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/Critical Practice Studio

Summer 2020: Courtyard Pavilion Two

Brian Ringley

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Brian Ringley


Patricia Gruits from MASS Design Group


2007 Critical Practitioner: WilliamsonChong


Summer 2019: Courtyard Pavilion One

About Critical Practice

The Critical Practice Studio is a charrette-style studio that balances between generative creative work, workshop instruction, and intensive feedback sessions. The course stresses critical thinking, research application, and alternative practice models. Tasks and assignments are focused on understanding design responses in regards to depth of information retrieval, evidence of intimate understanding and rigorous application of research, and the exploration for alternatives.

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In addition to the design instruction, the studio is focused on developing each individual student’s ability to work in a complex professional team. Students research, generate, and represent design ideas in a collaborative team format and work process, reflective of contemporary studio practice in the design professions. In contrast to individual work, collaboration via team-based work is pursued in Critical Practice as a cooperative learning environment. This is reflective of the practice of architecture — a team-driven profession wherein the ability to learn how to work in a team environment is considered an essential tool for anyone in the profession.

CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) technologies are also transforming traditional professional boundaries and forcing architects to reconsider their roles in the construction industry. Traditionally, architects design, and then the design is translated for others to build. In a post-Fordist, 4th Industrial Revolution paradigm, these translations can be carried out by people, machines, or robots. File-to-factory stands to undermine the need for construction documents (the largest labor category in the design process). Given these tools, Critical Practice asks students to consider the role of architectural speculation when the gap between conception and physical translation becomes instantaneous — given a file-to-factory potential. Critical Practice explores what the architecture profession stands to win and lose given this operational framework.

The studio culminates in an inhabitable, exterior structure in the CoAD courtyard, which is built by participating students in one week. These ambitious circumstances of scale, logistics, and labor pressurize the studio interests and keep the focus. The studio explores design and construction while not suffering the fate of design-build studios that conclude with pointing to a thing and saying simply, “There it is.” Instead, the requirement of the built work of the studio is to be discursive, projective, and exist as a proof of concept, suggestive of other opportunities that are broader than the specific, applicable circumstances of the CritPrax Pavilion.

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June 8, 2020
Rolando Mendoza


2016 Critical Practitioner: Bittertang


2018 Critical Practitioner: Austin + Mergold


2017 Critical Practitioner: Angie Co


2013 Critical Practitioner: Interboro Partners 


2014 Critical Practitioner: Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss/NAO

Colorful Graphic

2011Critical Practitioner: Lateral Office

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