Urban Dwelling in a Nutshell

A Crash Course to Multiple Issues of Living in the City


  • Craig S. Griffen Thomas Jefferson University


Our architecture program follows the common Bauhaus method in our first year to provide students with the fundamental principles of architectural design.  During the first semester, several design majors are combined together in the studios so projects are therefore kept generic and applicable to all.  In the second semester, they spend the first half on an in-depth analysis of a famous work of architecture and then spend the second half designing a companion building incorporating concepts of the original design.  Therefore, when the students start their second year they are getting their first architecture design studio with typical program/site driven projects. This where we “throw them into the deep end” with 3 increasingly complex design projects based on urban dwelling. The vast majority of our students come from suburban settings so have little experience with issues living in the city, much less the design process, so there is a steep learning curve to overcome.  To help bring them up to speed quickly, the first project in their design studio is geared to introduce multiple issues of residential design in the city within a short 3-week project.  While none of these topics is intended to be studied in depth, they acquaint the students with issues that will reappear many times in the semester and future years.