Wes Ditmeyer, Haley Teske, Michaela Leibel, Katie O’Neill, Joseph Bryan and Thomas Femrite.
Susanne is an architectural and urban historian interested in social activism in design.
Ayda Melika is an architectural historian and filmmaker interested in the spatial manifestations of collective activism.